• Annulling a marriage marred by fraud

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    Is it possible to invalidate a marriage if the wife’s consent was obtained by some fraud done by the husband?

    Dear Ethel,
    Saying “I do” is an important part of wedding ceremonies. More than just being ceremonial, such declaration is of utmost importance as it signifies that the parties to the marriage have given their respective consents to be bound to each other as husband and wife.

    As required under our laws, consents of the parties must be freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer (Article 2, Family Code of the Philippines). The Supreme Court emphasized that “x x x “freely given” consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation and undue influence. Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial or unfavorable consequences of their act. x x x” (Republic vs. Albios, G.R. No. 198780, October 16, 2013, ponente, Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza).

    If the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, such marriage may be invalidated by our courts, provided that such fraud existed at the time of the marriage and that the innocent party, after having full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, did not freely cohabit with the other (Article 45 (3), Family Code).

    It, however, bears stressing that the fraud mentioned under the law refers only to the suppression or concealment of the specific circumstances mentioned under Article 46 of the law, to wit: (1) A party’s non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude; (2) A wife’s concealment of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;

    (3) A party’s concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or (4) A party’s concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage. No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud will give ground for action for the annulment of marriage. (Ibid.)
    We wish to remind you that the action for annulment of marriage on account of fraud must be filed by the injured party within five (5) years after the discovery of the fraud. (Article 47, Id.)

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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