FAQ’s on Civil & Family Law

FAQ’s on Civil & Family Law

What should be the root causes of psychological incapacity?

The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts, and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

When may the heirs enter into an agreement different from those prescribed by law?

Without creditors to take into consideration, it is competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into an agreement for distribution thereof in a manner and upon a plan different from those provided by the rules from which, in the first place, nothing can be inferred that a writing or other formality is essential for the partition to be valid.

What is meeting of the minds in a contract of sale?

The meeting of the minds in a contract speaks of the intent of the parties in entering into the contract respecting the subject matter and the consideration thereof, and if the words of the contract appear to be contrary to the evident intention of the parties, the latter shall prevail over the former.

What are the requisites of accretion as a mode of acquiring property?

Accretion as a mode of acquiring property under Article 457 of the Civil Code, requires the concurrence of the following requisites: (1) that the accumulation of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible; (2) that it be the result of the action of the waters of the river; and (3) that the land where the accretion takes place is adjacent to the bank of the river.

What is the purpose of adoption?

The main purpose of adoption statutes is the promotion of the welfare of children. The law must also be applied with compassion, understanding and less severity in view of the fact that it is intended to provide home, love, care and education for less fortunate children.

In a contract of sale is there a difference between an agent and a broker?

An agent receives a commission upon the successful conclusion of a sale. A broker earns his pay merely by bringing the buyer and the seller together, even if no sale is eventually made.  The fact that a person invested his own money to put service centers and showrooms does not necessarily prove that he is not an agent of a car manufacturer.

When do Special Powers of Attorney continue to have force and effect as against third persons who had no knowledge of such lack of authority?

Absent a valid revocation duly furnished to the mortgagee, Special Powers of Attorney continue to have force and effect as against third persons who had no knowledge of such lack of authority.

As to third persons, when is an act deemed to be within the scope of an agent’s authority?

As far as third persons are concerned, an act is deemed to have been performed within the scope of the agent’s authority if such is within the the terms of the power of attorney as written even if the agent has in fact exceeded the limits of his authority according to the understanding between the principal and the agent.

In alteration of plans, is written approval from the National Housing Authority sufficient?

In alteration plans, written approval of the National Housing Authority alone is not sufficient. It must be coupled with the written conformity or consent of the duly organized homeowners association or the majority of the lot buyers.

In contracts, what is the difference between cause and motive?

Cause is the essential reason for the contract, while motive is the particular reason of a contracting party which does not affect the other party and which does not preclude the existence of a different consideration. Article 1351 of the Civil Code provides that “the particular motives of the parties in entering into a contract are different from the cause thereof.”

What are the powers of the court having supervision and control of the properties of a deceased?

The court which acquired jurisdiction over the properties of a deceased person through the filing of the corresponding proceedings, has supervision and control over the said properties, and under the said power, it is its inherent duty to see that the inventory submitted by the administrator appointed by it contains all the properties, rights and credits which the law requires the administrator to set out in his inventory. In compliance with this duty, the court has also inherent power to determine what properties, rights and credits of the deceased should be included in or excluded from the inventory. Should an heir or person interested in the properties of a deceased person duly call the court’s attention to the fact that certain properties, rights or credits have been left out in the inventory, it is likewise the court’s duty to hear the observations, with power to determine if such observations should be attended to or not and if the properties referred to therein belong prima facie to the intestate, but no such determination is final and ultimate in nature as to the ownership of the said properties.

Does the acceptance of payment from a third person constitute novation, thereby releasing the original debtor from his obligation?

It is a very common thing in the business affairs for a stranger to a contract to assume its obligations; and while this may have the effect of adding to the number of persons liable, it does not necessarily imply the extinguishment of the liability of the first debtor. The mere fact that the creditor receives a guaranty or accepts payments from a third person who has agreed to assume the obligation, when there is no agreement that the first debtor shall be released from responsibility, does not constitute a novation, and the creditor can still enforce the obligation against the original debtor.

Is consignation applicable to a lease with option to buy?

In Vda. de Quirino v. Palarca,  it was ruled that consignation referred to in Article 1256 of the Civil Code is inapplicable to a lease with option to buy because said provision refers to consignation as one of the means for the payment or discharge of a “debt,” whereas the lessee was not indebted to the lessor for the price of the leased premises. The lessee merely exercised a right of option and had no obligation to pay said price until execution of the deed of sale in his favor, which the lessor refused to do.

What is “lis pendens”?

Lis pendens is a Latin term which literally means a pending suit or a pending litigation while a notice of lis pendens is an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation, serving as a warning that one who acquires an interest over the said property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over the said property. It is but a signal to the intending buyer or mortgagee to take care or beware and to investigate the prospect or non-prospect of the litigation succeeding before he forks down his money.

What is extraordinary inflation and what is its effect on contractual obligations?

Extraordinary inflation exists when ‘there is a decrease or increase in the purchasing power of the Philippine currency which is unusual or beyond the common fluctuation in the value of said currency, and such decrease or increase could not have been reasonably foreseen or was manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time of the establishment of the obligation. It is only when an extraordinary inflation supervenes that the law affords the parties a relief in contractual obligations.Art. 1250 of the Civil Code provides that “in case an extraordinary inflation or deflation of the currency stipulated should supervene, the value of the currency at the time of the establishment of the obligation shall be the basis of the payment, unless there is an agreement to the contrary”.

