Thursday, March 19, 2009

Article 176 Family Code: how to compute the inheritance of legitimate and illegitimate children

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An illegitimate child gets only 50% of what a legitimate child is entitled to

Through an e-mail, I was informed of some confusion in the amount of inheritance an illegitimate child is supposed to get from his biological father or mother. Some blogs and websites say that an illegitimate child will get as inheritance exactly what a legitimate child will get. This is totally erroneous because of the clear wording of Article 176. The article states:

Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children may use surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. Provided, the father has the right to institute an action before the regular courts to prove non-filiation during his lifetime. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. (As amended by Republic Act 9255, approved February 24,2004; emphasis by boldfacing supplied)
What does the last sentence of Article 176 clearly say? “The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child.” So how come these blogs and websites say that an illegitimate child will get exactly what a legitimate child will get by way of inheritance?

The books on civil law by the late Justice Edgardo L. Paras are still the premier textbooks for law students and lawyers. In his Pre-Week Handbook on Civil Law (pages 274 and 275, 1989 Edition), Justice Paras gives an example of how to compute the legitimes of legitimate and illegitimate children:
Special Rule If Legitimate and Illegitimate Children Survived Together, With or Without the Surviving Spouse

1. First divide the estate among them in the proportion of 10, 5 (10 — for each legitimate child, 10 — for the surviving spouse, 5 — for each illegitimate child) — PROVIDED that with this proportion, the legitimes of the legitimate children and of the surviving spouse are NOT decreased. (Reason: the intestate shares are either the SAME or GREATER than the legitimes; NEVER LESSER).

2. If said legitimes are impaired, just give the legitimes – and these will also be their INTESTATE shares.


Intestate Estate = Php 15,000.00

Survivors: 1 leg- child, 1 illegitimate child

Give their intestate shares.

ANS. Apply 10, 5

I legitimate child = 10 shares

1 illegitimate child = 5 shares

Total: 15 shares

15 shares = Php 15,000.00

1 share = Php 1,000.00

Therefore: 1 legitimate child = 10 (Php 1.000.00) = P10,000.00

1 illegitimate child = 5 (PI ,000.00) = Php 5,000.00
An algebraic way of presenting the example of Justice Paras is this: Let X be the amount of legitime for the legitimate child and X/2 be the legitime of the illegitimate child.
X + X/2 = Php 15,000.00

(2X + X)/2 = Php 15,000.00

3X/2 = Php 15,000.00

3X = Php 30,000.00

X = Php 10,000.00 (the share of the legitimate child)

x/2 = Php 5,000.00 (the share of the illegitimate child)
Let’s say that the heirs are the surviving spouse, three legitimate children and one illegitimate child. Let’s say the estate (the totality of the property left by the deceased spouse) is Php 200,000.00. First of all, deduct 50% or Php 100,00.00 as the surviving spouse's share in the conjugal property. The remaining Php 100,000.00 will then be divided among the heirs (the surviving spouse is counted as one child).

The solution goes like this:
Let X be the amount of legitime for each of the legitimate children and the surviving spouse.

X (surviving spouse) + (legitimate children) X + X + X + (one illegitimate child) X/2 = Php 100,000.00

4X + X/2 = Php 100,000.00

4X/1 + X/2 = Php 100,000.00

9X/2 = Php 100,000.00

X = Php 22,222.22 (the share of each of the legitimate children and of the surviving spouse)

X/2 = Php 11,111.11 (the share of the illegitimate child in view of Article 176)
Back in the early 1970’s, I lost my NSDB science scholarship in UP Diliman because I failed Physics 41 and Engineering Science I, and barely passed Math 17. If you think my mathematical solutions are wrong, hey, feel free to comment!