Susan Nicdao Cariño, vs. Susan Yee Cariño

G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001.*



SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, contracted two marriages, the first was on June 20, 1969, with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cariño , with whom he had two offspring and the second was on November 10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee Cariño, with whom he had no children in their almost ten year cohabitation starting way back in 1982.

In 1992,Santiago died under the care of Susan Yee, who spent for his medical and burial expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies. The first wife, petitioner was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 while respondent Susan Yee received a total of P21,000.00. Respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum of money against petitioner be ordered to return to her at least one-half of the “death benefits” which she received.

Susan 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 petitioner and the deceased. She also contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is void ab initio because the same was solemnized without the required marriage license.


(1) Whether or not the first marriage contracted by the deceased without marriage license is valid

(2)Whether or not the second wife, Susan Yee can collect money from the death benefits received by Susan Nicdao


(1) NO. Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, and the absence thereof, subject to certain exceptions, renders the marriage void ab initio.

(2) NO. Under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must first 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. The second marriage of the deceased with respondent Susan Yee was solemnized without first obtaining a judicial decree hence, the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.

Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, and the subsequent marriage is adulterous cohabitation

Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous marriages, adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships where both man and woman are married to other persons, multiple alliances of the same married man- In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint contribution shall belong to the co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to him or her exclusively. Then too, contributions in the form of care of the home, children and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are excluded in this regime.

Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage, having been solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid (between petitioner and the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in order. Unless respondent Susan Yee presents proof to the contrary, it could not be said that she contributed money, property or industry in the acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent and the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right whatsoever to claim the same. By intestate succession, the said “death benefits” of the deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of the deceased is not one of them.

As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family Code governs. This article applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence of a marriage license.

Conformably, even if the disputed “death benefits” were earned by the deceased alone as a government employee, Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling the petitioner to share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of the subject “death benefits” under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her share in the property regime, and the other half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his children with Susan Nicdao.

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