Premarital lewdness not a ground to annul marriage

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I’d like to annul my marriage to my husband. I recently found out that he slept several times with several of my friends and even one of my cousins before we got married. Worse, he never told me about it even after we agreed not to keep secrets from each other.

Although all of that happened before our marriage, I admit that I still feel betrayed since I would not have married him had I known about his hideous sexual exploits he fraudulently kept from me. So, can I use this as a ground to annul our marriage since I’ve read that you can annul a marriage if there is a fraud committed? I hope you can advice me on this matter.
Sharon

Dear Sharon,
In order to properly advice you with regard to your question, it is important that we first clarify that not all kinds of fraud can be a ground for annulment. The Family Code sets out the specific kinds of fraud that can be used as a ground to annul a marriage, to wit:

“Art. 46. Any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud referred to in Number 3 of the preceding Article:


(1) Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;

(2) Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;

(3) Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or

(4) Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.

No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.”

Note that after the cited law enumerated the specific forms of fraud for purposes of annulment of marriage, it clearly stated that no other misrepresentation can be used as a ground for it. Thus, considering the exclusive wording of the law, any other fraudulent act not among those mentioned here, no matter how grave it may seem, cannot be invoked to annul a marriage.

Furthermore, the question of whether such pre-marital relationships can be used as a ground for annulment has already been discussed by the Supreme Court in one of its enlightening decisions where it explained that:

“Non-disclosure of a husband’s pre-marital relationship with another woman is not one of the enumerated circumstances that would constitute a ground for annulment; and it is further excluded by the last paragraph of the article, providing that “no other misrepresentation or deceit as to … chastity” shall give ground for an action to annul a marriage. While a woman may detest such non-disclosure of premarital lewdness or feel having been thereby cheated into giving her consent to the marriage, nevertheless the law does not assuage her grief after her consent was solemnly given, for upon marriage she entered into an institution in which society, and not herself alone, is interested” (Anaya vs. Palaroan, G.R. No. L-27930 November 26, 1970).

It can be seen here that while you may consider your husband’s non-disclosure of his pre-marital sexual relationship detestable and fraudulent, it still does not amount to fraud for purposes of annulling a marriage. As elaborated by jurisprudence, the law is clear and exclusive on what can be considered as fraud in relation to annulment of marriage. Thus, you cannot invoke your husband’s pre-marital activities to annul your marriage. Instead of lingering in the dark episodes of your husband’s past, focus on the present status of your marriage and on how both of you can improve your relationship.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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