I have been married to my husband for almost a decade now. At present, we are having problems, especially because I recently found out and confirmed that he was charged with a crime of rape although the charge against him was dismissed because of a settlement with the victim. This surprised me and made me angry because I was already hearing gossips about this before we got married. I confronted him before about this, and he told me and even assured me that there were no criminal cases filed against him.
I realized that he fooled me and lied to me about this. I read somewhere that fraud can be a ground to annul a marriage. Because of this I am seriously thinking about annulling our marriage and I want to verify if I can use this as a ground to annul our marriage. Please advise me about this.
It appears from your narration that you want to annul your marriage to your husband on the ground of his failure to disclose a criminal charge filed against him prior to your marriage. And this is because in your opinion, this is a fraudulent act that misled you to give your consent to marry him. Although you are correct that there is a law that includes fraud as a ground to annul a marriage, not all kinds of fraud can be used as a legal ground for this.
Article 46 of the Family Code of the Philippines enumerates the specific kinds of fraud that can be used as a ground to annul a marriage, to wit:
“Art. 46. Any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud referred to in Number 3 of the preceding article:
(1) Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;
(2) Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;
(3) Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or
(4) Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.
No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.” (Emphasis supplied)
Considering the cited provision, non-disclosure of criminal charge is not among those that can be considered as a fraud for purposes of annulling a marriage. The nearest kind of fraud related to your concern is the non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude. This is not applicable to your situation, because this ground requires a final judgment by a court. Since your husband was merely criminally charged and there was no final judgment as to his case, his non-disclosure of this fact does not qualify as a fraud that may be used to annul your marriage.
It is important to note that the above-cited list is exclusive. The law clearly states that no other misrepresentation can be used as a ground for annulment. Considering the exclusive wording of the law, any other fraudulent act not mentioned here, no matter how grave it may seem, cannot be invoked to annul a marriage. So while you may consider your husband’s non-disclosure of a criminal charge against him to be detestable and fraudulent, it still does not amount to fraud for purposes of annulling a marriage.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org