Saturday, June 16, 2007

Can you legally force your spouse to live with and to love you?

Summary:

“The obligation to, live together, observe mutual, respect and fidelity is prompted by the spontaneous, mutual love and affection between husband and wife and cannot be enforced by any legal mandate or court order.”

The Family Code mentions the word “love” only twice. The first mention of the word is found in Title III which covers Articles 68 up to 73 on the rights and obligations of spouses . The second mention of the word “love” is in Article 220 which states the rights and duties of parents towards their unemancipated children. Paragraph (2) of the said article states that among the duties of parents towards their children is “to give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding.”

Article 68 states, "The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support." Since living together and observing mutual love, respect and fidelity are obligations under the law, the question is, can a wife or husband legally compel his or her spouse to come home and comply with such obligations?

The Supreme Court in the case of Ilusorio vs. Ilusorio-Bildner (G.R. No. 139789 July 19, 2001 and G.R. No. 139808 July 19, 2001) stated among other things that “consortium” or “coverture” (the obligation to, live together, observe mutual, respect and fidelity) is prompted by the spontaneous, mutual love and affection between husband and wife and cannot be enforced by any legal mandate or court order.

The Ilusorio decision written by Justice Pardo revolved around this issue: “May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with her in conjugal bliss? The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and living in conjugal dwelling may not be enforced by the extra-ordinary writ of habeas corpus.”

The Supreme Court as a final note in the Ilusorio decision stated, “No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to the man and woman’s free choice.”