Can I file a case against my husband who is now living with another woman? He is a lawyer. We got married before he took the Bar examinations. I really thought he is a responsible man, but I was wrong. He did not only abandon me but also our two children. What hurts me more is the fact that he is flaunting their illicit relationship among our circle of friends. I just want to find justice for my situation.
A man and a woman who bound themselves in a contract of marriage are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support. These obligations are mandated by our law, more particularly under Article 68 of Executive Order 209, or more commonly known as the Family Code of the Philippines.
While our law provides an exemption to the obligation of the spouses of living together, such exemption only applies if there is valid and compelling reason for the spouses to live separately from each other. But in no case are they allowed to live separately if the same is not compatible with the solidarity of the family or will go against other provisions of our laws.
In the situation you have presented before us, we believe that your husband has violated his obligations to you by living with another woman without first having your marriage annulled or be declared as null and void. Even assuming that the two of you are having problems, his acts are not justified.
It may also be said that he can be held criminally responsible for concubinage should you be able to clearly establish that he is living with his mistress in your conjugal dwelling, or that he is having sexual intercourse with her, under scandalous circumstances, or that he is cohabiting with her in any other place. He may be penalized with prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, while his concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro (Article 334, Revised Penal Code). You may lodge your criminal complaint before the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor where the crime of concubinage is being committed.
You may also consider filing an administrative case against your husband for disbarment from the Roll of Attorneys if you can prove his evident immorality by abandoning you and your two children and maintaining an illicit relationship with another woman. As a lawyer, your husband is expected to live with a high degree of honesty, morality and integrity. In fact, the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly states: “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct” (Rule 1.01, Canon 1).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org