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MARRIAGE-PRESUMPTIVE DEATH

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v GREGORIO NOLASCO
G.R. No. 94053; March 17, 1993;
FELICIANO, J.:

DOCTRINE:
A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void,
unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive
years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of
disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provision of Article 391 of
the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.

FACTS:
On 5 August 1988, respondent Gregorio Nolasco filed before the RTC Antique a petition for the
declaration of presumptive death of his wife Janet Monica Parker, invoking Article 41 of the Family Code.

Respondent Nolasco testified that he was a seaman and that he had first met Janet Monica Parker, a
British subject, in a bar in England during one of his ship's port calls. Parker proceeded to live with Nolasco on
his ship for 6 months until they returned to respondent's hometown of San Jose, Antique on 19 November 1980
after his seaman's contract expired. On 15 January 1982, respondent married Parker

After the marriage, he obtained another employment contract and left his wife with his parents in
Antique. Sometime in January 1983, respondent received a letter from his mother informing him that Parker had
given birth and that she had left Antique. He claimed that he then immediately asked permission to leave his
ship to return home and arrived in Antique in November 1983.

Respondent further testified that his efforts to look for her himself were to no avail.

The trial court granted Nolasco's petition. CA affirmed.

ISSUE:

Whether Nolasco has a well-founded belief that his wife is already dead?

HELD:

No. Nolasco failed to prove that he had complied with the third requirement under the Article 41 of the
Family Code, the existence of a "well-founded belief" that Janet is already dead.
Under Article 41, the time required for the presumption to arise has been shortened to 4 years; however,
there is a need for judicial declaration of presumptive death to enable the spouse present to marry.
However, Article 41 imposes a stricter standard before declaring presumptive death of one spouse. It requires a
"well-founded belief" that the absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death
can be granted.
In the case at bar, the Court found Nolasco's alleged attempt to ascertain about Janet's whereabouts too
sketchy to form the basis of a reasonable or well-founded belief that she was already dead.
Nolasco, after returning from his employment, instead of seeking help of local authorities or of the
British Embassy, secured another contract to London. Janet's alleged refusal to give any information about her
was too convenient an excuse to justify his failure to locate her. He did not explain why he took him 9 months
to finally reached San Jose after he asked leave from his captain. He refused to identify his friends whom he
inquired from. When the Court asked Nolasco about the returned letters, he said he had lost them. Moreover,
while he was in London, he did not even dare to solicit help of authorities to find his wife.

. The circumstances of Janet's departure and Nolasco's subsequent behavior make it very difficult to regard the claimed belief that Janet was dead a well-founded one.