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ROEHR

v RODRIGUEZ
FACTS:

1. Wolfgang Roehr, a German citizen and resident of Germany married Carmen
Rodriguez a Filipina, in Hamburg, Germany.
2. Their marriage was ratified in Negros Occidental.
3. Subsequently, Rodriguez filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage
between the RTC. A motion to dismiss was filed by Roehr but was denied.
4. Upon appeal, the petition for certiorari filed by the petitioner was denied by
the CA and remanded the case to the RTC.
5. Meanwhile, Roehr obtained a decree of divorce on Germany and the marriage
between the parties was dissolved. The parental custody of the children was
granted to Roehr
6. In view of said decree, Roehr filed a Second Motion to Dismiss on the ground
that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action or
suit as a divorce decree had already been promulgated dissolving the
marriage between him and Rodriguez.
7. RTC granted the motion to dismiss.
8. Rodriguez filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, with a prayer than the
case proceed for the purpose of determining the issues of custody of children
and the distribution of the properties between the petitioner and private
respondent.
9. Roehr opposed this on the ground that nothing more is to be done for the
marital tie had already been severed by the divorce decree obtained in
Germany and that said decree has already been recognized by the RTC
through the implementation of Article 26, endowing petitioner to remarry
under the PH law.
10. The respondent judge partly set aside the order to tackle the issues of
property and support and custody of the children.
11. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: W/N the RTC has jurisdiction to retain the present case

HELD:
1. A divorce obtained by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction
provided such decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner.
However, the legal effects thereof, must still be determined by out courts.
2. Before the courts can give the effect of res judicata to a foreign judgment,
such as the award of custody, it must be shown that the parties opposed to
the judgment had been given ample opportunity to do so on grounds allowed
by Section 48, Rule 39.
Judgment may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want
of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
3. It is essential that there should be an opportunity to challenge the foreign
judgment in order for the court in this jurisdiction to properly determine its
efficacy.
4. In actions in personam, the foreign judgment merely constitutes a prima
facie evidence of the justness of the claim of a party and as such, subject to
proof to the contrary.
5. In the case at bar, private respondent was not given the opportunity to
challenge the judgment of the Germant court that there will be the basis
declaring that judgment as res judicata with regards to the right of the
petitioner to the parental custody of their two children.
The proceeding in the German courts were summary.
There was no comment on the divorce decree by Rodriguez.
No counsel to Rodriguez.
More importantly, the divorce judgment was issued to petitioner by
virtue of the German Civil Code provision to the effect that when a
couple lived separately for three years, the marriage is deemed
irrefutably dissolved. The decree did not touch on the issue as to who
the offending spouse was. Absent any finding that private respondent
is unfit to obtain custody of the children, the trial court was correct in
setting the issue for hearing to determine the issue of parental
custody, care, support and education mindful of the best interests of
the children.


*On the issue of partially modifying her issued order:
It is clear from the foregoing rules that a judge can order a partial
reconsideration of a case that has not yet attained finality.
Considering that private respondent filed a motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period, the order can still
be modified.
Moreover, in Saado v. Court of Appeals, we held that the court
could modify or alter a judgment even after the same has become
executory whenever circumstances transpire rendering its
decision unjust and inequitable, as where certain facts and
circumstances justifying or requiring such modification or
alteration transpired after the judgment has become final and
executory and when it becomes imperative in the higher interest
of justice or when supervening events warrant it.