Thornton v. Thornton Case Digest, G.R. No. 154598, August 16, 2004

Thornton vs Thornton Case Digest


CORONA, J.:

Facts

Petitioner RICHARD BRIAN THORNTON was an American, respondent ADELFA FRANCISCO THORNTON was a Filipino.

They were married and had one daughter. After 3 years, the woman grew restless and bored as a plain housewife and wanted to return to her old job as GRO in a nightclub.

One day, the woman left the family home together with their daughter. She told her servants that she was going to Basilan.

The husband filed a petition for habeas corpus in the designated Family Court in Makati City but was dismissed because the child was in Basilan. When he went to Basilan, he didn’t find them. The barangay office issued a certification that the respondent was no longer residing there.

Petitioner filed another petition for habeas corpus in CA which could issue a writ of habeas corpus enforceable in the entire country.

The petition was denied by CA on the ground that it did not have jurisdiction over the case since RA 8369 (Family Courts Act of 1997) gave family courts exclusive jurisdiction over petitions for habeas corpus, it impliedly repealed RA 7902 (An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of CA) and B.P 129 (The judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.)

ISSUE

Whether or not CA has jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus in cases involving custody of minors in light of the provision in RA 8369 giving family courts exclusive jurisdiction over such petitions.

Ruling

Yes. Petition granted.

CA should take cognizance of the case because nothing in RA 8369 revoked its jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus involving custody of minors.

The reasoning of CA can’t be affirmed because it will result in iniquitous, leaving petitioners without a legal course in obtaining custody.

The minor could be transferred from one place to another and the habeas corpus case will be left without legal remedy since family courts take cognizance only cases within their jurisdiction. A literal interpretation would render it meaningless, lead to absurdity, injustice, and contradiction.

The literal interpretation of “exclusive” will result in grave injustice and negate the policy to protect the rights and promote the welfare of children.


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