My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost a decade already. He recently found out that his wife whom he had not seen for a long time died just this year. Because of this, we are now planning to get married. Although I was informed that there is a need to obtain a marriage license before we can get married, I am wondering if we still need a marriage license since I was also told that we no longer need it because we’ve been living together for so long. I hope you can clarify this matter. Thank you.
A valid marriage license is one of the formal requisites required by law for a valid marriage (Article 3, Family Code of the Philippines). Although the law (Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code) provides for certain instances where there can be a valid marriage in the absence of a marriage license, the ground you mentioned, which is the length of time that you have been living with your boyfriend, is not an absolute exception to the requirement of a valid marriage license.
To clarify this matter, the law states that: “Art. 34. No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage” (Ibid).
As mentioned from this cited provision, in order to forego with the requirement of a marriage license, a couple should have no legal impediment to marry each other at the time that they have been living together for at least five years.
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that you and your boyfriend cannot avail of the benefits of the said provision because of the existence of a legal impediment for your marriage to your partner. While you were living together with your boyfriend as husband and wife, his wife was still alive until her recent demise.
The fact that your boyfriend was still married to his wife who was still alive then, is a clear legal impediment that prevents him from marrying you. Because of this, you cannot validly get married without obtaining a valid marriage license.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org