I want to file for the annulment of my marriage since my wife and I have been separated for 11 years now, and I am planning to open myself up again to the possibility of having a new relationship with someone whom I can grow old with. I just want to know if this is possible under our laws. Thank you and more power.
It is explicitly provided under our laws that a marriage may be annulled only on the following grounds, which must exist at the time of the marriage, to wit:
“(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;
(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
(3) That 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;
(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or
(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.” (Article 45, Family Code of the Philippines)
Taking the foregoing into consideration, we submit that the mere fact that you have been separated from your wife for 11 years now is not enough basis to have your marriage annulled. You must be able to anchor your desired petition on one of the causes aforementioned.
Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that there is a prescribed period for filing a petition for annulment of marriage in court and it may only be done by the persons specifically mentioned under the law. As stated under Article 47 of the Family Code, if the ground for the annulment of marriage is the lack of consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, such petition may only be filed by the party whose parent or guardian did not give consent, within five (5) years after attaining the age of 21, or by the parent or guardian or person having legal charge of the minor, at any time before such party has reached the age of 21. If the basis for the annulment is unsoundness of mind, the petition may only be filed by the spouse who had no knowledge of the other’s insanity, or by any relative or guardian or person having legal charge of the insane, at any time before the death of either party, or by the insane spouse during a lucid interval or after regaining sanity.
Should the petition be anchored on account of fraud, as mentioned under Article 46 of the same code, the same may only be filed by the injured party within five years after the discovery of such fraud. Should the annulment be based on vitiated consent of either party by reason of force, intimidation or undue influence, the petition may only be filed by the injured party within five years from the time such force, intimidation or undue influence disappeared or ceased. Lastly, if the petition is based on a spouse’s physical incapacity to consummate the marriage or existence of a sexually-transmissible disease, such may only be filed by the injured party within five years after the marriage.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org