G.R. No. 82606. December 18, 1992.*



Private respondent, Jose Jo is legally married to the petitioner, who admits to having cohabited with three women and fathered fifteen children. The two agreed that Prima would temporarily leave their conjugal home in Dumaguete City to stay with her parents during the initial period of her pregnancy and for Jose to visit and support her. They never agreed to separate permanently. Prima went back to Dumaguete, but she was not accepted by her husband.

In 1980, the petitioner filed a complaint against Jo for judicial separation of conjugal property and action for support which were consolidated and tried jointly. However the disposition for support was rendered and none of the complaint for judicial separation of properties. The petitioner elevated the decision to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the ruling for support but dismissed the complaint of judicial separation of conjugal property for lack of a cause of action and on the ground that separation by agreement was not covered by Article 178 of the Civil Code.


-WoN the appellate court still rule on the dispositive portion of the trial court’s decision?

-WoN the CA erred in denying the complaint of Prima Partosa-Jo on the ground that the separation of the parties was due to their agreement and not because of abandonment.


– YES. It has been ruled that where there is an ambiguity caused by an omission or mistake in the dispositive portion of the decision, the Court may clarify such an ambiguity by an amendment even after the judgment has become final. The petitioner’s counsel, noting this, should have taken immediate steps for the rectification of the omission so that the ruling expressed in the text of the decision could have been embodied in the decretal portion. Such alertness could have avoided this litigation on a purely technical issue.

– YES. CA misinterpreted the agreement between her and the private respondent. The physical separation of the parties, coupled with the refusal by the private respondent to give support to the petitioner, sufficed to constitute abandonment as a ground for the judicial separation of their conjugal property under ART 135.

The amendments introduced in the Family Code are applicable to the case before us although they became effective only on August 3, 1988. As we held in Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals.

The greater weight of authority is inclined to the view that an appellate court, in reviewing a judgment on appeal, will dispose of a question according to the law prevailing at the time of such disposition, and not according to the law prevailing at the time of rendition of the appealed judgment.