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Q&As in CIVIL LAW 1. QUESTION: M was married to J in 1946.

J disappeared in 1947 and had not been heard of or seen since then. In 1958, M, without securing a declaration of presumptive death of J, married T. In 1992 T died leaving substantial properties. A, the sole surviving sister of T, filed a petition in court praying that the whole estate of his brother be adjudicated to her as the marriage between M and T was bigamous, hence null and void. Will the action prosper? ANSWER: No, the action willnot prosper. The marriage is valid. The provision in the Family Code on the necessity of a judicial declaration of presumptive death cannot be applied retroactively when in so doing vested rights are impaired. The marriage between the deceased Teodorico and Marietta was solemnized in 1958. The law in force at that time was the Civil Code, not the Family Code (the Family Code took effect only on August 3, 1988). Under the Civil Code, a judicial declaration of absence of the absentee spouse was not necessary as long as the prescribed period of seven years absence was met and the spouse contracting the later marriage acted in good faith. Marietta's first husband, James, had been absent or had disappeared for more than eleven years before she entered into a second marriage in 1958 with the deceased Teodorico. This second marriage, having been contracted during the regime of the Civil Code, should thus be deemed valid, notwithstanding the absence of a judicial declaration of presumptive death of James. 2. QUESTION: T is married to M. After a few years of marriage the two separated. T then married G who, at the time of their marriage, did not know that T was still married to M. The couple lived in Fairview, Quezon City. M at this time lived in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. About a year after the marriage between T and G, T gave birth to a baby boy, and they named him TG. The relationship between T and G two turned sour, and about one year from the birth of TG, G filed a complaint against T for the annulment of their marriage on the ground of bigamy. The trial court annulled the marriage for


“Under the law, … . In this case, … .” A Reviewer in Civil Law being bigamous, declared TG an illegitimate child of the couple, awarded T the custody of the child and granted G visitation rights. T appealed from the decision, contending that there was nothing in the law granting visitation rights in favor of the putative father of an illegitimate child. Is G entitled to visitation rights?

ANSWER: No, G is not entitled to any rights. He is not the father of TG. M is. TG is the legitimate son of M. Under the law, a child who is conceived or born during the marriage of his parents is legitimate. (Art. 164, Family Code) The presumption of legitimacy proceeds from the sexual union in marriage, particularly during the period of conception. To overthrow this presumption, it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that there was no access that could have enabled the husband to father the child. In this case, Ma. Theresa and Mario resided just a few kilometers away, and the separation between themwas certainly not such as to make it physically impossible for them to engage in the marital act. (QUESTION: If T was able to prove during the trial that there absolutely was no sexual contact between her and M since they separated, is TG an illegtimate of G? ANSWER: No, TG continues to be a legitimate son of M. Under the law, only the husband, and, in special cases, his heirs may impugn the legitimacy of the child. [Art. 170, Family Code] In this case,M is not a party to the case) 3. QUESTION: M High SchooL conducted an enrollment drive for the ensuing school year. The enrollment campaign consisted of visitation of schools in which prospective enrollees were studying. In one of the campaigns, S, a student of the school, rode in a jeep owned by V and driven by C, his grandson. At one point, C allowed J, a 15 year old student of the same school, to drive the jeep. While J was driving the jeep, the steering wheel guide was detached and the vehicle turned turtle. S died as a result of the incident. The parents sued the school for damages. Is the school liable?

Law, Persons and Family Relations


ANSWER: No, the school is not liable. While it is true that under the law, the school, its administrator and the teacher concerned are principally and solidarily liable for damages caused by the acts or omissions of the unemancipated minor while under their supervision, instruction, or custody (Article 219, Family Code), for these persons to be liable, the act or omission considered as negligent must be the proximate cause of the injury, i.e., that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred. In this case, M School’s negligence was not the the proximate cause of the death of S. M did not own the vehicle, It was not M that allowed J to drive the vehicle. The negligence of M was only a remote cause of the accident. Between the remote cause and the injury, there intervened the negligence of J’s parents or the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep.

