I found out recently that my husband married another woman. What case can I file against him? We have been separated for many years already. He said I can’t do anything anymore since we’re already separated.
You did not say whether the status of your separation is a legal separation or just a separation in-fact. Legal separation means that your separation underwent the process of seeking a declaration of legal separation from our courts. In separation in-fact, there was no declaration of legal separation from the courts, but you have been living apart. Nonetheless, whether your separation is legal or in-fact, the marriage bond remains. According to Art. 63(1) of the Family Code, “The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects: (1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed [.]”
Since you and your husband remain married despite the separation, you may file a criminal case for bigamy against your spouse. Bigamy is defined under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:
“Art. 349. Bigamy. – 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.”
The Code provides two instances when bigamy may be committed by a person who contracts a second marriage: first, when his former marriage has not yet been legally dissolved, and second, before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment by the court. The provision means that in order to contract a marriage that is not bigamous, a person who desires to marry another must first make sure that his former marriage was either nullified or if he is unsure if his spouse is dead, must confirm it with the courts.
Since you said that you are only separated from your husband and is still very much alive, you may file a criminal case for bigamy against him.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org