• Premature marriage now decriminalized

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am a 41-year-old widow who is planning to remarry seven months after the death of my husband sometime this year. We have no children and I have been living alone. That is why I decided to find someone again who I can be with and spend the rest of my life with. My current fiancé was an old acquaintance of mine. After a few months of serious talk, we decided to get married soon before he leaves for abroad this year. But a close friend of mine, who is also a widow, warned me that based on her own experience as a widow who remarried, I cannot remarry within one year from the time of my husband’s death since there is a law which makes it illegal. Is there truth to this? What is this law about? Please advise me, so I can confirm if I can remarry soon without violating any law. Thank you!
    Alma

    Dear Alma,
    The advice given to you by your close friend is incorrect. While it is true that there was a law before that prohibits premature marriage, this law was already repealed by a new law. The law that your close friend refers to is Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:

    “Art. 351. Premature marriages. Any widow who shall marry within three hundred and one days from the date of the death of her husband, or before having delivered if she shall have been pregnant at the time of his death, shall be punished by arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos.

    The same penalties shall be imposed upon any woman whose marriage shall have been annulled or dissolved, if she shall marry before her delivery or before the expiration of the period of three hundred and one days after the legal separation.”

    Based on this law, a widow must wait until after the lapse of three hundred and one (301) days from the death of her husband before she can legally remarry. Otherwise, she will be criminally liable for premature marriage. Aside from the fact, however, that the law requires the lapse of only three hundred and one (301) days, not one year as your friend mentioned, it is important to note that a new law has already repealed this cited law against premature marriage.

    Republic Act 10655, which was signed into law on March 13, 2015, expressly repeals the law against premature marriages. And as stated by this law:

    SECTION 1. Without prejudice to the provisions of the Family Code on paternity and filiation, Article 351 of Republic Act 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, punishing the crime of premature marriage committed by a woman, is hereby repealed.”

    Because of this new law, premature marriage is now decriminalized. A woman no longer has to wait for the lapse of a required period of time before she can legally remarry. As such, you need not worry about violating any law with regard to your intention to remarry soon since you may now enter into a new marriage regardless of the period of death of your previous husband.

    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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