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De la Cruz v De la Cruz | No.

L-19565 January 30, 1968 | See pertinent provisions: Article 55 (10)


Castro, J. | by Orate, AJ

Recit Summary:
Years after the marriage between plaintiff and defendant, the
latter started to live separately from his wife without cessation
of him fulfilling his marital duties as a husband and father by
providing financial support to his family. Petitioner files a
complaint against her husband on grounds of abandonment
and mismanagement of conjugal properties.

Facts:
- February 1, 1938: marriage between petitioner and
defendant, 6 children, various fixed assets and businesses
- 1955: defendant started living in Manila, staying in his office
and barely went back to their conjugal home in Bacolod
City; plaintiff’s allegation of defendant keeping a mistress
- July 22, 1958: Complaint of petitioner Estrella de la Cruz
agains defendant Severino de la Cruz on ground of
abandonment and mismanagement of conjugal properties.
- Reliefs sought: (1) Separation of properties (2)Monthly
support of P2500 during pendency of action and (3)
Payment of P20, 000 for attorney’s fees
- June 1, 1961: RTC granted petition, defendant files appeal
in CA
- Defendant asserts no intention to abandon his family,
but only to teach his quarrelsome and extremely jealous
wife a lesson; never failed to provide for his family
financially (schooling, monthly allowance, etc.)
- Despite living apart, plaintiff admitted to still fulfilling
her marital duties as a wife, admitted that defendant’s
choice to live in Manila was due to their expanding
business

Issue:
WON the separation of the defendant constitute
abandonment as defined in the Civil Code
-“abandonment” is defined as the act of the husband
or wife who leaves his or her consort
wilfully, and with an intention of causing perpetual separation.
-there must be an absolute cessation of marital
relations, rights and duties

Ruling:
The Court ruled that the defendant is not guilty of
abandonment of his wife and children. For abandonment to
be a ground for legal separation under Article 178 CC (now
Article 55 FC), it should amount to more than just physical
separation but also financial and moral desertion. In the
present case, defendant continued to support and provide for
his wife and children despite physical separation and the Court
sees no discernible intent of permanent abandonment.