G.R. No. 175581, 28 March 2008
Jose and Felisa Dayot were married at the Pasay City Hall on November 24, 1986. In lieu of a marriage license, they executed a sworn affidavit that they had lived together for at least 5years. On August 1990, Jose contracted marriage with a certain Rufina Pascual. They were both employees of the National Statistics and Coordinating Board. Felisa then filed on June 1993 an action for bigamy against Jose and an administrative complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman. On the other hand, Jose filed a complaint on July 1993 for annulment and/or declaration of nullity of marriage where he contended that his marriage with Felisa was a sham and his consent was secured through fraud.
Whether or not Jose’s marriage with Felisa is valid considering that they executed a sworn affidavit in lieu of the marriage license requirement.
CA indubitably established that Jose and Felisa have not lived together for five years at the time they executed their sworn affidavit and contracted marriage. Jose and Felisa started living together only in June 1986, or barely five months before the celebration of their marriage on November 1986. Jurisprudence has laid down the rule that the five-year common-law cohabitation period under Article 76 means a five-year period computed back from the date of celebration of marriage, and refers to a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of a marriage. It covers the years immediately preceding the day of the marriage, characterized by exclusivity – meaning no third party was involved at any time within the five years – and continuity that is unbroken. Findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are binding in the Supreme Court.
The solemnization of a marriage without prior license is a clear violation of the law and invalidates a marriage. Furthermore, “the falsity of the allegation in the sworn affidavit relating to the period of Jose and Felisa’s cohabitation, which would have qualified their marriage as an exception to the requirement for a marriage license, cannot be a mere irregularity, for it refers to a quintessential fact that the law precisely required to be deposed and attested to by the parties under oath”. Hence, Jose and Felisa’s marriage is void ab initio. The court also ruled that an action for nullity of marriage is imprescriptible. The right to impugn marriage does not prescribe and may be raised any time.
* Case digest by Jason S. Olasiman, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018