CASE DIGEST: Ventura vs. Spouses Abuda

G.R. No. 202932 October 23, 2013



In 1952, Socorro and Crispin were married where they had a son Edilberto Sr. who was married to Leonora. Edilberto Sr. and Leonora are the parents of herein petitioner Edilberto Jr. (Edilberto). In 1980, Socorro married Esteban even if she had a subsisting marriage with Crispin. Esteban on the other hand was also married before but the same was dissolved by virtue of the death of his previous wife. Esteban had a daughter named Evangeline.

Sometime in 1968, Esteban purchased a portion of lot in Tondo, Manila, while the remaining portion was purchased by Evangeline on her fathers behalf (Vitas Property). In 1978, Esteban and Evangeline also had small business establishments located in Delpan st. Tondo (Delpan Property). When Esteban was diagnosed with colon cancer, he decided to sell the properties to Evangeline.

Esteban passed away on September 1997, while Socorro on July 1999. When Leonora, petitioners mother discovered the sale sometime in 2000, they filed a petition for annulment of the sale, claiming that petitioner is entitled to a right or interest over the properties purchased by Esteban. . Respondents, on the other hand, argued that because of Socorros prior marriage to Crispin, her subsequent marriage to Esteban was null and void. Thus, neither Socorro nor her heirs can claim any right or interest over the properties purchased by Esteban and respondents.

RTC ruled in favor of respondents, ruling that Vitas and Delpan properties were not conjugal properties of Socorro and Esteban. CA affirmed the decision, applying Article 148 of the Family Code.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner is entitled to any right or interest over the subject properties

HELD: No. CA decision sustained

Civil Law -in unions between a man and a woman who are incapacitated to marry each other, the ownership over the properties acquired during the subsistence of that relationship shall be based on the actual contribution of the parties

It is necessary for each of the partners to prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property in order to be able to lay claim to any portion of it. Presumptions of co-ownership and equal contribution do not apply.

This is a reiteration of Article 148 of the Family Code, which the CA applied in the assailed decision:

Art 148. In cases of cohabitation wherein the parties are incapacitated to marry each other, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

Applying the foregoing provision, the Vitas and Delpan properties can be considered common property if: (1) these were acquired during the cohabitation of Esteban and Socorro; and (2) there is evidence that the properties were acquired through the parties actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry.

Edilberto argues that the certificate of title covering the Vitas property shows that the parcel of land is co-owned by Esteban and Socorro because: (1) the Transfer Certificate of Title was issued on 11 December 1980, or several months after the parties were married; and (2) title to the land was issued to "Esteban Abletes, of legal age, married to Socorro Torres."

The title itself shows that the Vitas property is owned by Esteban alone. The phrase "married to Socorro Torres" is merely descriptive of his civil status, and does not show that Socorro co-owned the property.The evidence on record also shows that Esteban acquired ownership over the Vitas property prior to his marriage to Socorro, even if the certificate of title was issued after the celebration of the marriage. Registration under the Torrens title system merely confirms, and does not vest title.

Edilberto claims that Esteban s actual contribution to the purchase of the Delpan property was not sufficiently proven since Evangeline shouldered some of the amortizations.Thus, the law presumes that Esteban and Socorro jointly contributed to the acquisition of the Delpan property.

Civil Law - Art. 1238. Payment made by a third person who does not intend to be reimbursed by the debtor is deemed to be a donation, which requires the debtor s consent. But the payment is in any case valid as to the creditor who has accepted it.

Thus, it is clear that Evangeline paid on behalf of her father, and the parties intended that the Delpan property would be owned by and registered under the name of Esteban.