Is there a legal necessity to declare a deed of donation as null and void even if the deed itself declares it as such?

By the very express provision in the deed of donation itself that the violation of the condition thereof would render ipso facto null and void the deed of donation, there would be no legal necessity anymore to have the donation judicially declared null and void for the reason that the very deed of donation itself declares it so. For were it otherwise and that the donors and the donee contemplated a court action during the execution of the deed of donation to have the donation judicially rescinded or declared null and void should the condition be violated, then the phrase reading ‘would render ipso facto null and void’ would not appear in the deed of donation.

Which is preferred between an unrecorded title of a house of a prior date and a recorded mortgage of the same house of later date?

Between an unrecorded title of a house of a prior date and a recorded mortgage of the same house of later date, the former is preferred for the reason that, if the original owner had parted with his ownership of the thing sold, then he no longer had the ownership and free disposal of that thing so as to be able to mortgage it.

In a contract, how is the intention of the parties ascertained?

The important task in contract interpretation is always the ascertainment of the intention of the contracting  parties and that task is of course to be discharged by looking to the words they used to project that intention in their contract, all the words not just a particular word or two, and words in context not standing

Is there a presumption in law that the terms of a lease are for the benefit of a lessee alone?

There is no presumption in law that the term of a lease is designated for the benefit of the lessee alone. In a reciprocal contract like a lease, the period of the lease must be deemed to have been agreed upon for the benefit of both parties, absent language showing that the term was deliberately set for the benefit of thelessee or lessor alone.

What is the degree of evidence required to hold a person liable for damages under Article 33 of the Civil Code?

To hold a person liable for damages under Article 33 of the Civil Code, only a preponderance of evidence is required. An acquittal in a criminal case is not a bar to the filing of an action for civil damages, for one may not be criminally liable and still be civilly liable. Thus, the outcome or result of the criminal case, whether an acquittal or conviction, is really inconsequential and will be of no moment in the civil action.

Is the civil action contemplated on Article 33 of the Civil Code dependent on the existence of a criminal action?

To subordinate the civil action contemplated in Arts. 33 and 2177 of the Civil Code to the result of the criminal prosecution would render meaningless the independent character of the civil action when, on the contrary, the law provides that such civil action “may proceed independently of the criminal proceeding and regardless of the result of the latter.” Art. 33 of the Civil Code contemplates a civil action for recovery of damages that is entirely unrelated to the purely criminal aspect of the case. This  is the reason why only a preponderance of evidence and not proof beyond reasonable doubt is deemed sufficient in such civil action.

Should a stipulation in the lease contract which provides for the extension of the period of lease be interpreted to mean that the lease may be extended at the option alone of the lessee or the lessor?

A stipulation in the lease contract which provides for the extension of the period of lease, the terms and conditions of which are subject to the mutual agreement of the lessor and the lessee, should be interpreted to mean that the lease may be extended only upon mutual agreement of the parties and not at the option alone of the lessee or even the lessor for that matter.

Which spouse should be reimbursed for improvements made on their property?

The Civil Code says that improvements, “whether for utility or adornment, made on the separate property of the spouses through advancements from the partnership or through the industry of either the husband or the wife, belong to the conjugal partnership,” and buildings “constructed, at the expense of the partnership, during the marriage on land belonging to one of the spouses, also pertain to the partnership, but the value of the land shall be reimbursed to the spouse who owns the same.”  Proof, therefore, is needful of the time of the making or construction of the improvements and the source of the funds used therefor, in order to determine the character of the improvements as belonging to the conjugal partnership or to one spouse separately.

What are the two options given to a person in making a partition of his estate?

Art. 1080 of the Civil Code clearly gives a person two options in making a partition of his estate; either by an act inter vivos or by will. When a person makes a partition by will, it is imperative that such partition must be executed in accordance with the provisions of the law on wills; however, when a person makes the partition of his estate by an act inter vivos, such partition may even be oral or written, and need not be in the form of a will, provided that the partition does not prejudice the legitime of compulsory heirs.

When can parol partitions be recognized by a court on the basis of estoppel?

In numerous cases it has been held or stated that parol partitions may be sustained on the ground of estoppel of the parties to assert the rights of a tenant in common as to parts of land divided by parol partition as to which possession in severalty was taken and acts of individual ownership were exercised. And a court of equity will recognize the agreement and decree it to be valid and effectual for the purpose of concluding the right of the parties as between each other to hold their respective parts in severalty. A parol partition may also be sustained on the ground that the parties thereto have acquiesced in and ratified the partition by taking possession in severalty, exercising acts of ownership with respect thereto, or otherwise recognizing the existence of the partition.

If in a contract of sale there is a conflict between the area and boundary of the property, which description should prevail?

It has been held that in cases of conflict between areas and boundaries, it is the latter which should prevail. What really defines a piece of ground is not the area, calculated with more or less certainty, mentioned in its description, but the boundaries therein laid down, as enclosing the land and indicating its limits. In a contract of sale of land in a mass, it is well established that the specific boundaries stated in the contract must control over any statement with respect to the area contained within its boundaries. It is not of vital consequence that a deed or contract of sale of land should disclose the area with mathematical accuracy. It is sufficient if its extent is objectively indicated with sufficient precision to enable one to identify it. An error as to the superficial area is immaterial.

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