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Aug 13, 2008

G.R. No. 83598, March 7, 1997

  • Presumption of marriage
  • Although a marriage contract is considered primary evidence of marriage, the failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place.


This is an action for partition brought by Ramonito and Generoso Balogbog against Leoncia and Gaudioso Balogbog. Ramonito and Generoso claimed that they were the legitimate children of Catalina and Gavino, the elder brother of Leoncia and Gaudioso. Gavino died in 1935, predeceasing their parents, the grandparents of Ramonito and Generoso.

Ramonito and Generoso presented witnesses: one, the mayor of Asturias from 1928 to 1934, another, who was a family friend, and Catalina herself. For its part, defendants denied knowing Ramonito and Generoso and claimed that Gavino died single and without issue. As proof of this, they presented certificates showing that there was no record in the Register of both the marriage between Gavino and Catalina and the birth of Ramonito.

The lower court rendered judgment in favor of Ramonito and Generoso. CA affirmed, holding that private respondents failed to overcome the legal presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are in fact married, that a child is presumed to be legitimate, and that things happen according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life.

Hence this petition.

  • Whether or not the presumption of marriage applies
  • Whether or not Ramonito and Generoso were legitimate children of Gavino


The SC found no reversible error committed by the CA.

Petitioner contends that the marriage of Gavino and Catalina should be proven in accordance of Arts. 53 and 54 of the Civil Code of 1889 (only by a certified copy of the memorandum in the Civil Registry) since the marriage was celebrated when such law was in effect.

But the SC noted that Arts. 42 to 107 of the Civil Code of 1889 of Spain did not take effect, having been suspended by the Governor General of the Philippines shortly after the extension of that code to this country. Consequently, Arts. 53 and 54 never came into force. Since this case was brought in the lower court in 1968, the existence of the marriage must be determined in accordance with the present Civil Code, which repealed the provisions of the former Civil Code, except as they related to vested rights, and the rules on evidence.

Under the Rules of Court, the presumption is that a man and a woman conducting themselves as husband and wife are legally married. This presumption may be rebutted only by cogent proof to the contrary.

Evidence consisting of the testimonies of witnesses was held competent to prove the marriage. Indeed, although a marriage contract is considered primary evidence of marriage, the failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place. Other evidence may be presented to prove marriage.

Rationale for the presumption

The law favors the validity of marriage, because the State is interested in the preservation of the family and the sanctity of the family is a matter of constitutional concern.

Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee: The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is “that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.” Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. Always presume marriage.

Legitimacy of Children

The SC held that the fact that there was no record of birth in the Civil Registry does not mean that Ramonito and Generoso were not legitimate children. Their legitimacy was proved by testimony of witnesses, including Catalina, the mother herself. Moreover, there was submitted an official transcript of an investigation before the Police Investigation Committee of Balamban, Cebu, wherein Gaudioso himself admitted that Ramonito is his nephew.

The Court held this admission of relationship as admissible against Gaudioso as a reliable declaration against interest.

Decision affirmed.


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