My husband was a member of one of the law enforcement agencies in Mindanao, and I used to be an OFW in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, my husband died in a law enforcement operation last year, so I had to go home to take care of our two children. When I tried to claim the benefits of my husband from his unit, I was surprised when their office said that I am not the legal beneficiary. They told me that this was because our marriage was already annulled based on a decision rendered by a certain court in Mindanao, and this fact was reflected in our marriage contract submitted by my husband.
I also found out that he was married to another woman. Upon further inquiry, I discovered that the court which allegedly rendered the decision did not have any record pertaining to the annulment filed by my husband. The court issued a certification that the annulment case does not exist on record. What shall I do in order to remove the annotation in my marriage contract that my marriage is annulled?
A decision which does not exist in the record of the court which allegedly rendered the same is a mere scrap of paper. A case which does not exist in the court’s record means that the same did not undergo the usual procedure for hearing or disposition of a case such as:
1) Petitions were filed;
(2) Docket fees were paid;
(3) The parties were notified of hearings;
4) Hearings were calendared and actually held;
(5) Stenographic notes of the proceedings were taken; and
(6) The cases were submitted for decision (Office of the Court Administrator vs. Judge Indar, A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232, April 10, 2012).
Since the decision which does not exist on court record had been recorded in the local civil register, the entry
can be cancelled by means of appropriate petition in court. Section 1, Rule 108 of the 1997 Rules of Court, states that:
“Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Court of First Instance of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located”.
Correlative thereto, Section 2 of the said law also states that “upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgements of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss, recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.”
The certificate issued by the court stating that the said case does not exist on record will support your petition for cancellation/nullification of entries.
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