Civil Law

Gerbert Corpuz vs Daisylyn Sto. Tomas

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G.R. No. 186571 – 642 Phil. 420 – 628 SCRA 266 – Civil Law – Persons and Family Relations – Family Code – Marriage; Void Marriages – Article 26; Effect of Foreign Divorce

Remedial Law – Evidence – Presumptive Evidence – Foreign Judgment; Divorce

Civil Procedure – Rule 39 – Rights of Alien Spouse Divorcee

In November 2000, Gerbert Corpuz became a naturalized Canadian citizen. In January 2005, he married Daisylyn Sto. Tomas, a Filipina. In April 2005, Gerbert discovered that Daisylyn was having extramarital affairs. In December 2005, Gerbert filed a petition for divorce in Canada. In January 2006, a Canadian court issued a divorce decree in favor of Gerbert.

In 2008, Gerbert intended to marry another Filipina here in the Philippines. Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyn’s marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982.

Thus, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved with the RTC. The RTC later denied Gerbert’s petition. The RTC ruled that under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy of having a foreign divorce decree be judicially recognized. Since Gerbert is not a Filipino spouse, he cannot avail of such remedy.

ISSUE: Whether or not only a Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy provided for in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.

HELD: Yes. Article 26 of the Family Code provides:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry. The RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.

But is Gerbert left with no remedy?

No. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the alien’s national law have been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments:

SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. – The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:


(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.

The divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national law.

So what should Gerbert do in order to have the the foreign divorce be recognized?

File a petition under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court (Cancellation Or Correction Of Entries In The Civil Registry). And in that petition, he can raise an issue for the recognition of the foreign divorce decree.

At this juncture, the SC ruled that the registration of the divorce decree by the Pasig Civil Registry is wrong. The Civil Register cannot do that without a court order. Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that “no entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected, without judicial order.”

Likewise, in the event that a proper petition for judicial recognition of a foreign divorce decree is filed, say for example if in this case, the person who filed the petition was Daisylyn, and the same was granted – such judicial recognition alone is not sufficient to cause the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. The SC ruled that a separate petition under Rule 108 must still be had.

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