Thursday, January 03, 2008

Family Code of the Philippines: Requisites of marriage, void and voidable marriages, annulment, declaration of nullity, rights and obligations of spouses


More than 30,000 unique and repeat visitors have browsed my Family Matters website since it became online in December 2005. The second most browsed page of this site is that of the Family Code provisions on marriage. Sad to say but the number one question I have been asked by the more than 500 people who have e-mailed me for legal information and Biblical counseling is how a marriage can be annulled or declared null and void.

Be that as it may, as Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott state in their book “Relationships”, 95% of today's singles still deeply desire to be married. As John Eldredge put it in his book “The Journey of Desire”, we were created for intimacy. Or as the Bible puts it, “marriage is honourable unto all.” And so the wedding bells keep ringing ...

Contrary to popular belief, more Filipinos get married in January than in June. So for those of you getting married this month or contemplating marriage sometime soon, I have provided below some information on the requisites of marriage, void and voidable marriages, annulment / declaration of nullity, Article 36 or psychological incapacity, rights and obligations of spouses.

How does the Family Code define “marriage”?

Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. (Article 1)

What are the essential requisites that make a marriage valid?

Article 2 provides that 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.

What are the formal requisites of marriage?

The formal requisites of marriage according to Article 3 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 in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

What is the effect if an essential or formal requisite is absent?

The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35 (2).

What is the effect if any of the essential requisites is defective?

A defect in any of the essential requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.

Is a marriage void if there is no record of the marriage certificate on file with the NSO?

The marriage certificate is not an essential nor a formal requisite of marriage. Despite the absence of the marriage certificate in the NSO files, the validity of the marriage is not affected. Other proofs (marriage license, testimony of the solemnizing officer, etc) can be presented to prove the existence and validity of the marriage.

What is the age at which a man or woman can get married?

Any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage. (54a)

Is there any prescribed form for the marriage ceremony?

No prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of the marriage is required. It shall be necessary, however, for the contracting parties to appear personally before the solemnizing officer and declare in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife. This declaration shall be contained in the marriage certificate which shall be signed by the contracting parties and their witnesses and attested by the solemnizing officer.

If a party cannot sign the marriage certificate, what can be done?

In case of a marriage in articulo mortis, when the party at the point of death is unable to sign the marriage certificate, it shall be sufficient for one of the witnesses to the marriage to write the name of said party, which fact shall be attested by the solemnizing officer.

Who are authorized to solemnize marriages?

Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by:

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction;

(2) Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect duly authorized by his church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted by his church or religious sect and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer's church or religious sect;

(3) Any ship captain or airplane chief only in the case mentioned in Article 31;

(4) Any military commander of a unit to which a chaplain is assigned, in the absence of the latter, during a military operation, likewise only in the cases mentioned in Article 32;

(5) Any consul-general, consul or vice-consul in the case provided in Article 10.

Note: The Local Government Code of 1991 restored to the mayors their authority to solemnize marriages

For Filipinos residing or traveling abroad and who want to get married, who can solemnize the marriage?

The consul-general, the consul or vice-consul of the Republic of the Philippines can solemnize the marriage. The issuance of the marriage license and the duties of the local civil registrar and of the solemnizing officer with regard to the celebration of marriage shall be performed by said consular official.

What can be done if upon applying for a marriage license, the parties cannot produce their birth certificates?

The presentation of birth or baptismal certificate shall not be required if the parents of the contracting parties appear personally before the local civil registrar concerned and swear to the correctness of the lawful age of said parties, as stated in the application, or when the local civil registrar shall, by merely looking at the applicants upon their personally appearing before him, be convinced that either or both of them have the required age. (Last paragraph, Article 12)

What are the requirements of the Local Civil Registrar if either of the contracting parties were previously married?

In case either of the contracting parties has been previously married, the applicant shall be required to furnish, instead of the birth or baptismal certificate required in the last preceding article, the death certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of the absolute divorce, or the judicial decree of annulment or declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage.
In case the death certificate cannot be secured, the party shall make an affidavit setting forth this circumstance and his or her actual civil status and the name and date of death of the deceased spouse. (Article 13)

What is the effectivity of the marriage license once issued?

The license shall be valid in any part of the Philippines for a period of one hundred twenty days from the date of issue, and shall be deemed automatically canceled at the expiration of the said period if the contracting parties have not made use of it. The expiry date shall be stamped in bold characters on the face of every license issued. (Article 20)

What are the requirements if a foreigner wants to get married here in the Philippines?

When either or both of the contracting parties are citizens of a foreign country, it shall be necessary for them before a marriage license can be obtained, to submit a certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage, issued by their respective diplomatic or consular officials.

Stateless persons or refugees from other countries shall, in lieu of the certificate of legal capacity herein required, submit an affidavit stating the circumstances showing such capacity to contract marriage. (Article 21)

What are the rules for marriages entered into by Filipinos in foreign countries?

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35 (1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. (Article 26)

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by Executive Order 227)

Under what circumstances will a marriage license no longer be required?

In case either or both of the contracting parties are at the point of death, the marriage may be solemnized without necessity of a marriage license and shall remain valid even if the ailing party subsequently survives. (Article 27)

If 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, the marriage may be solemnized without necessity of a marriage license. (Article 28)

Marriages among Muslims or among members of the ethnic cultural communities may be performed validly without the necessity of marriage license, provided they are solemnized in accordance with their customs, rites or practices. (Article 33)

No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage. (Article 34)

What are the rules for marriages performed by a ship captain or a pilot?

