I was only 17 years old when I was married, but this was with the consent of my parents. However, my husband and I separated one year after our marriage. Can I file a petition for the declaration of nullity of my marriage?
You did not mention in your query the year when you contracted your marriage. Such information is necessary because the age when a person may validly contract a marriage differs, depending upon the law which is in effect at the time when the marriage was contracted.
Before the Family Code of the Philippines took effect on August 3, 1988 (Memorandum Circular No. 85), any male aged 16 or upwards, and any female of the age of 14 or upwards, not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 80 to 84 of the Civil Code, may contract marriage (Article 54, Civil Code of the Philippines). If the male is less than 20 years old and the female is less than 18 years old, they shall be required to obtain the consent to their marriage of their father, mother or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them, in the order mentioned (Article 61, Ibid.).
When the Family Code of the Philippines took effect, the marrying age of both the parties to a marriage was fixed at eighteen (18) years old (Article 5, Family Code of the Philippines). In case either or both parties are between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21), they shall, in addition to the requirements of marriage, secure the consent to their marriage of their father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them, in the order mentioned (Article 14, Ibid.).
Based on the foregoing, if you were married before the effectivity of the Family Code, your marriage is valid even if you are only 17 years old because your parents have consented to your marriage. On the other hand, if you were married after the Family Code of the Philippines took effect, your marriage shall be considered as null and void because of your lack of legal capacity to contract marriage, notwithstanding the consent of your parents to your marriage. In such case, you may file a petition for the declaration of nullity of your marriage before the Family Court of the place where you have been residing.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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 firstname.lastname@example.org