4. QUESTION: X and Y were both overseas workers. X represented to Y that he was single, eventually the two became lovers and out of their love was born Z. When X and Y came home for a vacation, Y came to know that X was married. Feeling aggrieved Y prevented X from seeing their child. X sued Y to compel her to allow him to visit their child. Y countered that a father has no visitation rights over his illegitimate child? Is Y correct? ANSWER: No, Y is wrong. The father of an illegimate child is entitled to visitation rights over the child. While there is no specific law on the matter, provisions that constitute the legal bases for visitorial rights on the part of the father of an illegitimate child are scattered in the Constituion and our laws. For instance, the Constitution speaks of the natural and primary rights in rearing the youth. The Family Code also speaks of the natural right and duty of parents and those exercising parental authority to, among other things, keep children in their company and to give them love and affection, advice and counsel.


“Under the law, … . In this case, … .” A Reviewer in Civil Law

These laws do not limit the enjoyment of these rights only to persons bound by legitimate relationships. Finally, and most importantly, the Family Code provides that in case of a declaration of nullity of a void or non-inexistent marriage, a situation akin to a union without marriage or under a bigamous marriage, the parents are given visitorial rights to the children who would not be under their custody. 5. QUESTION: A, a 20-year old unmarried and jobless son of B and C, still lived with his parents. One night, A, who was drunk at a party, without being provoked, stabbed and killed D. Are B and C liable for damages for the death of D? ANSWER: Yes, B and C are liable for damages. While it is true that under the original provisions of the Family Code, parents are not civilly liable for the tortious acts of their emancipated children, these provisions are modified by the law amending the Family Code by lowering the age of majority from 21 to 18, The Family Code, as amended, provides that the duty or responsibility of parents and guardians for children and wards below twenty-one years of age in Article 2180 of the Civl Code is not derogated. Under the Article 2180, the parents or guardians are liable for totious acts of their children with ages 21 and below. This means that under the Family Code, parents or guardians continue to be liable for the tortuous acts of their children with ages above 18 and below 21. (Note: This is one rare instance that you have to say (or write) in your answer the article no. --- Art, 2180 of the Civil Code). 6. QUESTION: X Cruz and Y Reyes had been living together as husband and wife, and and had deported themselves as such in the community where they lived for 20 years. Their only child Z was baptized and entered school bearing the surname Reyes-Cruz. When Z was still young, the three of them went to church, to the beach, to the malls together. In school and other social functions, Y was introduced as “Mrs. Y Cruz”. X started to live with Y three years after the death of A with whom he had been married for ten years, and with whom he had 2 children, C and D. Y died, followed by X a few months later. After the death of X, C and D executed an extra-judicial partition of three lots acquired by A and X during

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their marriage. Z filed an action against C and D for the declaration of nullity of the extra-judicial partition and for the partition of the lots among the three of them, alleging that she was a legitimate child of X. C and D countered that Z was an illegitimate child and his action has already prescribed. Decide the case. ANSWER: I will order the partition of the estate of X between C, D and Z. Z is a legitimate child of X with Y. Under the law, a man and a woman, deporting themselves as husband and wife, are presumed, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. The reason is that such is the common order of society. It is not common for two persons to be living in constant violation of decency and of the law, which is the case if they are not what they hold themselves to be. Once a man and a woman have lived as husband and wife and such relationship is not denied nor contradicted, the presumption of their being married must be admitted as a fact. In this case, X and Z had lived together as husband and wife for twenty long years, raising their only child as a legimitate child. 7. QUESTION: Adelberto, ten years old, shot Jennifer with an air rifle causing injuries which resulted to her death. Prior to the shooting incident, the spouses Sabas and Felisa had filed a petition to adopt Adelberto. The petition for adoption was granted after Adelberto had shot and killed Jennifer. Macario, Jennifer's adopting parent, and the spouses Celso and Aurelia, Jennifer's natural parents, filed a complaint for damages against the spouses Victor and Clara, Adelberto's natural parents with whom he was living at the time of the tragic incident. In their answer, Victor and Clara alleged that the spouses Sabas and Felisa, not they, were liable for the death of Jennifer. Siding with Victor and Clara, the trial court dismissed the complaint. Is the trial court correct? ANSWER: No, the trial court is wrong.


