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SAN LUIS February 6, 2007 (Under Property Regimes of Unions Without Marriage) Two consolidated cases: Edgar San Luis v. Felicidad San Luis, Rodolfo San Luis v. Felicidad San Luis Background: The case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo San Luis. During his lifetime Felicisimo contracted three marriages. From the first marriage contracted in 1942 he had six children, two of whom are the petitioners in this case. His first wife died in 1963 and his second marriage to an American citizen ended in the wife getting a divorce in 1971. In 1974 Felicismo married Felicidad, the respondent in this case, in the USA. They had no children but lived together for 18 years until Felicismo died in 1992. After Felicisimos death, Felicidad sought the dissolution of their conjugal partnership assets and filed a petition for letters of administration. The children of Felicisimo from his first marriage opposed this on the grounds that Felicidad is only a mistress, the second marriage to the American wife subsisting. The petitioners claimed that Article 26, Paragraph 2 of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to validate the bigamous marriage because it would impair the vested rights of Felicisimos legitimate children (Article 256 of the Family Code). Issue/Held/Ratio: Does the respondent Felicidad have legal capacity to file the petition for letters of administration? YES. Even if the Court does not apply Article 26, Par. 2 of the Family Code, there is sufficient jurisprudential basis in the case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. [oo nalang kung di niyo maalala ito, guys] where it was held that a Filipino spouse should no longer be considered married if the alien spouse validly obtains a divorce outside of the Philippines. [Remember that in Van Dorn the Court applied the nationality principle in Article 15 of the Civil Code] Indeed, in cases like Quita v. Dandan and Republic v. Orbecido III [again, kung di niyo maalala, oo nalang, haha] it was pointed out that Par. 2, Article 26 of the Family Code traces its origins to the ruling in Van Dorn. However, since Felicidad failed to present the necessary evidence to prove the divorce decree (recall Garcia v. Recio: copy of the law, final decree of absolute divorce) as well as her marriage solemnized in California, the case is remanded to the trial court for further reception of evidence. Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry Felicidad, Felicidad still has legal personality to file the petition for letters of administration, as she may be considered the co-owner of the properties that were acquired through their joint efforts during their cohabitation. Sec. 2, Rule 79 provides (in part) that a petition for letters of administration must be filed by an interested person. Felicidad qualifies as an interested person with direct interest in the estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their 18-year cohabitation. If she proves the validity of the divorce but fails to prove her marriage, she may be considered a co-owner under Article 144 of the Civil Code. If she fails to prove the validity of both the divorce and the marriage, Article 148 of the Family Code would apply. Article 148 states that couples who are incapacitated to marry but still live together as husband and wife have co-ownership over properties acquired during their cohabitation in proportion to their respective contributions. *Note: There is another issue raised here, but I dont think Maam will care about it. Felicidad filed the petition for letters of administration in Makati. Petitioners claimed it should have been filed in Laguna, where the deceased was governor, interpreting residence as domicile. The SC did not uphold this, interpreting resides in Sec. 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court to mean actual or physical habitation of a person, not legal residence or domicile.