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Persons Case Digest: Llorente vs CA

Llorente vs CA
GR 124371 November 23, 2000

Lessons Applicable: Divorce

Laws Applicable: Art. 15,  Art. 17, Art. 26 FC

Alicia( 2nd wife) ß Lorenzo N. Llorente --- Paula (1ST wife) --- Ceferino Llorente (brother)
Crisologo Llorente(son)
  • Lorenzo N. Llorente was an enlisted serviceman of the United States Navy from March 10, 1927 to September 30, 1957
  • February 22, 1937: Lorenzo and Paula Llorente were married before a parish priest, Roman Catholic Church, in Nabua, Camarines Sur
  • Before the outbreak of the Pacific War, Lorenzo departed for the United States and Paula stayed in the conjugal home
  • November 30, 1943: Lorenzo was admitted to United States citizenship and Certificate of Naturalization
  • 1945: When Lorenzo was granted an accrued leave to visit his wife and he visited the Philippines, He discovered that his wife Paula was pregnant and was “living in” and having an adulterous relationship with his brother, Ceferino Llorente
  • December 4, 1945: Paula gave birth to a boy registered in the Office of the Registrar of Nabua as Crisologo Llorente with the certificate stating that the child was not legitimate and the line for the father’s name was left blank
  • Lorenzo refused to forgive Paula and live with her
  • February 2, 1946: the couple drew and signed a written agreement which was witnessed by Paula’s father and stepmother to the effect that
1.    all the family allowances allotted by the United States Navy as part of Lorenzo’s salary and all other obligations for Paula’s daily maintenance and support would be suspended
2.    they would dissolve their marital union in accordance with judicial proceedings
3.    they would make a separate agreement regarding their conjugal property acquired during their marital life; and
4.    Lorenzo would not prosecute Paula for her adulterous act since she voluntarily admitted her fault and agreed to separate from Lorenzo peacefully. 
  • November 16, 1951: Lorenzo returned and filed for divorce with the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego
  • December 4, 1952: the divorce decree became final
  • January 16, 1958: Lorenzo married Alicia F. Llorente in Manila and lived together as husband and wife and bore 3 children: Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surnamed Llorente
  • March 13, 1981: Lorenzo executed a Last Will and Testament where he bequeathed all his property to Alicia and their three children
  • December 14, 1983: Lorenzo filed with the RTC, Iriga, Camarines Sur, a petition for the probate and allowance of his last will and testament wherein Lorenzo moved that Alicia be appointed Special Administratrix of his estate
  • January 18, 1984: RTC denied the motion for the reason that the Lorenzo was still alive
  • January 24, 1984: RTC admitted finding that the will was duly executedthe will to probate
  • June 11, 1985: before the proceedings could be terminated, Lorenzo died
  • RTC on the petition for letters of administration filed by Paula over Lorenzo’s estate contending that she was the surviving spouse and WITHOUT terminating the testate proceedings filed by Alicia, gave due course to Paula’s petition
    • divorce decree granted to the late Lorenzo Llorente is void and inapplicable in the Philippines, therefore the marriage he contracted with Alicia Fortunato at Manila is void
      • Paula T. Llorente: 1/3 estate and ½ conjugal estate
      • illegitimate children, Raul, Luz and Beverly: 1/3 estate
  • RTC denied Alicia’s motion for reconsideration but modified that Raul and Luz Llorente are not children “legitimate or otherwise” of Lorenzo since they were not legally adopted by him thus, Beverly Llorente as the only illegitimate child of Lorenzo, entitles her to 1/3 of the estate and one-third (1/3) of the free portion of the estate
  • CA: Affirmed with modification

ISSUE: W/N the divorce is valid and proven

HELD: YES. Petition is GRANTED. REVERSES the decision of the Regional Trial Court and RECOGNIZES as VALID the decree of divorce granted in favor of the deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente by the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego, made final on December 4, 1952. REMANDS the cases to the court of origin for determination of the intrinsic validity of Lorenzo N. Llorente’s will and determination of the parties’ successional rights allowing proof of foreign law with instructions that the trial court shall proceed with all deliberate dispatch to settle the estate of the deceased within the framework of the Rules of Court.

  • Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.:
o    nationality principle in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and morality
o    Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided they are valid according to their national law
  • Quita v. Court of Appeals:
o    once proven that NO longer a Filipino citizen when he obtained the divorce, the ruling in Van Dorn would become applicable
  • Divorce of Lorenzo H. Llorente from his first wife Paula was valid and recognized in this jurisdiction as a matter of comity.  Now, the effects of this divorce (as to the succession to the estate of the decedent) are matters best left to the determination of the trial court.
  • The clear intent of Lorenzo to bequeath his property to his second wife and children by her is glaringly shown in the will he executed.  We do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since he was a foreigner, not covered by our laws on “family rights and duties, status, condition and legal capacity.
  • Whether the will is intrinsically valid and who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best proved by foreign law which must be pleaded and proved. 
  • Whether the will was executed in accordance with the formalities required is answered by referring to Philippine law.  In fact, the will was duly probated.