• Marriage without license is void

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I married my husband without securing a marriage license. My sister-in-law who fixed the requirements for our marriage indicated that we lived together as husband and wife for five years but, in truth and in fact, we never lived together before our marriage. We were married in April 1995 under a civil ceremony and later again, in the church in December 1995.

    I know that we do not have a marriage license when we first got married and that it makes our marriage void. My concern is, did our marriage become valid by the celebration of our second marriage in church?    

    Dear Marilou,
    A marriage license obtained before a marriage ceremony is one of the formal requirements of a valid marriage pursuant to Article 3 of the Family Code, to wit:

    The formal requisites of marriage are:

    (1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

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

    (3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing office 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.

    Nevertheless, as also stated above, a marriage may become valid in the absence of a marriage license if their marriage falls under one of the cases provided for in Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code. Accordingly, a marriage at the point of death (articulo mortis) of either or both of the spouses is valid even without securing first a marriage license. (Article 27, Ibid.) Marriage is also valid without a marriage license if the residence of either party is so located that there is no means of transportation to enable such party to appear personally before the local civil registrar. (Article 28, Id.) Marriage between Muslims or members in the ethnic cultural communities may likewise be performed without the necessity of a marriage license, provided that they are solemnized in accordance with their customs, rites or practices. (Article 33, Id.) Article 34 of the said code similarly states that 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 legal impediment to marry each other.

    Based from the foregoing, your first marriage in April 1995 may not be valid because of lack of a marriage license since it was declared during the ceremony that you and your husband have lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage for five years when, in truth and in fact, you have never lived together before your marriage. The subsequent church wedding in December 1995 will not cure the defect of your previous marriage, because the fact remains that your marriage was solemnized without obtaining the necessary marriage license, unless, of course, you have already secured the needed marriage license before the said church wedding.

    We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net


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