My live-in partner for seven years and I are planning to get married. Is it true that it is not necessary for us to apply for a marriage license?
As a rule, a marriage license shall be necessary before a marriage may be validly celebrated (Article 3, Family Code of the Philippines). However, there are instances when the requirement of a valid marriage license may be dispensed with. One of which is when the future spouses have already lived together as husband and wife for at least five years without any legal impediment to marry each other (Article 34, Family Code of the Philippines). In legal phraseology, this is called the ratification of marital cohabitation.
Nevertheless, not all couples who have been cohabiting as husband and wife for five years or more are qualified to the marriage license exemption. To be exempt, the requisites enumerated in the case of Herminia Borja-Manzano vs. Judge Roque Sanchez (A.M. No. MTJ-00-1329, March 08, 2001) must be complied with. These are the following: 1) the man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years before the marriage; 2) the parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other; 3) the fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time of marriage; 4) the parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five years [and are without legal impediment to marry each other]; and 5) the solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the qualifications of the parties and that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage.
If all the requisites are present in your case, you and your partner are no longer required to apply for a marriage license when you get married. However, if any of the aforementioned requisites is absent, a marriage license duly issued by the local civil registrar of the city or municipality where either of you habitually resides shall be necessary before you may be validly married (Article 9, Family Code of the Philippines). Once the marriage license is issued, it shall be valid in any part of the Philippines for a period of one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of issue. It shall be deemed automatically cancelled at the expiration of the said period if the contracting parties have not made of use of it (Article 20, Family Code of the Philippines).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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