G.R. No. 138322. October 02, 2001 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title: Garcia vs. Recio

### Facts:
The case involves Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino who became an Australian citizen, and Grace J. Garcia, a Filipina. The couple married on January 12, 1994, in the Philippines. Before this marriage, Recio had married an Australian citizen, Editha Samson, in 1987 and obtained a divorce in Australia in 1989. Upon marrying Garcia, Recio declared himself as “single” and “Filipino.” The marriage eventually faltered, and starting October 22, 1995, the couple lived separately. On March 3, 1998, Garcia filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage on the grounds of bigamy, claiming she learned of Recio’s first marriage only in November 1997. Recio countered that he had disclosed his prior marriage and its dissolution before their wedding. He obtained another divorce decree from a family court in Sydney, Australia, on July 7, 1998.

The case ascended from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cabanatuan City to the Philippine Supreme Court, with Garcia challenging the RTC’s decision which recognized Recio’s foreign divorce and declared their marriage dissolved. The RTC had ruled without requiring the presentation of the Australian law governing Recio’s divorce or his legal capacity to remarry.

### Issues:
1. Whether the foreign divorce between Recio and Editha Samson was proven sufficiently.
2. Whether Recio was proven to be legally capacitated to marry Garcia in 1994.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court partly granted the petition, emphasizing the need for foreign laws and judgments to be adequately proven in Philippine courts. It stated that while the divorce decree was admitted as evidence, the presence of a restriction in the decree necessitated further proof of its effects under Australian law. The burden of proof regarding the legal capacity to remarry lied with Recio, who failed to sufficiently demonstrate this capacity. As such, the case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings focused on Recio’s legal capacity to remarry. If proven incapacitated, the marriage could be declared null on the grounds of bigamy.

### Doctrine:
The Supreme Court reiterated that a foreign divorce decree must be proven according to Philippine law of evidence, requiring both the decree itself and the foreign law allowing the divorce to be demonstrated. Also, it underscored that Philippine courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws; they must be alleged and proven like any other fact.

### Class Notes:
Essential to remember from this case are:
– Philippine law does not allow absolute divorce, and Philippine courts cannot grant it.
– For mixed marriages, a foreign divorce obtained by the alien spouse can be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is proven valid according to the alien’s national law.
– The filing party bears the burden of proving the foreign law validating the divorce.
– Foreign laws and judgments must be proven and cannot be assumed or taken judicial notice of by Philippine courts.

Relevant legal statutes:
– Article 15 of the Civil Code: Governs the personal status of Philippine citizens, even when abroad.
– Article 26 of the Family Code: Allows a Filipino to remarry if a foreign divorce decree capacitates their alien spouse to do so.
– Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25 of the Rules of Court: Outline the requirements for admitting foreign public documents as evidence.

### Historical Background:
The case reflects the complexities of recognizing foreign divorce decrees in the Philippines, a country that does not allow divorce for its citizens, except in certain cases as provided by the Family Code, highlighting the interplay between national jurisdiction and international matrimonial laws.


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