Unnecessary and dispensable party
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2018 - 12:00am

This is another case of love triangle. The question arising here is the liability of the third party in the love triangle, or the common-law wife, in connection with a case involving the conjugal properties of the husband and his legal wife. Is she a party in interest or a necessary and indispensable party in a dispute between husband and wife over their conjugal properties? This is the question answered in this case filed by Linda against her husband Tito and the latter’s living-in partner, Tessie.

Linda and Tito are legally married and have four legitimate children. When their children were still growing up, the relationship between Linda and Tito has gone into the rocks until Tito finally abandoned and lived separately from Linda and their children. When Tito left his family, he also arrogated unto himself full and exclusive control and administration of the conjugal properties, spending and using the same for his sole gain and benefit, in total exclusion of Linda and their four children. To avoid his obligations as father and husband, Tito excluded Linda and her four children from sharing and benefitting from the conjugal properties and the income or fruits thereon, placed them in his name alone, or otherwise removed, transferred and stashed or concealed them from Linda.

Later on and after eight years of living alone and apart from his family, Tito met, fell in love and co-habited with Tessie. During their period of co-habitation, they have amassed a fortune mainly, if not solely through the efforts and industry of Tito, his actual contribution of stockholdings in the family owned and controlled corporations, residential, agricultural, commercial lots, houses, apartments and buildings, cars and other motor vehicles, bank accounts and jewelry. However, these properties acquired during their cohabitation are in the names of Tito and Tessie, singly or jointly, or their dummies and proxies.

And so, 25 years after Tito abandoned them, Linda filed a Petition against Tito and Tessie, for Appointment as Sole Administratrix of their Conjugal Partnership of Properties; for Accounting by Tito of said properties; for Forfeiture of Tito’s share in the co-owned properties acquired during his illicit relationship and co-habitation with Tessie as well as Tito’s share in the properties they co-owned. Linda likewise asked for support.

Three months after receipt of said Petition, Tessie filed a Motion to Dismiss the said Petition on the ground that Linda has no cause of action against her and that her inclusion as party defendant is not essential for the complete adjudication of the controversy. Is Tessie correct?

Yes said the Supreme Court. A cause of action is an act or omission of the defendant or respondent in violation of the legal right of the plaintiff. If the complaint does not show the existence of the claim for relief against the defendant, then it will be dismissed for lack of cause of action.

In this case, the complaint is by an aggrieved wife Linda against her husband Tito. Nowhere in the allegations of the complaint does it appear that relief is sought against Tessie. The first cause of action is for judicial appointment of Linda as administratrix of the conjugal properties from her marriage with Tito. Therefore her first cause of action is against Tito only. The second cause of action is for the accounting by her husband Tito of their conjugal properties arising from their marriage. Tessie has nothing to do with Linda’s marriage to Tito. The third, alternative cause of action here is for the forfeiture of the share of Tito in the properties acquired during the illicit relationship with Tessie. It does not involve the share of Tessie but on the share of Tito alone or of the validity of the co-ownership between Tito and Tessie. So the cause of action pertains only to Tito. Tessie’s participation in the case is dispensable. Certainly the court can issue a judgment ordering Tito to render an accounting of his conjugal partnership with Linda, give support to Linda and their four children, dissolve their conjugal partnership and forfeit Tito’s share in his illicit relationship with Tessie without including the latter in the case (Relucio vs.Lopez, G.R. L-138497, January 16, 2002).

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

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