The Legal Effects of Abandonment in the Philippines
Life is not always a fairy tale where happily-ever-after endings abound. Sometimes, we pick the wrong person to marry. To make matters worse, our so-called “forever” would pack his or her bags and leave. To be abandoned by a spouse is indeed a torment which you would not even wish on your enemy. How does one move on from abandonment?
Abandonment without justifiable cause for more than one (1) year is one of the grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Philippine Family Code. Yes, the phrase legal separation has been underscored and illustrated in bold font to prevent any confusion that it can be a ground for dissolution of marriage. It must be emphasized that legal separation only allows the spouses to live separately and partition their properties. It DOES NOT dissolve the marital bonds. So, absurd as it may sound, you cannot have your marriage annulled or declared void even if your spouse abandons you. As held by the Supreme Court in Republic of the Philippines vs. Encelan (G.R. No. 170022, 09 January 2013), “sexual infidelity and abandonment of the conjugal dwelling, even if true, do not necessarily constitute psychological incapacity; these are simply grounds for legal separation. To constitute psychological incapacity, it must be shown that the unfaithfulness and abandonment are manifestations of a disordered personality that completely prevented the erring spouse from discharging the essential marital obligations.” We repeat, abandonment is only a ground for legal separation and NOT annulment or declaration of nullity of the marriage. Don’t ask us why because we are also perplexed by how the law treats abandonment.
We repeat, abandonment is only a ground for legal separation and NOT annulment or declaration of nullity of the marriage.
Another remedy that the abandoned spouse can pursue is to file a petition for judicial separation of property under Article 135 of the Family Code where the spouses have been separated in fact for at least one (1) year and reconciliation is highly improbable. Lest it be forgotten, abandoned or not, property acquired during the marriage is generally presumed conjugal. Therefore, it is highly unfair if the spouse who abandoned you will partake of a share in the fruits of your hard work during his/her time of absence. Therefore, it is prudent to file a petition for judicial separation of property so that the conjugal properties may be divided and future assets will be governed by the regime of separation of property. In short, kanya-kanya na.
Other remedies also include filing a petition for receivership or for authority to be the sole administrator of the conjugal partnership property as spelled out in Article 128 of the Family Code. Furthermore, when the consent of one spouse to a transaction is necessary (such as selling properties), the abandoned spouse may apply for judicial authorization in a summary proceeding. If the conjugal or community property is insufficient to support the family, the separate properties of both spouses shall be liable. Pursuant to Article 100 of the Family Code, the spouse present shall, upon proper petition in a summary proceeding, be given judicial authority to administer or encumber any specific separate property of the other spouse and use the fruits or proceeds thereof to satisfy the latter’s share.
Remember, spouses are obliged to support each other. However, the spouse who leaves the conjugal home, without just cause, shall NOT have the right to be supported.
Moving on after being abandoned by your spouse is certainly difficult. You may not be able to get him/her back, but at least your properties are safe.
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected].