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Gonzalez v.

G.R. No. L-37048 7 March 1933 J. Hull Espaola
plaintiff Manuela Barretto Gonzalez
defendant Augusto C. Gonzalez
summary Augusto and Manuela married in the PH. They later separated, and he secured a divorce
decree in Reno, Nevada, USA. Afterwards, he married another Filipina, and returned to the
PH. Manuela sought to enforce the alimony of the Nevada divorce decree by having a PH
court recognize the divorce. The Court denied her prayer, since divorce is against public
policy. Foreign judgments cannot affect the status of citizens in a way that is contrary to
public policy.

facts of the case

Plaintiff Manuela and defendant Augusto, both Philippine citizens and residents of Manila, were married
in the City of Manila in January 1919. They lived together was man and wife until 1926, at which time they
separated and did not live together again. Their union bore them four children.
Negotiations between the parties led to an arrangement whereby Augusto would pay P500/month for
Manuela and their childrens support, to be increased in case of illness or necessity. Shortly after this
agreement, however, Augusto left the Philippines for Reno, Nevada in the United States. In that jurisdiction,
he secured an absolute divorce on the ground of desertion. The decree was issued 28 November 1927, and
the on same date, Augusto married another Filipina in Nevada, with whom he now has three children. They
then moved to California, and back to the Philippines in 1928.
In his absence, Augusto reduced the support he was sending his first family and did not pay the alimony
directed by the Nevada divorce decree. So, shortly after his return to the Philippines, Manuela brought this
action against him, with their children intervening. They pray that the divorce decree issued by the State of
Nevada be confirmed and ratified in this jurisdiction, and that Augusto be ordered to pay the alimony of
The Court of First Instance granted judgment in favor of Manuela and the Gonzalez children. Augusto thus

Whether the divorce decreed by the State of Nevada may be recognized in this jurisdiction. NO, since it is
against public policy.

The conduct of the parties in this case indicates a purpose to circumvent the Philippine laws regarding
divorce, and to secure a change of status not authorized by Philippine law. The matrimonial domicile of this
couple was the Philippines. Though Augusto acquired residence in the State of Nevada for the purpose of
securing a divorce, this was not a bona fide residence, and thus the Court of the State of Nevada had no
jurisdiction to dissolve the bonds of matrimony between Augusto and Manuela.
Art. 9 of the Spanish Civil Code provides: The laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status,
condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon Spaniards even though they reside in a foreign
country. Further, Art. 11 reads: The prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts, and their property, and
those intended to promote public order and good morals, shall not be rendered without effect by any foreign
laws or judgments or by anything done or any agreements entered into a foreign country.
Litigants cannot, by mutual agreement, compel courts to approve of their own actions or permit citizens
personal relations to be affected by decrees of foreign courts, in a manner that Philippine law believes is
contrary to public order and good morals.

The CFIs judgment is thus reversed. Augusto is absolved from the demands made against him in this
action, without prejudice to any right of maintenance that Manuela and their children may have against him.