Erroneous spelling in marriage certificate cannot invalidate marriage

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I would like to inquire whether my marriage to my wife is valid considering that there is a discrepancy in our marriage certificate. My wife’s name is “Mary Ann” but her name is recorded in our marriage certificate as “May Ann”. To my knowledge, she has not noticed this error yet and I would like to use this as a ground to invalidate my marriage with her if it is possible. I hope your office can give me an advice. More power and God bless!
Rap-rap

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Dear Rap-rap,
An error in the spelling of your wife’s name in your marriage certificate cannot and will not invalidate your marriage. The validity of a marriage is not dependent on the mere error on the spelling of the names of the parties in a marriage contract. The validity of a marriage is primarily based on specific legal requirements set by law. These requirements are called the essential and formal requisites of marriage. The absence of any of these requirements may result to a void ab intio marriage (Article 4, Family Code of the Philippines).

For your reference, the following are the essential and formal requisites of marriage as stated in the Family Code of the Philippines:

“Art. 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and

(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. (53a)
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age. (53a, 55a)”
In addition to these requisites, the law also provides other bases for a possible declaration of nullity of marriage which are found in Articles 35, 36, 37, 38, 45 and 53 of the Family Code of the Philippines, none of which however mentions typographical errors as a ground for nullification of marriage. Thus, please be reminded that while you may confirm if the other grounds for nullity of marriage apply to your case, the said error in the spelling of your wife’s name has no effect on the validity of your marriage.

Lastly, since the error in the spelling of your wife’s name in your marriage certificate is obvious to the understanding and can be corrected by reference to other existing records, it is considered to be merely a clerical error which can be remedied by filing a petition for correction of entry before the local civil registry office where your marriage certificate was registered.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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