• Marriage null and void because of lack of license

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am 26 years old, married for seven months and just right after my marriage, I found out that my husband was having an affair with another woman. Although I am not affected by the infidelity of my husband, I just want to know how to get out of this marriage the soonest possible time. My husband and I were married because I was pregnant. To expedite the marriage, we made it appear that we lived together for five years, thus we were exempted from the marriage license requirement. Is the marriage valid?
    Eiram

    Dear Eiram,
    According to the Family Code of the Philippines, one of the requisites of a valid marriage is a valid marriage license, secured by the contracting parties prior to their marriage. Unless exempted, the absence of a valid marriage license during the celebration of the marriage renders the same null and void (Article 4, Family Code of the Philippines).

    A couple desiring to marry each other is presumed to have no legal impediment to marry once a marriage license is issued in their favor. This is the very document that demonstrates that the parties to whom the same was issued are eligible to marry.

    A marriage license, once issued, is valid anywhere in the Philippines within 120 days from the issuance thereof. (Article 20, Id.)

    It is explicit under the Family Code of the Philippines, however, that a marriage license can be dispensed with such as when the contracting parties have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years without legal impediment to marry. This is according to Article 34 thereof, to wit:

    “Art. 34. No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties are found no legal impediment to the marriage.”

    Since as you mentioned in your letter, there was really no cohabitation that took place between you and your husband, it appears then that you were not exempted from the required marriage license. As such, once the same is proved in court, your marriage shall be declared null and void.

    This was expounded by the Supreme Court in the case of Reinel Anthony B. De Castro vs Annabelle Assidao-De Castro (GR No. 160172, February 13, 2008, Ponente, the former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Dante Tinga), to wit:

    “Under the Family Code, the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, whereas a defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable. In the instant case, it is clear from the evidence presented that petitioner and respondent did not have a marriage license when they contracted their marriage. Instead, they presented an affidavit stating that they had been living together for more than five years. However, respondent herself in effect admitted the falsity of the affidavit when she was asked during cross-examination xxxx

    The falsity of the affidavit cannot be considered as a mere irregularity in the formal requisites of marriage. The law dispenses with the marriage license requirement for a man and a woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. The aim of this provision is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant’s name for a marriage license. In the instant case, there was no “scandalous cohabitation” to protect; in fact, there was no cohabitation at all. The false affidavit which petitioner and respondent executed so they could push through with the marriage has no value whatsoever; it is a mere scrap of paper. They were not exempt from the marriage license requirement. Their failure to obtain and present a marriage license renders their marriage void ab initio.”

    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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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