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Laperal vs.

Republic (1962)

Summary Cases:

● Elisea Laperal vs. Republic 116 Phil 672

Subject:

Language of Article 372 Mandatory (No Severance of Vinculum in Legal Separation); No More Occasion
for Liquidation of Conjugal Assets

Facts:

Petitioner Elisea Laperal married Enrique Santamaria in 1939. In 1958, a partial decision was entered by
the Supreme Court and Enrique was given a decree of legal separation from her. That said partial
decision had then become final.

Therafter, Elisea filed with the Court of First Instance of Baguio a petition which mentioned that her
maiden name was Elisea Laperal and that during her marriage to Enrique, she naturally used, instead of
her maiden name, that of Elisea L. Santamaria. She further said that aside from her legal separation
from Enrique, she had also ceased to live with him for many years now. In view of such, Elisea prayed
that she be allowed to resume using her maiden name.

The court initially denied the petition for the reason that Article 372 of the Civil Code required the wife,
even after she was decreed legally separated from her husband, to continue using the name and
surname she employed before the legal separation. However, the court reconsidered its decision and
granted the petition on the ground that to allow petitioner, who was a businesswoman decreed legally
separated from her husband, to continue using her married name would give rise to confusion in her
finances and the eventual liquidation of the conjugal assets.

The Republic appealed before the Supreme Court and argued that according to Article 372 of the New
Ciivl Code, when legal separation has been granted, the wife shall continue using her name and
surname employed before the legal separation.

Held:

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Language of Article 372 Mandatory (No Severance of Vinculum in Legal Separation)

1. When legal separation has been granted, the wife shall continue using her name and surname
employed before the legal separation. (Article 372, New Civil Code)

2. Note that the language of the statute is mandatory that the wife, even after the legal separation
has been decreed, shall continue using her name and surname employed before the legal
separation.

3. This is so because her married status is unaffected by the separation, there being no
severance of the vinculum. It seems to be the policy of the law that the wife should continue to
use the name indicative of her unchanged status for the benefit of all concerned.

No More Occasion for Liquidation of Conjugal Assets

4. With the issuance of the decree of legal separation, the conjugal partnership between
petitioner and her husband had automatically been dissolved and liquidated. Consequently, there
could be no more occasion for an eventual liquidation of the conjugal assets, like what the
second decision of the trial court provided as a reason for reconsidering the petition.

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