“Under the law, … . In this case, … .” A Reviewer in Civil Law

While it is true that under the law, a decree of adoption retroacts to the time the petition for adoption is filed, this law is subject to another law making the parents of a minor chlid liable for his tortious act only if the child is living with them and under their custody. The purpose of the law on retroactivity is to permit the accrual of some benefit or advantage in favor of the adopted child. It was never intended to impose a liability upon the adopting parents accruing at a time when the adopting parents had no actual or physical custody over the adopted child. In this case, the spouses had no physical custody yet over Adelberto when the shooting incident occurred. (Tamargo vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 85044, June 3, 1992) 8. QUESTION: X sold his car to Y for P500,000.00. At the time of sale X owed Y P566,000. Y did not pay the P500,000.00. X sued for the rescission of the sale and the delivery of the car to him. Y interposed the defense of compensation. X countered that there could be no compensation because while his obligation to Y is to pay the sum of P566,000.00, Y’s obligation to him is to deliver the car. Is Y liable to pay the purchase of the car? ANSWER: No, Y is not liable to pay the purchase price. Under the law, when all its requisites are present, compensation takes effect by operation of law, and extinguishes both debts to the concurrent amount, even though the creditors and debtors are not aware of the compensation. In this case, upon the sale of the car, all the requisites for compensation concurred. X and Y were principal debtor and creditor to each other, over a fixed sums of money that were due, and neither one of the debts was involved in a controversy commenced by third persons. For this reason, compensation took effect by operation of law even without the consent or knowledge of X and Y. And when used as a defense, compensation retroacts to the date when all its requisites are fulfilled. The claim of X that there could be no legal compensation in this case as one of the obligations consists of delivery of a car and not

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a sum of money is without merit. Upon the sale of the car, compensation had taken place by operation of law, rendering the suit for rescission without any factual or legal basis.66 9. A was indebted to B under Promissory Note Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. All debts were now due. A paid B 10 million and told B to apply the amount to PN Nos. 1 and 2. B instead applied it to PN Nos. 3, 4, and 5. Days after he gave the amount to B, A received a statement of account showing that the P10 million was applied to PN Nos. 3, 4, and 5. B did not protest against the application of payment made by B. When B tried to collect PN Nos. 1 and 2, A claimed that his obligations under those PNs were already extinguished. B sued A for the collection of PN Nos. 1 and 2. Will the action prosper? ANSWER: No, the action will not prosper. The obligation sued aupon has already been paid. It is true that under the law, if the debtor accepts from the creditor a receipt in which an application of the payment is made, the former cannot complain of the same (unless there is a cause for invalidating the contract), In this case, however,what was shown by the creditor to the debtor was not a receipt but a statement of account. A statement of account is not the receipt contemplated under the law. The receipt is the evidence of payment executed at the time of payment, and not the statement of account executed several days thereafter. A cannot be said to be estopped by his silence. There was no clear assent by him to the change in the manner of application of payment. A’s silence as regards the application of payment by B cannot mean that he consented thereto. There was no meeting of the minds. Though an offer may be made, the acceptance of such offer must be unconditional and unbounded in order that concurrence can give rise to a perfected contract. 10. QUESTION: N and M, both Filipino citizens were married in the Philippines. They had a child, A. Ten years later, N, the husband, left M and A in the Philippines, got himself a job in the United States, got naturalized as an American citizen, and married an American. Meanwhile N had a live-in relationship with O. When M and O learned of N’s marriage, they decided

Trinidad vs. Acapulco, G.R. No. 147477, June 27, 2006


“Under the law, … . In this case, … .” A Reviewer in Civil Law to marry each ther which they did months later. They had a son, B. When M died, A protested the equal sharing of M’s estate between them because B, according to him, was an illegitimate son of his mother as N and were both Filipinos when they were married. Is A correct?

ANSWER: A is not correct. While it is true that the Family Code provides that, for a Filipinio spouse to be entitled to marry again if his alien spouse has obtained a divorce capacitating him or her to marry again the status of the marriage being a mixed one (one spouse a Filipno and the other a foreigner), there is no reason why this benefit cannot be granted to a Filipino spouse in a both-Filipino marriage where the other Filipino spouse later becomes a naturalized foreign citizen and gets a divorce capacitating him to marry again. To literally apply the law, would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.