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Case Digest - Civil Law

GARCIA vs. RECIO
FACTS:
Rederick Recio, a Filipino was married to Editha Samson, an Australian citizen, in Malabon, Rizal on March 1, 1987. On May 18, 1989 a decree of divorce was issued by an Australian family court. On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen and on January 12, 1994, he married Grace Garcia in Cabanatuan City.
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent live separately without prior dissolution of their marriage. Their conjugal assets were divided on May 16, 1996 in accordance with their statutory Declarations secured in Australia.
On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a complaint for declaration of Nullity of Marriage on the ground of bigamy. On July 7, 1998, respondent was able to secure a divorce decree from a family court in Australia. The court admitted the evidence and declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce decree issued in Australia was valid and recognized in the Philippines.
ISSUE:
The two pivotal issues are (1) whether the divorce between respondent and Editha Samson was proven, and (2) whether respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to marry petitioner.
RULING
The petition is partly meritorious.
Before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. Presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient.
The court ordered a REMAND of the case to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence which conclusively show respondent’s legal capacity to marry petitioner; and falling in that of declaring the parties’ marriage void on the ground of bigamy.

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