I got married in 2010 to a South Korean. I met my wife through a common friend. I was working in South Korea at the time and had just ended a long-time relationship with my then girlfriend who is from my hometown in Cabanatuan City (Nueva Ecija). We decided to get married so that I may be able to permanently stay in South Korea. So, after a year of working there, I brought her to Manila, and we got married before a judge. It was a simple wedding but was attended by our close relatives and friends. She went back to South Korea two months after we got married, and I just followed her a month thereafter. Unfortunately, we ended up living apart. My work there also ended, so I came back here in 2015.
I have been thinking of filing for annulment since I want to be free from our marriage and, hopefully, be able to marry again. Is it possible for the court to grant our annulment considering that I only married her to ensure my stay in South Korea and not really because we were in love or anything like that? Please advise me on this matter.
A marriage is a valid and binding contract between the parties thereof provided that all the essential and formal requisites under the law are present, to wit: (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; (2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer; (3) Authority of the solemnizing officer; (4) A valid marriage license, except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and (5) 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 no fewer than two witnesses of legal age.
From the facts that you have shared with us, there seems to be no concern as to the existence of the requisites of a valid marriage except, perhaps, as to the requisite of consent. This is in view of the fact that, as you have mentioned, you and your wife merely agreed to enter into the marriage for the purpose of securing your residency in South Korea. Now, whether such arrangement can invalidate a marriage, vis-a-vis serve as a basis for annulment of your marriage, we believe it cannot.
First and foremost, Article 2 of our Family Code purely requires that the consent of the parties to the marriage be “freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer,” that is, you unreservedly accepted each other before the solemnizing officer, and that there was no cause, which vitiated your consent to the marriage such as unsoundness of mind, or employment of fraud, force, intimidation or undue influence to obtain the consent of either party. (Article 45, Id.)
In your letter, there was no mention that you or your wife is of unsound mind. There is also no showing that fraud, force, intimidation or undue influence was employed to secure your consent to the marriage. We take note of the fact that you entered into the marriage not because of love, which is the ideal foundation of marriage, but for residency purposes. Nonetheless, such is not enough to annul your marriage.
As explained by our Supreme Court in the case of Republic vs. Albios (G.R. No. 198780, October 16, 2013; ponente, Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza) :
“x x x
A “freely given” consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation and undue influence. Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial or unfavorable consequences of their act. Their understanding should not be affected by insanity, intoxication, drugs or hypnotism.
x x x
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. x x x 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.
x x x
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. x x x 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. x x x” (emphasis supplied)
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