Marriage entered for the purpose of acquiring citizenship is valid

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I married an American citizen in 2010 in a simple ceremony solemnized by a mayor in Metro Manila. Our real intention in contracting such marriage was merely for convenience, because it would help me in my petition for citizenship in her country. I paid her $3,000.00 for such arrangement. I must admit that I was not successful in my application for citizenship in her country; hence, I returned to the Philippines.

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At present, I am living with someone whom I intend to marry; however, I knew that my marriage with my alien wife will be a hindrance. Can I file a case for annulment or declaration of nullity of my marriage since the said marriage was merely contracted for the purpose of acquiring citizenship?
Andy

Dear Andy,
The marriage you contracted is valid as long as the essential and formal requisites of marriage are present. The essential requisites of marriage are found under Article 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines, to wit:

“1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male or female; and

2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.”

The formal requisites under Article 3 of the same law are as follows:

“1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and

3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the
solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.”

In the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Albios(G.R. No. 198780, October 16, 2013), the Supreme Court through the Honorable Associate Justice Jose C. Mendoza ruled that:

“The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the couple to establish a conjugal and family life. The possibility that the parties in a marriage might have no real intention to establish a life together is, however, insufficient to nullify a marriage freely entered into in accordance with law. The same Article 1 provides that the nature, consequences, and incidents of marriageare governed by law and not subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared void or voidable under the grounds provided by law. 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. Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, it shall be declared valid.

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and cannot dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate their lifestyle would go into the realm of their right to privacy and would raise serious constitutional questions. The right to marital privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to live together or live apart, to have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so on. Thus, 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.” (Emphasis supplied)

Applying the said decision in your situation, the marriage you contracted is valid regardless of the intention of the contracting parties. Marriage for convenience is not one of the grounds provided by the Family Code of the Philippines to annul or declare your marriage as null and void.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on this matter, but we reiterate that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when facts are changed or further elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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