Case 529-2006

Corte de Apelaciones [C. Apel.][Court of Appeals], 20 junio 2006, Rol de causa: 529-2006, divorcio (Chile).
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Country: Chile
Region: Americas
Year: 2006
Court: Court of Appeals (Rancagua)
Health Topics: Aging, Chronic and noncommunicable diseases
Human Rights: Right to family life, Right to work
Tags: Aged persons, Cancer, Compensation, Elderly, Non-communicable diseases, Older persons, Senior citizens

Plaintiff, a 61-year old woman afflicted with colon cancer, filed a counterclaim to her husband’s divorce petition, seeking compensation. The Trial judge had considered compensation for divorce a matter of welfare and had thus provided for a very small amount of reparation damages, taking into consideration only the plaintiff’s immediate needs and the defendant’s economic capacity.  Plaintiff therefore appealed to have the compensation increased.

The Court of Appeals held damages for divorce were of compensatory nature and therefore had to take into account, inter alia, the time devoted by the plaintiff to the household and and to their children's upbringing, against the lost chance of pursuing a more lucrative career. The Court also took into account the fact that the plaintiff was afflicted with colon cancer and that it would be difficult for her to access the labor market, given her advanced age.

"1) [...] no es efectivo como lo sostenía la juez del grado- que tenga un carácter asistencial, sino que con toda evidencia el objetivo por el legislador es de un contenido netamente indemnizatorio, por lo que no son los factores de indigencia y dignidad los que deben ser resguardados, sino aquellos establecidos en el artículo 62 de la citada Ley, y que son: a) duración del matrimonio y de la vida en común; b) situación patrimonial de ambos; c) buena o mala fe; d) edad y estado de salud del cónyuge beneficiario; e) situación de éste en materia de beneficios provisionales y de salud; f) cualificación profesional y posibilidades de acceso al mercado laboral; y g) colaboración prestada a las actividades lucrativas del otro cónyuge(...)"

" In this regards, the indigence and the dignity factors shall not be taken into account, but those set out in Article 62 of the Act, which are: a) duration of the marriage and of the life together; b) balance sheets of both; c) good or bad faith; d) age and health status of the recipient spouse; e) situation of the recipient spouse in interim profit and health; f) professional qualifications and chances of accessing the labor market; and g) collaboration in the employment of the other spouse . . ."

"2) Que la juez del grado rebatió la procedencia de la antedicha compensación, cifrada en que no se habría acreditado el referido menoscabo económico, porque durante la vigencia del matrimonio en cuestión habría podido estudiar una carrera técnica y contar con ingresos propios que le habrían ayudado a solventar sus gastos. Sin embargo, el estudio de una carrera técnica menor y hasta el procurarse ciertos aportes económicos a través de ellos que en la especie no se han determinado en su cantidad e importancia- en nada refutan los presupuestos fácticos esenciales del beneficio en referencia si, como sucede en la especie, no resulta discutido que la mujer se dedicó efectiva y principalmente al cuidado de los hijos (que en este caso, todavía, ni siquiera eran comunes) y que ello le impidió al menos en una medida inferior- desarrollar una actividad lucrativa a tiempo completo, que le hubiese permitido mirar con mayor tranquilidad su futuro sustentable."

"2) The previous judge contested the validity of the compensation, claiming that the fiscal impairment was not duly proved, because during the term of the marriage in question the spouse would have been able to study a technical career and have their own income which would have helped cover their expenses. However, the study of a minor technical career and to procure certain economic contributions through them, do not contest the essential factual circumstances referring to the profit because it is not disputed that the woman was devoted mainly and effectively to the care of the children (who, in this case were not even common with her husband) and that had prevented, at least at some point, to engage full time in the development of a lucrative activity, which would have allowed her to look more peacefully to a sustainable future."

"3) Al efecto, no resulta debatido que la duración efectiva del matrimonio alcanzó a 16 años; que la actora reconvencional mantuvo durante su latencia y también posteriormente, un claro y profundo compromiso efectivo, como lo delata la dedicación empleada en la atención de los hijos de su cónyuge; que el demandado reconvencional ha podido sufragar sin problemas una pensión alimenticia de $139.234 (fs.39); que la mujer sufre de un cáncer de cólon (certificado inobjetado de fs. 28). Un elemento de juicio poderoso en el caso sub lite es la edad de la mujer al momento de la disolución del vínculo matrimonial, 61 años, que obviamente le dificultan el acceso al mercado laboral femenino."

"3) Taking the above mentioned into account, it now is important to determine if thecompensation is in accordance to the criteria referred to in Article 62 of the Marriage Law. To this effect, it is not discussed (i) that the actual duration of marriage reached 16 years; (ii) that the counterclaim plaintiff maintained for its latency and subsequently a clear and deep commitment, as it can be derived from the dedication revealed in the care of the children of his spouse; (iii) that the counterclaim defendant has been able to meet seamlessly alimony of $ 139,234(Fs.39); (iv) that the woman is suffering from colon cancer. A powerful element of judgment in the case sub lite is the age of the woman at the time of the dissolution of the marriage, 61 years old, which obviously would hinder access to female labor market."

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