Is a marriage license really necessary before I can get married? Both my boyfriend and I are already 35 years old. We have been together for several years already, and we just thought of getting married this month. We want to have the ceremony by next month, but our friends told us that it may take a while to process the marriage license. Please advise me on this matter.
A valid marriage license is one of the formal requisites of a lawfully binding marriage (Article 3, Family Code of the Philippines). The absence thereof may render the marriage void ab initio. (Article 4 in relation to Article 35 (3), Id.)
However, there are exceptional circumstances provided under our law where a marriage may still be considered valid despite the absence of such license, to wit: (a) Those contracted when either or both of the contracting parties are at the point of death, notwithstanding if the ailing party subsequently survives (Article 27, Id.); (b) Those contracted where the residence of either party is so located that there is no means of transportation to enable such party to appear personally before the local civil registrar (Article 28, Id.); (c) Marriages in articulo mortis between passengers or crew members which are solemnized by a ship captain or by an airplane pilot not only while the ship is at sea or the plane is in flight, but also during stopovers at ports of call (Article 31, Id.); (d) Marriages in articulo mortis between persons within the zone of military operation, whether members of the armed forces or civilian, which are solemnized by military commander of a unit, who is a commissioned officer (Article 32, Id.); (e) Those contracted among Muslims or among members of the ethnic cultural communities, provided they are solemnized in accordance with their customs, rites or practices (Article 33, Id.); and (f) Those contracted by a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five (5) years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. (Article 34, Id.)
Accordingly, you and your boyfriend may only do away with the requirement of marriage license if your situation falls under any of the abovementioned exceptional circumstances. Otherwise, you will certainly need to secure first a valid marriage license from the local civil registrar of the city or municipality where either of you habitually resides. (Article 9, Id.) While the processing may take some time, depending on whether or not you have completely submitted the pertinent documents relating to such application, it will be well worth it as this will enable you to lawfully contract marriage under the circumstances given.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org