Remedial Law

Milagros Joaquino vs. Lourdes Reyes et al.

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G.R. No. 154645 – 434 SCRA 260 – 478 Phil. 343 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Settlement of Estate – Jurisdiction of Probate Court; Declaration of heirship can only be made in a special proceedings and not in an ordinary civil action

Rodolfo Reyes and Lourdes Reyes married each other in 1947 and were blessed with four children, namely, Mercedes, Manuel, Miriam, and Rodolfo, Jr.

Sometime in the 1960s, Rodolfo left his family and he lived with Milagros Joaquino.

During his cohabitation with Milagros, Rodolfo begot children with her and was able to acquire a house and lot in ParaƱaque.

In 1981, Rodolfo died. In 1982, Lourdes and her children filed an action for recovery of properties against Milagros for the purpose of recovering the house and lot in ParaƱaque. It was the contention of Lourdes that the property is conjugal because it was acquired solely from the efforts and salaries of Rodolfo; that Milagros was not gainfully employed so she could not have contributed in the acquisition of the property.

The trial court ruled in favor of Lourdes. However, it also made a declaration that the children of Rodolfo and Milagros are not heirs of Rodolfo and that they have no successional rights.


  1. Whether or not the house and lot acquired by Rodolfo and his concubine belong to the conjugal property of Rodolfo and his legal wife, Lourdes.
  2. Whether or not it was proper for the trial court to rule on the heirship and successional rights of the children of Rodolfo with Milagros.


1. The Civil Code is applicable (Family Code not yet in effect).

Article 144 provides that for a cohabiting couple, their property relations is governed by co-ownership. However, if there is a legal impediment to their marriage, such as in this case, Article 148 shall apply. Art. 148 provides that when a common-law couple have a legal impediment to marriage, only the property acquired by them — through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry — shall be owned by them in common and in proportion to their respective contributions.

In this case, Milagros had no proof that she contributed at all. She was not gainfully employed and the evidence show that the payments made towards the property was from Rodolfo’s salary which is conjugal.

2. No. Matters relating to the rights of filiation and heirship must be ventilated in the proper probate court in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of determining such rights. (This pronouncement was reversed in the case of Treyes vs. Larlar)

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