I got married here in the Philippines to an American in 2009. We have a marriage license— it was immediately given to us a few days after we applied for it through the help of a city hall employee whom my husband paid. Nevertheless, my husband already obtained a divorce decree in the US. My questions are the following: 1) Is our marriage considered valid despite the irregularity in our marriage license? 2) What shall I do so I can remarry?
A valid marriage license is one of the formal requisites of marriage (Article 3, Family Code of the Philippines). The absence of a marriage license at the time of the celebration of marriage shall render the marriage void ab initio. On the other hand, an irregularity in the marriage license shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties responsible for it shall be subjected to civil, criminal and administrative liability (Article 4, Family Code of the Philippines). Hence, your marriage shall be considered valid since you have a marriage license at the time of celebration of your marriage. The hasty issuance of a marriage license is a mere irregularity which shall not affect the validity of the marriage license issued and the marriage itself.
Nevertheless, you may still have the capacity to contract another marriage, not because your marriage license was irregularly issued, but because your American husband had already obtained a divorce decree in the United States of America (USA). Paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides:
“Article 26. xxx
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.” (As amended by Executive Order 227)
However, the divorce decree which your American husband obtained in the USA shall not be automatically recognized in the Philippines because our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and judgment. Hence, it shall be necessary first for you to file a petition for recognition of judgment of divorce decree before our courts. You shall need to prove in this petition the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. You also need to show that the divorce decree which your husband obtained gave him the capacity to contract another marriage as specially required in Article 26 (Republic vs. Orbecido, GR No. 154380, October 05, 2005).
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.