Posted by: Elmer Brabante | September 1, 2009

Selanova vs. Mendoza


Adm. Matter 804-CJ

May 19, 1975 


                On November 21, 1972, respondent judge Alejandro Mendoza prepared and ratified a document extrajudicially liquidating the conjugal partnership of complainant Saturnino Selanova and his wife, Avelina Ceniza.  The contract, signed by the spouses and two witnesses before the culpable judge, divided the two pieces of conjugal assets of the spouses between them, and licensed either spouse to commit any act of infidelity; and withdraw the complaint fro adultery or concubinage which each had filed against the other. 


                Whether or not an extrajudicial agreement between spouses to dissolve their marriage is valid. 


                The agreement in question is void because it contravenes the provision under Art. 221 of the Civil Code, which state that the following shall be void and of no effect: (1) any contract for personal separation between husband and wife; (2) every extrajudicial agreement, during marriage, for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains or of the absolute community of property between husband and wife. 

                Even before the approval of the Civil Code, the Supreme Court held that the extrajudicial dissolution of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval was void.  An agreement between husband and wife which permits the husband to take a concubine and for the wife to live in adulterous relationship with another man, is void.  While adultery and concubinage are private crimes, they still remain crimes, and a contract legalizing their commission is contrary to law, morals and public orders, and as a consequence not judicially recognizable.               

                The judge having become a lawyer in 1948, who was in good faith and with honest intent to terminate the marital conflict, since he was not aware of Art. 221 of the Civil Code, was merely reprimanded.

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