Only the wife may file a complaint for concubinage

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My friend’s aunt wants to file a complaint for concubinage against my friend’s husband because he has a girlfriend who lives in Canada. This girl is the reason why my friend and her husband have been fighting a lot the past couple of months that led to their separation. My friend decided to leave their conjugal house and stay with her aunt since he is always on the computer or his mobile device talking or texting to his girlfriend. Although my friend is already fed up with her husband, she does not think she will be able to have the courage to file a complaint against her husband, so her aunt wants to pursue the complaint for her. Do you think this is possible? Please advise me. Thank you.
Tam

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Dear Tam,
Husbands and wives are not only mandated under our law to live together. They are also obliged to remain faithful and loyal to each other. If one of the spouses fail to comply with these tenets, he/she is violating the very provisions of our laws particularly Article 68 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which provides: “The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.”

Violations of civil laws, however, are not automatically equated to violations of criminal laws vis-à-vis, infidelity and disrespect of the husband cannot be necessarily equated to the commission of the crime of concubinage.

In order for concubinage to exist, it must be clearly established that the husband keeps a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place (Article 334, Revised Penal Code).

In the situation that you have presented, although it is clear that he is maintaining a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend in Canada, we fail to see the existence of any of the aforementioned circumstances of the crime of concubinage as your friend’s husband is not keeping a mistress in the conjugal dwelling. Neither was it shown that he and his girlfriend had sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances, or that he cohabited with her in any other place.

We wish to emphasize as well that only the wife may file a complaint for concubinage. It is explicitly stated under Article 344 of the law that “[t]he crimes of adultery and concubinage shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse. x x x”

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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