CASE DIGEST: Salas v. Aguila

G.R. No. 202370 : September 23, 2013
JUAN SEVILLA SALAS, JR., Petitioner, v. EDEN VILLENA AGUILA, Respondent.
FACTS:
In 1985, Petitioner Juan Sevilla Salas, Jr. and respondent Eden Villena Aguila were married. In 1986, Salas left their conjugal dwelling. Since then, he no longer communicated with Aguila or their daughter.
In 2003, Aguila filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage citing psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. The petition states that they "have no conjugal properties whatsoever.".
In May 2007, the RTC rendered a decision declaring the nullity of the marriage of Salas and Aguila. The RTC Decision further provides for the "dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, if any."
In September 2007, Aguila filed a Manifestation and Motion stating that she discovered properties covering TCTs under the name of "Juan S. Salas, married to Rubina C. Salas, found to be the common-law wife of Salas. Thereafter, Salas filed a Manifestation with Entry of Appearance requesting for an Entry of Judgment of the RTC Decision since no motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed and no conjugal property was involved.
Salas filed an Opposition to the Manifestation alleging that there is no conjugal property to be partitioned based on Aguilas petition. According to Salas, Aguilas statement was a judicial admission and was not made through palpable mistake. Salas claimed that Aguila waived her right to the Discovered Properties. Salas likewise enumerated properties he allegedly waived in favor of Aguila, namely, parcels of land in Batangas, cash amounting toP200,000.00 and motor vehicles. Thus, Salas contended that the conjugal properties were deemed partitioned.
The RTC ruled in favor of Aguila confirming the partition of the properties.
The RTC held that pursuant to the Rules,even upon entry of judgment granting the annulment of marriage, the court can proceed with the liquidation, partition and distribution of the conjugal partnership of gains if it has not been judicially adjudicated upon, as in this case. The RTC found that the Discovered Properties are among the conjugal properties to be partitioned and distributed between Salas and Aguila. However, the RTC held that Salas failed to prove the existence of the Waived Properties.
Rubina filed a Complaint-in-Intervention, claiming that : (1) she is Rubina Cortez, a widow and unmarried to Salas; (2) the Discovered Properties are her paraphernal properties; (3) Salas did not contribute money to purchase the Discovered Properties as he had no permanent job in Japan; (4) the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over her as she was not a party in the case; and (5) she authorized her brother to purchase the Discovered Properties but because he was not well-versed with legal documentation, he registered the properties in the name of "Juan S. Salas, married to Rubina C. Salas."
The RTC further held that Salas and Rubina were at fault for failing to correct the TCTs, if they were not married as they claimed.
On appeal, the CA affirmed the order of the RTC. The CA denied the Motion for Reconsiderationfiled by Salas. Hence, this petition.
ISSUES:
Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts decision ordering the partition of the parcels of land.
Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts decision in not allowing Rubina C. Cortez to intervene in this case.
HELD: The decision of the Court of Appeals is sustained.
CIVIL LAW property regime
Since the original manifestation was an action for partition, this Court cannot order a division of the property, unless it first makes a determination as to the existence of a co-ownership.Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr., G.R. No. 165427, 21 March 2011
Salas alleged that contrary to Aguilas petition stating that they had no conjugal property, they actually acquired the Waived Properties during their marriage. However, the RTC found, and the CA affirmed, that Salas failed to prove the existence and acquisition of the Waived Properties during their marriage.
Such evidence, in the absence of proof to the contrary, has the presumption of regularity.
On the other hand, Aguila proved that the Discovered Properties were acquired by Salas during their marriage. Both the RTC and the CA agreed that the Discovered Properties registered in Salas name were acquired during his marriage with Aguila. The TCTs of the Discovered Properties were entered on 2 July 1999 and 29 September 2003, or during the validity of Salas and Aguilas marriage.
Considering that Rubina failed to prove her title or her legal interest in the Discovered Properties, she has no right to intervene in this case. The Rules of Court provide that only "a person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action." Rules of Court, Rule 19, Sec. 1.
In Di v. Di, G.R. No. 178044, 19 January 2011we held that Article 147 of the Family Code applies to the union of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless declared void under Article 36 of the Family Code, as in this case.
Under this property regime, property acquired during the marriage is prima facie presumed to have been obtained through the couples joint efforts and governed by the rules on co-ownership.Valdes v. RTC, Branch 102, Quezon City, 328 Phil. 1289 (1996)
In the present case, Salas did not rebut this presumption. In a similar case where the ground for nullity of marriage was also psychological incapacity, we held that the properties acquired during the union of the parties, as found by both the RTC and the CA, would be governed by co-ownership.Buenaventura v. Court of Appeals, 494 Phil. 264 (2005).
The Petition is denied.

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