My wife and I have been separated for a couple of years now, though not legally. Admittedly, I entered in a relationship with another woman who I work with. We decided to get married because I got her pregnant. When my wife learned about this, she started threatening me that she will file a case against me for concubinage and bigamy. Is it really possible for her to file both cases against me considering that we live separately already? Please advise.
Bigamy and concubinage are just two of the many crimes punishable under our Revised Penal Code. As explicitly provided for under Article 349 of the said Code: “The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.”
In the situation that you presented before us, we believe that your wife can lawfully pursue a criminal complaint for bigamy against you because, as you have admitted, you have contracted a second marriage with another woman without having your first marriage with her legally dissolved. If it has been established by proof beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the said crime, you will suffer the penalty imposed by our law.
We wish to emphasize that the fact that you and your wife have been living separately for years will not justify the actuality of you having entered into a second marriage. Please remember that a married individual is prohibited from having a second marriage so long as he or she remains married with his or her legal spouse.
Insofar as the filing of a criminal complaint for concubinage, your wife may pursue the same provided she can clearly establish that, prior to the celebration of your second marriage and within the prescriptive period provided under the law, you either: kept a mistress in your conjugal dwelling; or had sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with another woman; or cohabit with another woman in any other place (Article 334, Revised Penal Code). The penalty that may be imposed upon you for this crime is prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, while the penalty of destierro may be imposed upon your concubine. (id)
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed 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 email@example.com