I met my husband online, through a friend. After several months, he decided to come here and see me. Although I was not in love with him, I decided to marry him because of his promise to take me with him when he goes back to Australia. We got married in 2009 at the City Hall of our province. It was only a simple affair that was attended only by my close family. He stayed here in the Philippines with me for two months after our matrimony and had to go back to Australia for work.
We continued communicating with each other but ended up going our separate ways. I never got the chance to be with him in Australia like he promised. Now, I just want our marriage to be nullified. Anyway, I never really consented to the wedding if it were not for his promise to take me to Australia. Please advise me on this matter.
Consent of the parties is one of the essential requisites to a valid marriage. It must be freely given by the parties in the presence of the solemnizing officer. The absence of this requisite renders the marriage void ab initio, while a defect renders the marriage voidable (Articles 2, 3 and 4, Family Code of the Philippines).
In your letter, you mentioned that you married your husband before the City Hall of your province in 2009, several months after the two (2) of you met online. You cohabited for two (2) months here in the Philippines, and kept your communication open even after he went back to Australia. Taking these into consideration, it is safe for us to conclude that, within legal parlance, you gave your consent to be lawfully bound with him as his wife, and that you entered into a valid contract of marriage. The fact that you presented yourself before the solemnizing officer is indicative of your desire to be bound with your husband, and it negates your claim of absence of consent as required by law in nullification of marriage. It cannot be even said that your marriage may be annulled, because we fail to see that your consent was vitiated by fraud, force, intimidation or undue influence.
While we note your claim that it is not primarily love, rather the possibility of migration to Australia, which motivated you in marrying him, such cannot be used as a basis to nullify your marriage. Intention to marry other than by reason of love can never be equated to lack of consent to the marriage. The Supreme Court has explained that there is no law that declares a marriage void if it is entered into for purposes other than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of foreign citizenship or, in this case, the possible migration to a foreign country. As long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are present, and they are not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, they shall be declared valid. The High Court, through Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, expounded: “x x x marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience, companionship, money, status and title, provided that they comply with all the legal requisites, are equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support a marriage. x x x” (Republic vs. Albios, G.R. No. 198780, October 16, 2013).
If, however, there are any other bases for you to seek the nullification of your marriage consistent with Articles 35, 36, 37 and 38 of our Family Code, or the annulment thereof pursuant to Article 45 of the law, then that is the only time when you may file a petition in court.
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.
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.