Adoption of Lim (G.R. Nos. 168992-93; May 21, 2009)


FACTS: Monina and Primo Lim were married. Two children whose parents were unknown and whose whereabouts were unknown were brought to them. They reared and took care of the two kids. Primo died in 1998 but Monina got married to Angel Olario, an American citizen. When the children were brought to them, they registered them making it appear that they were the natural parents. Monina decided to adopt the two (2) children by availing of the amnesty under RA 8552 to those individuals who simulated the birth of a child, hence, she filed the petition on April 24, 2002. Michelle was 25 years old and already married at the time of the filing of the petition. Michael was 18 years old. The husband of Michelle gave his consent to the adoption.The DSWD issued a certification that they were abandoned children. After trial, the RTC dismissed the petition on the ground that the husband of Monina did not join her in the petition as required by Section 7(c), Article III, RA 8552 and Article 185 of the Family Code. She filed a Motion for reconsideration as she did not fall under any of the exceptions provided for by the law. (Sec. 7(c), Article III, RA 8552). It likewise ruled that the contention that mere consent of her husband would suffice was untenable because, under the law, there are additional requirements, such as residency and certification of his qualification, which the husband, who was not even made a party in this case, must comply.

As to the argument that the adoptees are already emancipated and joint adoption is merely for the joint exercise of parental authority, the trial court ruled that joint adoption is not only for the purpose of exercising parental authority because an emancipated child acquires certain rights from his parents and assumes certain obligations and responsibilities.

Hence, she filed a petition with the Supreme Court raising the sole issue of whether or not petitioner, who has remarried, can singly adopt.

She contended that the rule on joint adoption must be relaxed because it is the duty of the court and the State to protect the paramount interest and welfare of the child to be adopted. She argued that the legal maxim “dura lex sed lex” is not applicable to adoption cases. She argued that joint parental authority is not necessary in this case since, at the time the petitions were filed, Michelle was 25 years old and already married, while Michael was already 18 years of age. Parental authority is not anymore necessary since they have been emancipated having attained the age of majority.

ISSUE: Is the petition proper?

HELD: The answer is in the negative. The husband and wife should have jointly filed the petition for adoption. The principle of dura lex sed lex is applicable as the law is explicit that the husband and wife shall jointly adopt.

The use of the word “shall” means that joint adoption by the husband and the wife is mandatory. This is in consonance with the concept of joint parental authority over the child which is the ideal situation. As the child to be adopted is elevated to the level of a legitimate child, it is but natural to require the spouses to adopt jointly. The rule also insures harmony between the spouses. (Rep. v. Toledano, G.R. No. 94147, June 8, 1994, 233 SCRA 9).

The law is clear. There is no room for ambiguity. Petitioner, having remarried at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, must jointly adopt. Since the petitions for adoption were filed only by petitioner herself, without joining her husband, the trial court was correct in denying the petitions for adoption on this ground.

Neither does petitioner fall under any of the three exceptions enumerated in Section 7. First, the children to be adopted are not the legitimate children of petitioner or of her husband. Second, the children are not the illegitimate children of petitioner. And third, petitioner and her husband are not legally separated from each other.

The fact that her husband gave his consent to the adoption as shown in his Affidavit of Consent does not suffice. There are certain requirements that her husband must comply being an American citizen. He must meet the qualifications set forth in Section 7 of RA 8552 such as: (1) he must prove that his country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines; (2) he must have been living in the Philippines for at least three continuous years prior to the filing of the application for adoption; (3) he must maintain such residency until the adoption decree is entered; (4) he has legal capacity to adopt in his own country; and (5) the adoptee is allowed to enter the adopter’s country as the latter’s adopted child. None of these qualifications were shown and proved during the trial.

These requirements on residency and certification of the alien’s qualification to adopt cannot likewise be waived pursuant to Section 7. The children or adoptees are not relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of petitioner or of her husband. Neither are the adoptees the legitimate children of petitioner.