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Nature: Action to annul sale of properties and recovery thereof Ponente: Gutierrez Date: 11 May 1984
DOCTRINE: A common law wife owns property in common with her husband because of her contribution
to the marriage, which need not come in monetary form.
Relevant Provision of Law: Art. 144 of the Civil Code
Melbourne Maxey and Regina Morales started living together in 1903 but were only married in a “military
fashion.” However, they had a church wedding in 1919. The properties in dispute were acquired in 1911
and 1912. In 1919, Regina died. Melbourne remarried and in 1953, his second wife Julia (using a power of
attorney) sold the properties to private respondents spouses Macayra. Julia is of the belief that said
properties were exclusive to Melbourne. Petitioners are children of Melbourne and Regina. They seek the
annulment of the above sale and recovery of possession. They allege that such properties were conjugal
properties of their parents ’ marriage as they were bought with their joint effort and capital. The trial court
ruled for the petitioners, while the CA found otherwise.
(1) W/N Melbourne and Regina were married in 1903 in military fashion RULING: Act No. 3613
recognizing military marriages was only enacted in 1929. The military wedding did not make a valid
marriage. They were only legally married in 1919.
(2) W/N the properties in question were conjugal or exclusive to Melbourne
RULING: They were conjugal property.
The CA disputed the application of Art. 144 of the Civil Code because it could not be applied retroactively
in prejudice of vested rights. But even if Art. 144 did apply, the CA is of the view that the property could
not have been acquired by the spouses’ joint efforts because this pertains to monetary contributions and
Regina was a mere housewife.
SC rules otherwise. It applies Art. 144 retroactively because no vested rights of Melbourne were impaired
because there exists a concurrent right of Regina or her heirs to a share of the properties in question.
The disputed properties were owned in common by Melbourne and the estate of his late wife Regina when
they were sold. Art. 144 recognizes that it would be unjust to require a woman who is a wife in all aspects
of the relationship except for the requirement of a valid marriage to abandon her home and children, neglect
her traditional household duties, and go out to earn a living or engage in business before the rules on co-
ownership would apply. It does not matter that she made no monetary contribution, for the "real
contribution" to the acquisition of property must include not only the earnings of a woman but also her
contribution to the family's material and spiritual goods through caring for the children, administering the
household, husbanding scarce resources, freeing her husband from household tasks, and otherwise
performing the traditional duties of a housewife.
But given that the properties were owned in common by the spouses, Julia’s sale over Mel bourne’s share
is valid. P etitioners should return one-half of the purchase price of the land to private respondents while
the latter should pay some form of rentals for their use of one-half of the properties.
CASE: Carino vs Carino GR No 132529, 2 February 2001

Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be
invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring
such previous marriage void.

Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous
marriages, adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships
where both man and woman are married to other persons, multiple alliances of the
same married man, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint
contribution shall belong to the co-ownership.

Article 147 of the Family Code applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated
and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is
nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence of a marriage license


SPO4 Santiago S. Carino contracted two marriages in his lifetime. The first one was
one June 20, 1969 with herein petitioner Susan Nicdao Carino, with whom he had two
offsprings; and the second was on November 10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee
Carino, with whom he had no children in their almost ten years of cohabitation starting
in 1982. SPO4 Carino succumbed to diabetes complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis
on November 23, 1992 under the care of Yee, who spent for his medical and burial

Petitioner Susan Nicdao was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 from "MBAI,
PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig,", while respondent Susan Yee
received a total of P21,000.00 from "GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and burial (SSS).” On
December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum
of money against petitioner Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be ordered
to return to her at least one-half of the one hundred forty-six thousand pesos
(P146,000.00) death benefits. It is noted that the marriage of the deceased with Susan
Yee took place during the subsistence of the marriage between deceased and Susan
Nicdao, without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity. Respondent however
averred that the first marriage of her husband was void ab initio in the absence of a
marriage license. The RTC ruled in favor of respondent Susan Yee, awarding her half
of the claimed death benefits (P73,000.00). The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in


Whether or not herein respondent Susan Yee is entitled to half of the death benefits of
her husband SPO4 Carino, notwithstanding that their marriage took place with the
latter having already been married without a judicial declaration of nullity.


No. Respondent Susan Yee is not entitled to half of her husband’s death

The Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity of the two
marriages in this case, as the same is essential to the determination of who is rightfully
entitled to the subject "death benefits" of the deceased. The marriage between
petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, having been solemnized without the
necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages exempt from the
marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio. Under Article 40 of the
Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial declaration
of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a
second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be void. Hence, the
marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.

Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, the applicable property regime
would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership of property, but rather, be
governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code on "Property
Regime of Unions Without Marriage." Considering further that the marriage of
respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage, having been
solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid
(between petitioner and the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in
order. The disputed P146,000.00 death benefit of the deceased husband is clearly
earned exclusively by him. Hence, respondent has no right to said death benefits, not
being the legal wife. As for the property regime between deceased and petitioner
Susan Nicdao, Article 147 of the Family Code governs. This article applies to unions of
parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract
marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence
of a marriage license. Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling
the petitioner to share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the
present case, both parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus,
one-half of the subject "death benefits" under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her
share in the property regime, and the other half pertaining to the deceased shall pass
by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his children with Susan Nicdao.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of

Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263 which affirmed the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner to pay respondent the sum of
P73,000.00 plus attorney's fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is REVERSED and