A marriage in articulo mortis between passengers or crew members may also be 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)

What are the rules for marriages performed by a military commander?

A military commander of a unit, who is a commissioned officer, shall likewise have authority to solemnize marriages in articulo mortis between persons within the zone of military operation, whether members of the armed forces or civilians. (Article 32)

What marriages are considered void from the beginning?

Article 35 of the Family Code provides that the following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

(1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians;

(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so;

(3) Those solemnized without license, except those covered under the preceding Chapter;

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not failing under Article 41;

(5) Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other; and

(6) Those subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53.
What is the famous “Article 36” of the Family Code?

The said article provides, to wit, “A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”

The Family Code does not have a definition of what “psychological incapacity” is. In the case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court stated, "Psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It should refer, rather, to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage. Psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."

What marriages are considered incestuous and thus void?

Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:
(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and

(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood.
What marriages are considered void by reasons of public policy?

The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:
(1) Between collateral blood relatives whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
(2) Between step-parents and step-children;

(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;

(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;

(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;

(8) Between adopted children of the same adopter; and

(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person's spouse, or his or her own spouse.
Can a person who finds out that his or her marriage is bigamous simply take the law into his or her own hands and declare that the marriage is void?

No, Article 40 states that the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.

If the husband or wife has been missing for several years and could not be located despite earnest and diligent efforts to locate him or her, can the present spouse get married again?

Article 41 provides that a marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.

In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.

What step should the present spouse take so that he or she can get married again?

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under Article 41, the spouse present should file a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.

What happens if the spouse declared presumptively dead reappears later on?

The subsequent marriage shall be automatically terminated by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is a judgment annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio.

A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be recorded in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage at the instance of any interested person, with due notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to the fact of reappearance being judicially determined in case such fact is disputed.

What are the effects if the subsequent marriage is terminated?

Article 43 provides that the termination of the subsequent marriage shall produce the following effects:

(1) The children of the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination shall be considered legitimate;

(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or in default of children, the innocent spouse;

(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;

(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and

(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.
What are the reasons for annulling a marriage?

Article 45 provides that a marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:

(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;

(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or

(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.
Article 45, paragraph (3) speaks of fraud that may annul a marriage. What constitutes fraud?

Any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud referred to in Number 3 of the preceding Article:

(1) Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;

(2) Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;

(3) Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or

(4) Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.

No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.

Who can file for the annulment of a marriage and within what periods?

(1) For causes mentioned in number 1 of Article 45 by the party whose parent or guardian did not give his or her consent, within five years after attaining the age of twenty-one, or by the parent or guardian or person having legal charge of the minor, at any time before such party has reached the age of twenty-one;

(2) For causes mentioned in number 2 of Article 45, by the same spouse, who had no knowledge of the other's insanity; or by any relative or guardian or person having legal charge of the insane, at any time before the death of either party, or by the insane spouse during a lucid interval or after regaining sanity;

(3) For causes mentioned in number 3 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the discovery of the fraud;

(4) For causes mentioned in number 4 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years from the time the force, intimidation or undue influence disappeared or ceased;
(5) For causes mentioned in number 5 and 6 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the marriage.
What is the duty of the Court in cases of annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages?

Article 48 provides that in all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

During the course of the trial for the annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages, how can the rights of the spouses and their children as to support, visitation rights, etc be ensured?

Article 49 provides that during the pendency of the action and in the absence of adequate provisions in a written agreement between the spouses, the Court shall provide for the support of the spouses and the custody and support of their common children. The Court shall give paramount consideration to the moral and material welfare of said children and their choice of the parent with whom they wish to remain as provided for in Title IX. It shall also provide for appropriate visitation rights of the other parent.

What are the things to be decided upon by the Court in cases of annulment or declaration of nullity?

Article 50 provides that the final judgment of the Court shall provide for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common children, and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been decided upon in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

How can the rights of the children be guaranteed?

Article 51 provides that in the partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all common children, computed as of the date of the final judgment of the trial court, shall be delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless the parties, by mutual agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.

The children or their guardian or the trustee of their property may ask for the enforcement of the judgment.

Does this mean that the children will no longer inherit from their parents?

No, the delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in no way prejudice the ultimate successional rights of the children accruing upon the death of either of both of the parents; but the value of the properties already received under the decree of annulment or absolute nullity shall be considered as advances on their legitime.

What are required to be done with the judgment, partition, etc?

The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses and the delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall not affect third persons.

When can the former spouses get married again to other persons?

Article 53 provides that either of the former spouses may marry again after compliance with the requirements of Article 52; otherwise, the subsequent marriage shall be null and void.

What is the status of the children in such cases?

Article 54 provides that children conceived or born before the judgment of annulment or absolute nullity of the marriage under Article 36 has become final and executory shall be considered legitimate. Children conceived or born of the subsequent marriage under Article 53 shall likewise be legitimate.

The rights and obligations of husbands and wives

The rights and obligations of husbands and wives are covered by Title III of the Family Code, specifically from Articles 68 up to 73. Please surf over to my Salt and Light blog for a primer on the rights and obligations of husbands and wives, plus a discussion on the Biblical views about the roles of men and women.

Article 68 provides that “the husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.” Speaking of love and respect, you might also be interested in reading my article entitled “Love and Respect” which discusses Ptr. Emerson Eggerichs’ view that a woman’s deepest need is love while a man’s deepest need is respect. Without love, a woman reacts without respect. Without respect, a man reacts without love.

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