Please help us with our family problem. My 16-year-old sister fell in love with this very charming man who apparently promised her the moon. Soon after, she ran away with this man. This was such a scandal in our town that my parents were able to force them into marriage. Shortly after getting married, her husband left her for another woman.
She is now 26 years old and wants to remarry. Can she now annul her marriage, since they have been living apart for almost 10 years? Thank you!
Dear Jane A.,
According to you, your sister was married when she was only sixteen (16) years old. Your sister’s marriage falls under marriages void from the beginning under Article 35 of the Family Code. According to Article 35(1), marriages contracted by any party below eighteen (18) years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians shall be void from the beginning. A void marriage means that it was never a valid marriage.
The law considers a minor, such as a sixteen (16)-year-old, to be without legal capacity (Sempio-Diy, Alicia V., Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 2006, p. 40). The essential requisites of a valid marriage are legal capacity and consent. The absence of either of the essential requisites will render a marriage void. Nothing can ratify their marriage unless they choose to remarry when all the essential requisites are present. It is also irrelevant whether they have been separated in fact for almost ten (10) years.
In order to remarry, your sister must first seek a judicial declaration that her first marriage was void (Article 40, Family Code). This may be done by filing a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage in court. Since her marriage is void from the beginning, she can still seek a judicial declaration of her void marriage. The action for judicial declaration does not expire, because it was never valid anyway and one is only seeking a formal declaration from the courts.
We hope that we have answered your queries. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.
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