Erlinda Kalaw and Potenciano Ilusorio married in 1949. They stopped living together in 1972. However in 1997, Potenciano lived with Erlinda for five months in Antipolo. Thereafter, Potenciano chose to live in Makati. In March 1999, Erlinda filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for writ of habeas corpus against her children. Erlinda alleged that her children are preventing Potenciano from going home to Antipolo and that she is being prevented from seeing her husband.
The Court of Appeals denied her petition but granted her visitation rights for humanitarian considerations. The CA further ordered that anyone denying Erlinda’s visitation rights may be subject to contempt of court.
ISSUE: Whether or not the decision of the Court of Appeals is correct.
HELD: It is partly correct. The denial of the petition for writ of habeas corpus is correct. Evidence does not show that Potenciano is being restrained by his children. He simply does not want to love with Erlinda. No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to the man and woman’s free choice.
The grant of visitation rights to Erlinda is not proper. This case did not involve the right of a parent to visit a minor child but the right of a wife to visit a husband. In case the husband refuses to see his wife for private reasons, he is at liberty to do so without threat of any penalty attached to the exercise of his right.