De Castro v. De Castro

G.R. No. 160172, 13 February 2008

FACTS:

Petitioner and respondent met and became sweethearts in 1991. They planned to get married, thus they applied for a marriage license with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City in September 1994. They had their first sexual relation sometime in October 1994, and had regularly engaged in sex thereafter. When the couple went back to the Office of the Civil Registrar, the marriage license had already expired. Thus, in order to push through with the plan, in lieu of a marriage license, they executed an affidavit dated 13 March 1995 stating that they had been living together as husband and wife for at least five years. The couple got married on the same date, with Judge Jose C. Bernabe, presiding judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City, administering the civil rites. Nevertheless, after the ceremony, petitioner and respondent went back to their respective homes and did not live together as husband and wife.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the marriage between petitioner and respondent is valid.

RULING:

No. The marriage between petitioner and respondent is void ab initio.

Under the Article 4 of the Family Code, the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, whereas a defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable.

Art. 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.

Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are: (1) Authority of the solemnizing officer; (2) A valid marriage license; 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.

In the instant case, it is clear from the evidence presented that petitioner and respondent did not have a marriage license when they contracted their marriage.Instead, they presented an affidavit stating that they had been living together for more than five years. However, respondent herself in effect admitted the falsity of the affidavit when she was asked during cross-examination. The falsity of the affidavit cannot be considered as a mere irregularity in the formal requisites of marriage. The law dispenses with the marriage license requirement for a man and a woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage.

The aim of this provision is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant’s name for a marriage license. In the instant case, there was no “scandalous cohabitation” to protect; in fact, there was no cohabitation at all. The false affidavit which petitioner and respondent executed so they could push through with the marriage has no value whatsoever; it is a mere scrap of paper. They were not exempt from the marriage license requirement. Their failure to obtain and present a marriage license renders their marriage void ab initio.

* Case digest by Aileen B. Buenafe, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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