Can a marriage which was celebrated through fraud on the part of the husband be annulled? What shall happen to the children? Will their status be changed to illegitimate?
Dear Confused Wife,
Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines enumerates the instances when a marriage may be annulled. One of which is when the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. However, not all kinds of fraud or deception may be considered as a ground for annulment. Only the following are considered sufficient grounds to warrant the termination of the validity of the marriage: 1) Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; 2) Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; 3) Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or 4) 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 as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage (Article 46, Family Code of the Philippines).
If any of the foregoing is present in your case, you may file a petition for annulment of your marriage within five years after you have discovered the fraud (Article 47, Family Code of the Philippines). This petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where you or your husband has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in case your husband is a non-resident, where he may be found in the Philippines, at your election (Section 4, Rule on Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Annulment).
If the court grants your petition, your marriage bond will be severed and your property relations will be terminated. Since marriages through fraud are considered voidable or valid until annulled, your children, who were born before its annulment, shall not change their status and shall remain to be legitimate (Article 54, Family Code of the Philippines).
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.