Posted by: Elmer Brabante | September 16, 2009

Cariño vs. Cariño

Susan Nicdao Cariño vs. Susan Yee Cariño

GR No. 132529

February 2, 2001



                SPO4 Santiago CAriño married petitioner Susan Nicdao on June 20, 1969, with whom he had two children, Sahlee and Sandee.  On November 10, 1982, SPO4 Cariño also married respondent Susan Yee.  In 1988, SPO4 Cariño became bedridden due to diabetes and tuberculosis, and died on November 23, 1992, under the care of Susan Yee who spent for his medical and burial expenses.  Both Susans filed claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance from various government agencies pertaining to the deceased.  Nicdao was able to collect P146,000 from MBAI, PCCVI, commutation, NAPOLCOM and Pag-ibig, while Yee received a total of P21,000 from GSIS burial and SSS burial insurance. 

                On December 14, 1993, Yee filed for collection of money against NIcdao, praying that Nicdao be ordered to return to her at least one-half of the P146,000 NIcdao had collected.  For failing to file her answer, NIcdao was declared in default. 

                Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during the subsistence of and without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage between Nicdao and Cariño.  But she claimed good faith, having no knowledge of the previous marriage until at the funeral where she met Nicdao who introduced herself as the wife of the deceased.  Yee submitted that Cariño’s marriage to Nicdao was void because it was solemnized without the required marriage license. 

ISSUES: (1)  Whether or not the subsequent marriage is null and void;

                (2)  Whether or not, if yes to above, the wife of the deceased is entitled to collect the death benefits from government agencies despite the nullity of their marriage. 


                Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such marriage void.  Meaning, where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void.  However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even after the death of the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage, so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. 

                Under the Civil Code which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner and the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, and the absence therof, subject to certain exceptions, renders the marriage void ab initio

                It does not follow, however, that since the marriage of Nicdao and the deceased was void ab initio, the death benefits would now be awarded to Yee.  To reiterate, under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must be a prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage; otherwise, the second marriage would also be void. 

                One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the property of the spouses according to the applicable property regime.  Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, the applicable property regime would be not absolute community nor conjugal partnership of property, but governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code, on Property Regime of Unions Without Marriage.


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