2016 (Civil Law) Bar Exam Questions: Question 4

[Answer/discuss the question below, or see 2016 bar exam Civil Law Instructions; 2016 Labor Law Questions:   12345678910111213141516171819 and 20; See also 2016 Bar Exam: Information, Discussions, Tips, Questions and Results]


Leo married Lina and they begot a son. After the bitth oftheir child, Lina exhibited unusual behavior and started to neglect her son; she frequently went out with her friends and gambled in casinos. Lina later had extra-marital affairs with several men and eventually abandoned Leo and their son. Leo was able to talk to the psychiatrist of Lina who told him that Lina suffers from dementia praecox, a form of psychosis where the afflicted person is prone to commit homicidal attacks. Leo was once stabbed by Lina but fortunately he only suffered minor injuries. Will a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage filed with the court prosper? Explain. (5%)


  1. Bernard and Dorothy lived together as common-law spouses although they are both capacitated to marry. After one year of cohabitation, Dorothy went abroad to work in Dubai as a hair stylist and regularly sent money to Bernard. With the money, Bernard bought a lot. For a good price, Bernard sold the lot. Dorothy came to know about the acquisition and sale of the lot and filed a suit to nullify the sale because she did not give her consent to the sale.
    [a] Will Dorothy’s suit prosper? Decide with reasons. (2.5%)
    [b] Suppose Dorothy was jobless and did not contribute money to the acquisition of the lot and her efforts consisted mainly in the care and maintenance of the family and household, is her consent to the sale a prerequisite to its validity? Explain. (2.5%)
    Suggested Answer:

    (a) Yes, Dorothy’s suit to nullify the sale will prosper, Under Articles 147 or 148 of the Family Code provides that: If the parties had no legal impediment to marry each other, the property acquired by both spouses through their work and industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership wherein the property they acquired during their union is presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. However, the fruits of the couple’s separate property are not included in the co-ownership. On the other hand, if the common-law spouses suffered a legal impediment to marry or they did not live exclusively with each other, only the property acquired by both of them through their actual joint contribution of money property, or industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their respective contribution, therefore, the acquisition and sale of the
    lot is void.

    (b) Yes, even though Dorothy was jobless and did not contribute money to the acquisition of the lot and her efforts consisted mainly in the care and maintenance of the family and household and her consent to the sale a prerequisite to its validity still Art. 147 Par. (2) will govern and provides that: In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

  2. Section 1 of P.D. No. 755 states:

    “Section 1. Declaration of National Policy. – It is hereby declared that the policy of the State is to provide readily available credit facilities to the coconut farmers at preferential rates; that this policy can be expeditiously and efficiently realized by the implementation of the ‘Agreement for the Acquisition of a Commercial Bank for the Benefit of the Coconut Farmers’ executed by the Philippine Coconut Authority, the terms of which ‘Agreement’ are hereby incorporated by reference; x x x”

    A copy of the Agreement was not attached to the Presidential Decree.

    P.D. No. 755 was published in the Official Gazette but the text of the Agreement described in Section 1 was not published. Can the Agreement in question be accorded the status of a law? Explain. (5%)


    As Held in Cojuangco, Jr. VS. Republic, GR. NO. 180705

    Section 1 of PD 755 incorporated by reference, the “Agreement for the Acquisition of Commercial Bank for the “Benefit of the Coconut Farmers” executed by PCA. It bears to stress that the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement referred to in Section 1 of PD 755 was not reproduced or attached as an annex to the same law. And it is will settled that laws must be published to be valid. In fact publication is an indispensable for the effectivity of a law. The publication as further held in Tanada, must be of the full text of the law since the purpose of publication is to inform the public of the contents of the law. Mere referencing the number of the presidential decree, its title or whereabouts and its supposed date of effectivity would not satisfy the publication requirement. In this case, while it incorporated the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement by reference, Section 1 of PD 755 did not in any way reproduce the exact terms of the contract in the decree. Neither was a copy thereof attached to the decree when published. We cannot, therefore, extend to the said agreement the status of a law. Consequently, we join the Sandiganbayan in its holding that the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement shall be treated as an ordinary transaction between agreeing minds to be governed by contract law under the Civil Code.

    1. Publication must be in full otherwise it is not deemed published at all since its purpose is to inform the public of all its contents.

  3. The petition will not prosper.

    Under Art. 36 of the Civil Code, psychological incapacity as a ground to nullify a marriage must already be present during the celebration of marriage even if it may manifest only after the marriage.

    Here, there is no showing that Lina’s mental incapacity that prohibits her from performing her marital vows was already present prior to her marriage with Leo. Although she was diagnosed with dementia praecox, the same is not tantamount to psychological incapacity as contemplated by law. What the law requires is that psychological incapacity precedes marriage.

    Ergo, the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage will not prosper.

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