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San Luis vs. San Luis (GR No.

133743, February 6, 2007)


Bigamy Void Marriage
Facts: During his lifetime, Felicisimo (Rodolfos dad) contracted three marriages. His first
marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out of which were born six children. On
August 11, 1963, Virginia predeceased Felicisimo.
Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had a
son, Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an American citizen, filed a Complaint
for Divorce before the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, which issued a Decree
Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Custody on December 14, 1973. On June 20,
1974, Felicisimo married Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos. He had no children
with respondent but lived with her for 18 years from the time of their marriage up to his death on
December 18, 1992. Upon death of his dad Rodolfo sought the dissolution of their conjugal
partnership assets and the settlement of Felicisimos estate. On December 17, 1993, she filed a
petition for letters of administration before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City. Rodolfo
claimed that respondent has no legal personality to file the petition because she was only a
mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his death, was still legally married to Merry
Lee. Felicidad presented the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First
Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had already been
dissolved. Thus, she claimed that Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry her by virtue of
paragraph 2 Article 26 of the Family Code.
Rodolfo asserted that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive
effect to validate respondents bigamous marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair
vested rights in derogation of Article 256.
ISSUE: Whether or not Felicidads marriage to Felicisimo is bigamous.
HELD: The divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed
Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the present
petition as Felicisimos surviving spouse. However, the records show that there is insufficient
evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of
respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, the Court laid down
the specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and divorce judgments. It held that
presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due
execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may
be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication
or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is
not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the
proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.
With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized in California, U.S.A.,
she submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and the annotated text of the Family Law
Act of California which purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with the
said law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws as
they must be alleged and proved.
The case should be remanded to the trial court for further reception of evidence on the divorce
decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo.