G.R. No. 168785, February 5, 2010
Petitioner Herald Dacasin (petitioner), American, and Sharon Del Mundo Dacasin (respondent), Filipino, were married and have one daughter, Stephanie. In 1995, Sharon obtained from the Illinois Court a divorce decree against the petitioner. The Illinois court dissolved the marriage and awarded Sharon sole custody of Stephanie and retained jurisdiction over the case for enforcement purposes.
In 2002, petitioner and respondent executed in Manila a contract (Agreement) for the joint custody of Stephanie. The parties chose Philippine courts as exclusive forum to adjudicate disputes arising from the Agreement. Respondent undertook to obtain from the Illinois court an order “relinquishing” jurisdiction to Philippine courts.
In 2004, petitioner sued respondent in the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, to enforce the Agreement. He submits the following arguments (a) the divorce decree obtained by respondent is void; (b) the Agreement novated the valid divorce decree, modifying the terms of child custody from sole (maternal) to joint; or (c) the Agreement is independent of the divorce decree obtained by respondent.
Respondent sought the dismissal of the complaint for lack of jurisdiction because of the Illinois court’s retention of jurisdiction to enforce the divorce decree.