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Van Dorn vs Romillo Jr.
139 scra 139
Nationality Principle – Divorce
Petitioner Alice Reyes is a citizen of the Philippines while private respondent is a citizen of the United States; they were married in Hongkong. Thereafter, they established their residence in the Philippines and begot two children. Subsequently, they were divorced in Nevada, United States, and that petitioner has re-married also in Nevada, this time to Theodore Van Dorn.
Private respondent filed suit against petitioner, stating that petitioner’s business in Manila is their conjugal property; that petitioner he ordered to render accounting of the business and that private respondent be declared to manage the conjugal property. Petitioner moved to dismiss the case contending that the cause of action is barred by the judgment in the divorce proceedings before the Nevada Court. The denial now is the subject of the certiorari proceeding.
ISSUE: Whether or not the divorce obtained by the parties is binding only to the alien spouse.
HELD: Is it true that owing to the nationality principle embodied 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. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the standards of American Law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage.
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner’s husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the decision of his own country’s court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is stopped by his own representation before said court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal property.
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