Brown-Araneta vs. Araneta

Facts

Juan and Michelle were married and had 2 minor children. They separated and the children remained in Michelle’s custody. Juan filed for a Petition for Custody of his children with prayer for visitation rights with the Makati (RTC) against Michelle and her mother Glenda, claiming that they barred him from seeing them despite repeated requests.

Michelle filed with RTC Makati an Affirmative Defense, among others, on the ground of improper service. RTC granted Juan’s petition. Then, Michelle interposed (placed between two things) to withdraw the motion for Protection Order ex parte from RTC Makati. She then filed a Petition for Temporary and Permanent Protection Order before the RTC Muntinlupa (but she informed the court that there is a pending similar case). RTC Muntinlupa granted Michelle’s prayer for TPO. Juan filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that Michelle’s prayer constitutes forum shopping. RTC Muntinlupa conceded, and excluded the ordered covered by RTC Makati.

Before the CA:

Michelle went to CA. CA partly favored Michelle and decided that RTC Makati erred in not admitting her answer. Juan also went to CA praying to enjoin RTC Muntinlupa from taking further cognizance of the case because it will intrude RTC Makati’s disposition of the case. Michelle opposied on the ground that it is a prohibited pleading under RA 9262. (VAWC). CA found Michelle guilty of forum shipping but also ruled that Juan’s petition for certiorari is a prohibited pleading. Hence dismissed Juan’s petition. Nevertheless, it favored Juan by declaring the issuance of RTC Muntinlupa as void.

Issue

Was Michelle Brown-Araneta guilty of forum-shopping?

Ruling

Yes.

(1) Even though Michelle withdrew the protection order from the Makati Court, she only did it after it was denied by the court.

Test to Determine Forum Shopping

  • Existence of the elements of litis pendentia
  • The judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another

Ratio decidendi: To avoid the evil of confusion when two competent courts render separate and contradictory decisions.

(2) In the CA, her posture that “all issuances of the RTC of Makati were void for lack of jurisdiction over Michelle” was meant to deceive and mislead the court. (this appears as an untruthful statement submitted to RTC Muntinlupa which led the court to take cognizance of the case)

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