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Family Home

GR No. 170829
PATRICIO VS. DARIO
NOVEMBER 20, 2006

FACTS:

M died intestate and was survived by his wife and two children.  The surviving heirs extrajudicially settled his estate.  One of the properties he left was the family home.  A new title for the said property was thereafter issued under the name of the wife and the two children as co-owners.  After some time, the wife and one of the sons expressed their desire to partition the family home and terminate the co-ownership.  The other son opposed the partition on the ground that the family home should remain despite the death of one or both the spouses as long as there is a minor beneficiary thereof.  The supposed minor beneficiary is oppositor's son, the grandchild of the decedent.

ISSUE:

Whether the partition of the family home is proper where one of the co-owners refuse to accede to such a partition on the ground that a minor beneficiary still resides in the said home.

HELD:

To be a beneficiary of the family home, three requisites must concur: (1) they must be among the relationships enumerated in Art. 154 of the Family Code; (2) they live in the family home; and (3) they are dependent for legal support upon the head of the family.

As to the first requisite, the beneficiaries of the family home are: (1) The husband and wife, or an unmarried person who is the head of a family; and (2) Their parents, ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, whether the relationship be legitimate or illegitimate. The term 'descendants' contemplates all descendants of the person or persons who constituted the family home without distinction; hence, it must necessarily include the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the spouses who constitute a family home. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemos. Where the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish. Thus, private respondent's minor son, who is also the grandchild of the deceased satisfies the first requisite.

As to the second requisite, minor beneficiaries must be actually living in the family home to avail of the benefits derived from Art. 159. The son of private respondent and grandson of the decedent  has been living in the family home since 1994, or within 10 years from the death of the decedent, hence, he satisfies the second requisite.

However, as to the third requisite, the grandson cannot demand support from his paternal grandmother if he has parents who are capable of supporting him. The liability for legal support falls primarily on his parents, especially his father, herein private respondent who is the head of his immediate family. The law first imposes the obligation of legal support upon the shoulders of the parents, especially the father, and only in their default is the obligation imposed on the grandparents.

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