The legal capacity to contract marriage

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I was only 17 years old when I got married in 1996. My husband and I lived together for only a few months and have been separated ever since. I am now 35 years old and I have plans of getting married again. What shall I do with my first marriage? Is it valid?

Dear Race,
The Family Code of the Philippines is the law in effect at the time of your marriage in 1996. For a marriage to be considered valid, the essential and formal requisites enumerated in
Articles 2 and 3 thereof shall be complied with, to wit:

“Article 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:

1. Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and

2. Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer;
“Article 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

1. Authority of the solemnizing officer;

2. A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and

3. A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife.”

A person shall be considered to have legal capacity to contract marriage if he/she is eighteen years old or upwards and not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38 of the Family Code of the Philippines (Article 5, Family Code (FC) of the Philippines). Since you were only seventeen years old at the time of your marriage, you do not have the legal capacity to enter into a marriage. Hence, your marriage is considered as void from the beginning (Article 35, FC).

Before you may be allowed to contract another marriage again, your previous marriage must first be declared null and void by the court. To be able to do so, you need to file a petition first for the declaration of the nullity of your marriage. Your petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner (Section 4, Rule on Declaration of Nullity of Marriage).

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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


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