G.R. No. 188289, August 20, 2014
DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner, v. LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PHILIPPINES PROPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE House and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. located at 1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, Manila (Sampaloc property) P1,693,125.00 Agricultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. m. located at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora P400,000.00 A parcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares located at Maria Aurora, Aurora P490,000.00 A parcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. located at Sabang Baler, Aurora P175,000.003 3-has. coconut plantation in San Joaquin Maria Aurora, Aurora P750,000.00 USA PROPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE House and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, Daly City, California $550,000.00 (unpaid debt of $285,000.00) Furniture and furnishings $3,000 Jewelries (ring and watch) $9,000 2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck $13,770.00 Bank of America Checking Account $8,000 Bank of America Cash Deposit $10,000.00 Life Insurance (Cash Value) $100,000.00 Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuities $56,228.004
- Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras committed acts of abandonment and marital infidelity which can result into the forfeiture of the parties’ properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2) children.
- Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the properties in California, U.S.A. and the same can be included in the judicial separation prayed for.
- Whether or not the “Joint Affidavit” x x x executed by petitioner Leticia T. Noveras and respondent David A. Noveras will amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the latter’s property rights over their conjugal properties.
- Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras is entitled to reimbursement of one-half of the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their property in Sampaloc, Manila and one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including interests and charges.
- How the absolute community properties should be distributed.
- Whether or not the attorney’s fees and litigation expenses of the parties were chargeable against their conjugal properties.
- The absolute community of property of the parties is hereby declared DISSOLVED;
- The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby ordered to be awarded to respondent David A. Noveras only, with the properties in the United States of America remaining in the sole ownership of petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana pursuant to the divorce decree issued by the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, United States of America, dissolving the marriage of the parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles presently covering said properties shall be cancelled and new titles be issued in the name of the party to whom said properties are awarded;
- One-half of the properties awarded to respondent David A. Noveras in the preceding paragraph are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, his two minor children with petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles covering the said properties. Their share in the income from these properties shall be remitted to them annually by the respondent within the first half of January of each year, starting January 2008;
- One-half of the properties in the United States of America awarded to petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in paragraph 2 are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with respondent David A. Noveras as their presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their share in the income from these properties, if any, shall be remitted to them annually by the petitioner within the first half of January of each year, starting January 2008;
- For the support of their two (2) minor children, Jerome and Jena, respondent David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00 as monthly allowance in addition to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall take care of their food, clothing, education and other needs while they are in her custody in the USA. The monthly allowance due from the respondent shall be increased in the future as the needs of the children require and his financial capacity can afford;
- Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the purchase price of the Sampaloc property, the Paringit Spouses are hereby ordered to pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two children. The share of the respondent may be paid to him directly but the share of the two children shall be deposited with a local bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint account to be taken out in their names, withdrawal from which shall only be made by them or by their representative duly authorized with a Special Power of Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made within the period of thirty (30) days after receipt of a copy of this Decision, with the passbook of the joint account to be submitted to the custody of the Clerk of Court of this Court within the same period. Said passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of Court only by the children or their attorney-in-fact; and
- The litigation expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by the parties shall be shouldered by them individually.11
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the assailed Decision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch 96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby divided equally between petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. Noveras;
x x x
4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph 2 shall pertain to her minor children, Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their share in the income therefrom, if any, shall be remitted to them by petitioner annually within the first half of January, starting 2008;
x x x
6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are each ordered to pay the amount of P520,000.00 to their two children, Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the Sampaloc property inclusive of the receivables therefrom, which shall be deposited to a local bank of Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latter’s names. The payment/deposit shall be made within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of a copy of this Decision and the corresponding passbook entrusted to the custody of the Clerk of Court a quo within the same period, withdrawable only by the children or their attorney-in-fact.
A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) the amount of P1,040,000.00 representing her share in the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
The last paragraph shall read as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon City; the Civil Registrar-General, National Statistics Office, Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Noveras and Jena Noveras.
The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12chanrobleslaw
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, “no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country.” This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the alien’s applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense.14
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction; (2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially declared an absentee; (3) That loss of parental authority of the spouse of petitioner has been decreed by the court; (4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned the latter or failed to comply with his or her obligations to the family as provided for in Article 101; (5) That the spouse granted the power of administration in the marriage settlements has abused that power; and (6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have been separated in fact for at least one year and reconciliation is highly improbable.
In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3), the presentation of the final judgment against the guilty or absent spouse shall be enough basis for the grant of the decree of judicial separation of property. (Emphasis supplied).
Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid cause and the spouse is deemed to have abandoned the other when he/she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The intention of not returning is prima facie presumed if the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed to give any information as to his or her whereabouts within the period of three months from such abandonment.
In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the respondent has returned to and stayed at his hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines, as she even went several times to visit him there after the alleged abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going back to the USA to visit her and their children until the relations between them worsened. The last visit of said respondent was in October 2004 when he and the petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition for dissolution of marriage with the California court. Such turn for the worse of their relationship and the filing of the said petition can also be considered as valid causes for the respondent to stay in the Philippines.19chanrobleslaw
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the marriage under Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis supplied).
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the exclusive properties of each spouse. (2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 94. (3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them. (4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall be divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements, or unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such share provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2), the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution. (5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with Article 51. (6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall be adjudicated to the spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children.
Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the Sampaloc property. While both claimed to have contributed to the redemption of the Noveras property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the same is presumed to have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the redemption money.
David’s allegation that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the benefit of the absolute community cannot be given full credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged thereto. Election expenses in the amount of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal councilor cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or at least the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 duly received by the Commission on Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred to settle the criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible as the same had not benefited the family. In sum, Leticia and David shall share equally in the proceeds of the sale net of the amount of P120,000.00 or in the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00.
x x x x
Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil Code, “(t)he legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half of the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother.” The children are therefore entitled to half of the share of each spouse in the net assets of the absolute community, which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the same, as well as to their respective shares in the net proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps. Paringit in the amount of P410,000.00. Consequently, David and Leticia should each pay them the amount of P520,000.00 as their presumptive legitimes therefrom.21
* Per Raffle dated 28 July 2014.
** Per Special Order No. 1757 dated 20 August 2014.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) with Associate Justices Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos and Rosmari D. Carandang, concurring. Rollo, pp. 26-37.
2 Presided by Judge Corazon D. Soluren. Records, pp. 262-288.
3 Id. at 2.
4 Id. at 27-28.
5 Id. at 16.
6 Id. at 77.
7 Id. at 79-81.
8 Id. at 4-5.
9 Id. at 23-26.
10 Id. at 267.
11 Id. at 287-288.
12Rollo, pp. 36-37.
13 G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010, 628 SCRA 266.
14 Id. at 281-282.
15Fujiki v. Marinay, G.R. No. 196049, 26 June 2013.
16 591 Phil. 452, 470 (2008).
17 Processual presumption means that where a foreign law is not pleaded or, even if pleaded, is not proved, the presumption is that foreign law is the same as ours. See EDI-Staffbuilders Int’l. Inc. v. NLRC, 563 Phil. 1, 22 (2007).
18 Sta. Maria, Persons and Family Relations Law, Fourth Edition, 2004, p. 396.
19 Records, p. 280.
20 TSN, 9 March 2006, p. 13.
21Rollo, pp. 34-35.