Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Out of Wedlock

Dear insansapinas,

I've been planning to post this article from GMA news but more current news kept coming pushing it  to the archive. I dedicate this to a friend. Parang radyo, may dedikesyon portion pa.

They were both my classmates and friends in the Graduate School when they fell in love. The man was married and the woman was single. Broken-hearted, the legal wife left the family and went to the US. They never have their marriage annulled. Sabi niya magdusa sila. Indeed, they were not able to marry. They lived in until they have three children and  then separated. There was another woman involved again. I can't tell her, I told ya so.

The guy has four children from his previous marriage. He was a close friend of mine too that  some people thought that it was us who have a thing. Mali.  I was the previous wife's  confidant. Inaanak ko ang dowter nila.  When they were having the love triangle crisis, I was the naiipit -sa-gitna-ng-bato since the Other Woman was also confiding with me.Minsan napuno na ako kaya iniwasan ko na sila. Ano baliw, magpoproblema ng hindi ko problema. May problema rin ako, noh.

Since I am not a lawyer, I just copy pasted the article so that those people in the same predicament would have an idea what to expect when the patriarch dies. May lawyer naman tayong nagbabasa na pasundot-sundot magcomment.

Financial support and future inheritance from Ramon Revilla Sr. are widely believed to be part of the stakes in the unfolding Revilla family drama. What is Genelyn's family, not recognized in the law as "legitimate", really entitled to? GMA News Online examines the laws pertaining to families like Genelyn Magsaysay's.

The recent tragedy that befell one of the households of Ramon Revilla Sr. has many wondering whether the wealth of the former senator and matinee idol – either as future inheritance or present support for his progeny – had anything to do with the death of his son, Ramgen Bautista (also known as Ram Revilla).

In Facebook status posts previously left open to the public online, Ram’s mother, Genelyn Magsaysay, revealed some of the financial woes of her nine children with Don Ramon, in particular with their “allowances."

Authorities are looking into the claim by Ram’s personal assistant that Ram Revilla had a rift with his younger siblings, Ramona and RJ, both of whom were considered suspects in their brother’s slaying. But Genelyn has consistently denied that her children would resort to killing each other to settle their differences.

If financial support and future inheritance were part of the stakes in this unfolding drama, what was Genelyn's family, not recognized in the law as "legitimate", really entitled to?

The following is an examination of the laws pertaining to families like Genelyn Magsaysay's.

Revilla Law on Surname of illegitimate children

Don Ramon is not married to Genelyn, nor was she the only woman he had sired children with. He has had at least 72 children with some 16 different women.

It is interesting to note that Revilla authored Republic Act 9255, which amended the Family Code to allow illegitimate children to carry their father's surname if the father had acknowledged them through the record of birth, public documents or private handwritten papers.

“The child should not suffer the stigma of his illegitimacy," Revilla explained before RA 9255 was enacted in February 2004.

Not only were Don Ramon’s children borne out of wedlock able to use his surname (either the one he was born with, Bautista, or his movie monicker, Revilla), but RA 9255 – popularly known as the ‘Revilla Law’ – also benefited Genelyn who herself is the love child of the late Senator Genaro Magsaysay and former actress Lyn Madrigal, the same lola who has been seen in the news visiting murder suspect RJ Baustista, Ramgen's younger brother.

Unions without marriage, property relations

Genelyn had also posted on Facebook a photograph of herself with Don Ramon in what she described as a “consecration" ceremony in what appeared to be a church setting. Under the Family Code, such consecration rites not performed before a solemnizing officer cannot be deemed as a valid marriage ceremony. Thus no legal matrimonial bond is made.

When a single man and a single woman who can legally get married to each other but fail to do so and yet live together exclusively as husband and wife, the couple’s “property regime" – or how their properties relate to them during and after their union – is governed by Article 147 of the Family Code. Since Don Ramon is a widower and Genelyn is single, they are legally qualified to marry each other.

It is wrong, however, to say that Article 147 recognizes any right to inherit because such a union without the benefit of marriage does not make one party a legal heir of the other. In other words, Genelyn can get no compulsory inheritance from Don Ramon’s estate should he pass away. What would merely happen is that she will get to recover her contributions to the property regime.

What, then, are the contributions of Genelyn to the property regime of her union with Don Ramon? Article 147 provides that she is deemed to have contributed equally in the acquisition of property or income because she undertook the care and maintenance of the couple’s family and household. To emphasize, when the property regime is dissolved, she merely recovers her contributions and does not inherit anything from Don Ramon.

Inheritance of illegitimate children

The situation is different for Genelyn’s children with Don Ramon – because children, be they legitimate or illegitimate, get inheritance from their parents. In other words, his 72 or so children will get to inherit property from Don Ramon but none of their mothers – save for Don Ramon’s legal wife, said to be the deceased Azucena Mortel Bautista, Bong Revilla's mother – will get an inheritance.

The Family Code provides that the legally mandated share in compulsory inheritance, or “legitime", of an illegitimate child must be half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Moreover, the legitime of the surviving spouse is equal to that of a legitimate child. Also, when last wills and testaments are made, the provisions bequeathing property must “not impair the legitimes" – meaning that, the inheritance of all legal heirs must be left intact and in the proper proportions.

It must be noted that with inheritance or succession, the property only passes to the legal heirs upon the death of the decedent.

Support or ‘allowance’

The police are looking into the angle that Ram’s murder started with siblings squabbling over the “allowances" they had been getting from Don Ramon.

Having been Don Ramon’s eldest among the nine children with Genelyn, Ramgen before his demise was reportedly left in charge of distributing the monthly allowances – which Genelyn complains has steadily declined to P150,000 – not only to his siblings but to his mother as well.

The Family Code provides that parents are mandated to give financial and other material support to his or her illegitimate children also, and not just to one’s legal spouse and legitimate children. The allowances given to members of Genelyn’s immediate family are in the nature of such legally mandated support.

However, Genelyn’s allowance is not support but rather partakes of her equal contribution under the Article 147 property regime, again because she maintains and manages the household.

Quite notably, unlike the distribution of compulsory inheritance – with an illegitimate child getting only half the inheritance a legitimate child would get – the Family Code does not provide for any such “pro-rata" allocation. In other words, a parent must give support to his or her children equitably, regardless of whether the child’s birthright is legitimate or illegitimate.
The only limit imposed on support given to illegitimate children is imposed on the parent who is in a valid marriage with someone else. Support given to one’s illegitimate children should first come out of one’s own pocket because, after all, the legal spouse is not under any legal obligation to support children not his or hers.

Only when one’s own property is not enough to cover support for one’s illegitimate children can one then take some amounts drawn from the property regime of one’s valid marriage. But such amounts taken to support one’s illegitimate children – who are not the children of one’s legal spouse – shall be considered as advances and later be deducted from one’s share in the marriage’s joint property.

In other words, amounts spent on support for one’s illegitimate children are deducted from one’s own share in the property regime so as not to prejudice the share of the legal spouse in that property regime. 

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