G.R. No. 127406, 27 November 2000
Edgardo M. Reyes married Anna Maria Regina Villanueva in a civil ceremony on March 29, 1977, in Manila. Then they had a church wedding on August 27, 1977. However, on August 4, 1980, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Quezon City declared their marriage null and void ab initio for lack of a valid marriage license.The church wedding on August 27, 1977, was also declared null and void ab initio for lack of consent of the parties.
Even before the decree was issued nullifying his marriage to Anna Maria, private respondent wed Ofelia P. Ty on April 4, 1979, in ceremonies officiated by the judge of the City Court of Pasay. On April 4, 1982, they also had a church wedding in Makati, Metro Manila.
On January 3, 1991, private respondent filed a Civil Case 1853-J with the RTC of Pasig, Branch 160, praying that his marriage to petitioner be declared null and void. He alleged that they had no marriage license when they got married. He also averred that at the time he married petitioner, he was still married to Anna Maria. He stated that at the time he married petitioner the decree of nullity of his marriage to Anna Maria had not been issued. The decree of nullity of his marriage to Anna Maria was rendered only on August 4, 1980, while his civil marriage to petitioner took place on April 4, 1979.
Whether the decree of nullity of the first marriage of Reyes is required before a subsequent marriage can be entered into validly.
Private respondents first and second marriages contracted in 1977 and 1979, respectively, are governed by the provisions of the Civil Code. Pertinent to the present controversy, Article 83 of the Civil Code provides that:
Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and before any person believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared null and void by a competent court.
As to whether a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage is necessary, the Civil Code contains no express provision to that effect. Jurisprudence on that time provides the following:
People v. Mendozaand People v. Aragon, this Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the nullity of a void marriage. Both cases involved the same factual milieu. Accused contracted a second marriage during the subsistence of his first marriage. After the death of his first wife, accused contracted a third marriage during the subsistence of the second marriage. The second wife initiated a complaint for bigamy. The Court acquitted accused on the ground that the second marriage is void, having been contracted during the existence of the first marriage. There is no need for a judicial declaration that said second marriage is void. Since the second marriage is void, and the first one terminated by the death ofhis wife, there are no two subsisting valid marriages. In Odayat v. Amante (1977), the Court adverted to Aragon and Mendoza precedents. We exonerated a clerk of court of the charge of immorality on the ground that his marriage to FilomenaAbella in October of 1948 was void, since she was already previously married to one Eliseo Portales in February of the same year. The Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void marriages.
On the issue of nullity of the first marriage, the court applied Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. The Court held that since the second marriage took place and all the children there under were born before the effectivity of the Family Code, there is no need for a judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence at that time. The first marriage of private respondent being void for lack of license and consent, there was no need for judicial declaration of its nullity before he could contract a second marriage. In this case, therefore, we conclude that private respondent’s second marriage to petitioner is valid.
* Case digest by Paula Bianca B. Eguia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018