G.R. No. 133778, 14 March 2000
Pepito Ninal was married with Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. They had 3 children namely Babyline, Ingrid and Archie, petitioners. Due to the shot inflicted by Pepito to Teodulfa, the latter died on April 24, 1985 leaving the children under the guardianship of EngraceNinal. 1 year and 8 months later, Pepito and Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. They instituted an affidavit stating that they had lived together for at least 5 years exempting from securing the marriage license. Pepito died in a car accident on February 19, 1977. After his death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito and Norma alleging that said marriage was void for lack of marriage license. The case was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner’s successional rights.Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file an action for “annulment of marriage” under Article 47 of the Family Code.
1. Whether or not the second marriage of Pepito was void?
2. Whether or not the heirs of the deceased may file for the declaration of the nullity of Pepito’s marriage after his death?
1. The marriage of Pepito and Norma is void for absence of the marriage license. The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration. A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio. However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that provided in Article 76, referring to the marriage of 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.
In this case, they cannot be exempted even though they instituted an affidavit and claimed that they cohabit for at least 5 years because from the time of Pepito’s first marriage was dissolved to the time of his marriage with Norma, only about 20 months had elapsed. Albeit, Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and Norma had started living with each other that has already lasted for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by law. Hence, his marriage to Norma is still void.
2. No. Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in order to establish the nullity of a marriage. “A void marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a court of competent jurisdiction. Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any time, whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts.” It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio. But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage and such absolute nullity can be based only on a final judgment to that effect.
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to determination of heir ship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018