Grounds to declare marriage void

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I married last July 7, 2011. I was 24 years old at that time, but I was not able to get parental advice from my parents. Also, we did not secure a marriage license. Instead, my wife and I executed an affidavit which states that we have been living together as husband and wife for five years. This is not true because we married less than one year after we met. Can I have my marriage annulled or declared void?

Dear Michael,
You mentioned two defects in your marriage. The first is lack of parental advice which is required by Article 15 of the Family Code for persons marrying between the ages of twenty-one (21) and twenty-five (25). However, its absence is not a valid cause to have your marriage annulled or declared void. Lack of parental advice is not mentioned in Article 45 of the Family Code which enumerates the grounds for annulment of marriage. Neither is parental advice an essential or formal requisite of marriage, whose absence renders the marriage void ab initio. The rule is settled that every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds (Sevilla vs. Cardenas, G.R. No. 167684, July 31, 2006). The annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage is only an exception to this rule allowed in certain instances specifically provided by law.

The second defect in your marriage concerns the falsity of the period of cohabitation stated in your affidavit of cohabitation. The general rule is that the future spouses are required to secure a marriage license before their marriage. Without a marriage license, which is a formal requisite of marriage, the marriage would be void. There are exceptions to this rule, one of which is found in Article 34 of the Family Code which states that no marriage license is necessary if the future spouses have lived together as husband and wife for at least five (5) 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.

It should be pointed out that under this exception, what exempts the future spouses from the requirement of securing a marriage license is not the execution of the affidavit of cohabitation, but rather, the fact of cohabitation for at least five (5) years without legal impediment to marry each other. Its purpose is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant’s name for a marriage license, which could discourage such persons from legitimizing their status (Niñal v. Bayadog, G.R. No. 133778, March 14, 2000 citing The Report of the Code Commission). The affidavit merely sets forth such fact, which if found false would only be a mere scrap of paper, without force and effect (Republic vs. Dayot, G.R. No. 175581, March 28, 2008).

You mentioned that you married your wife less than one (1) year after you met her. If this is true, then it is impossible to comply with the requirement of 5-year cohabitation. Therefore, the exception does not apply and you are required to secure a marriage license. Because there is none, your marriage is void ab initio. You may file a petition in court to have your marriage declared void.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. 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.


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1 Comment

  1. Dear PAO,
    I am in similar situation above. I was 22 and he was 36 when we got married October 28, 1988 after a month of meeting each other the first time, I’m from Mindanao and he is from Pampanga. Nobody in my family knew of my marriage then which noted a license number issued by LCR of Imus, Cavite of which I have never been and I have no know knowledge of securing one.
    In Novermber 1992 or after four years of being together with not a week that passes without verbal and physical abuse, I ran and hide for I was in constant fear I will be added to the statistics of crime of passion. I left my two daughters then 2 years old and the youngest 6 months old to the care of my father in Mindanao. I seek employment to support them. In 2006, immediately after the company I worked with in Makati closed and stopped its operation, I went home to where my daughters are and applied for annulment. After several hearings and paying acceptance fee to the lawyer, psychologist for the psychological incapacity evaluation, appearance fees every hearing and court activities, filing fees, etc., my petition was dismissed for lack of the 6 months residency requirement prior to filing of petition.
    Am I not a resident of my own hometown where my daughters reside and went to school? I was only in Makati living as bed spacer to earn a living and support my family. I receive no financial support from their father. It feels like I was a local OFW and my experience grieve me so much. Since 1992 up to present 2013, I’ve been a single parent, my daughters are doing great, but still I can’t believe our law uphold a family that is decades ago not existent. I missed opportunities of having a partner to grow old with because I am not legible to be married with my NSO registered fake marriage. I am happy being a Filipina except for this law which seems to be available only to the rich and famous. They easily get annulled and it add acid and salt to my injured heart every time I see annulment granted to the rich, the celebrities, and senators, and lawmakers. How about us who can’t afford to grease the court?