My wife who is in Australia is planning to file an annulment here in the Philippines so she could marry her Australian boyfriend.She said the case is strong because we didn’t have a marriage license when we got married. Even so, we were already living together before our marriage and we got married when she was about to leave for Australia. The only problem is that we started living together when she was only 16 years old. Is there a chance for our marriage to be annulled?
A marriage license secured prior to a marriage is one of the formal requisites for a valid marriage (Article 3, Family Code). However, not all marriages without marriage license are void as there are marriages provided under the Family Code that are considered valid even without a marriage license. These are: (1) marriages contracted at the point of death (articulo mortis) (Article 27); (2) marriages where the residence of either of the parties is so located that there is no means of transportation to enable such party to personally appear before the local civil registrar (Article 28); (3) marriages among Muslims or among members of the ethnic cultural communities solemnized in accordance with their customs, rites and practices (Article 33); (4) marriages where the spouses have lived together as husband and wife prior to marriage for at least five years (Article 34).
Based from the foregoing, the lack of a marriage license in your wedding does not necessarily mean that your marriage is not valid since you stated that you lived together as husband and wife prior to marriage.As stated under Article 34 of the Family Code, spouses are exempted from securing marriage license before the marriage ceremony if they have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years prior to marriage. However, for this provision of law to benefit the spouses, there should be no existing legal impediment to marry each other during their cohabitation.According to you, you started living together with your wife when she was merely 16 years old. At that time there was a legal impediment preventing your wife from getting married because she had not yet reached the age of majority or 18 years. Hence, if you got married after five years of living together, your marriage is not one of those that is valid without marriage license because it would appear that the first two years of cohabitation could not be counted among the five years required by Article 34 of the Family Code since she could not marry you until she reached 18 years old. On the other hand, your marriage may still be valid without a marriage license and even if you started living together when your wife was 16 only if you have continued to live together for at least five more years after her 18th birthday.
Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are elaborated therein.
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