• Annulment of marriage does not void children’s legitimate status

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I was born a year after my parents got married. Unfortunately, they separated, and now my father is in the process of nullifying their marriage. He claims that my mother is psychologically incapacitated.

    I just want to know what my status will be as their child assuming my father’s petition would be granted by the court. I hope you can advise me. I have been planning to ask my parents about this, but their hostility to each other somehow represses me to open up to either of them. Thank you and more power.

    Dear Pia16,
    There are several grounds for the nullification of a contract of marriage. One of which is the psychological incapacity of one or both of the parties to the marriage. As provided for under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines: “A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”

    As can be gleaned from the foregoing provision of the law, the psychological incapacity of one or both of the parties must be in existence at the time of the celebration of the marriage, although it may have only become manifest thereafter. Nevertheless, in order for a party’s psychological incapacity to be considered a basis for the nullity of a marriage, it is essential for the petitioner to prove these three crucial elements: gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability. According to the Supreme Court: “x x x The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. x x x” (Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20).

    Should the court grant the petition, the marriage which is the subject thereof will be considered void ab initio or void from the very beginning. It is as if no contract of marriage transpired between the parties thereof. Nevertheless, it bears stressing that children born before the rendition of such judgment has become final and executory will retain their status as legitimate children. This is explicitly provided for under Article 54, Id.: “Children conceived or born before the judgment of annulment or absolute nullity of the marriage under Article 36 has become final and executory shall be considered legitimate. x x x”

    For that reason, your status will remain to be that of a legitimate child considering that you were born during the subsistence of your parents’ marriage and prior to the nullity thereof, this is assuming that your father’s petition is granted by the court.

    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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    1. Hopingsomeday on

      Dear atty. Acosta,

      I just want a legal advise. I have been separated since 2007 without communication at all and my child got no support from his father since our separation. Is my marriage still valid? If not, what are the step by step procedure to nullify my marriage?

    2. Angel De Leon on

      Dear Atty Acosta,

      I understand that it is the way it is written in the constitution but it really does not make any sense. An annulled marriage “is as if no contract of marriage transpired between the parties”. How can something that does not exist produce something (i.e. legitimate children)? If it was divorce then it makes sense because the children were born during the time that their parents were married.