I got married when I was just 20 years old to a guy twice my age. Since the marriage was celebrated in haste, no marriage license was secured because we made it appear that we were living together as husband and wife for more than five years. But the truth is we did not. The union did not succeed as we got separated two years later. Is this marriage valid? If not, can I enter into another marriage?
One of the formal requisites of a valid marriage is a marriage license duly issued by the Local Civil Registrar of the place where either or both of the contracting parties reside. A marriage celebrated without a marriage license is null and void, unless it falls within the exemptions provided by law, one of which is when the contracting parties cohabited for at least five (5) years prior to the celebration of marriage and that they do not have legal impediment to marry each other during their cohabitation. This is explicitly provided by Article 34 of the Family Code of the Philippines, 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 and found no legal impediment to the marriage.”
If we apply the foregoing provision to your situation, your marriage to your husband is null and void because you have no marriage license when the same was celebrated. The above-cited provision does not apply to your situation, since according to you, you did not cohabit with your husband prior to your marriage. In the same vein, even if we assume that you cohabited for five (5) years prior to the celebration of that marriage, it would appear then that you were just a minor when you started cohabiting with your husband, which is a legal impediment to marry. This will not qualify you to be exempted from obtaining a marriage license. Thus, your marriage to your husband that was celebrated without a marriage license is null and void.
Your marriage being null and void does not automatically qualify you to remarry. This is because according to Article 40 of the Family Code of the Philippines, a court decision declaring that marriage null and void is needed before you can remarry. It provides:
“Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org