G.R. No. 180863, 8 September 2009
Angelita Valdez was married with Sofio in January 1971. She gave birth to a baby girl named Nancy. They argued constantly because Sofio was unemployed and did not bring home any money. In March 1972, the latter left their house. Angelita and her child waited until in May 1972, they decided to go back to her parent’s home. 3 years have passed without any word from Sofio until in October 1975 when he showed up and they agreed to separate and executed a document to that effect. It was the last time they saw each other and had never heard of ever since. Believing that Sofio was already dead, petitioner married Virgilio Reyes in June 1985. Virgilio’s application for naturalization in US was denied because petitioner’s marriage with Sofio was subsisting. Hence, in March 2007, petitioner filed a petition seeking declaration of presumptive death of Sofio.
Whether or not petitioner’s marriage with Virgilio is valid despite lack of declaration of presumptive death of Sofio.
Yes. Petitioner’s marriage with Virgilio is valid despite lack of declaration of presumptive death of Sofio.
Pursuant to Article 83 of the Civil Code, 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, of if the absentee, though he has been absent for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and 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.
Therefore, under the Civil Code, the presumption of death is established by law and no court declaration is needed for the presumption to arise. Since death is presumed to have taken place by the seventh year of absence, Sofio is to be presumed dead starting October 1982. Consequently, at the time of petitioner’s marriage to Virgilio, there existed no impediment to petitioner’s capacity to marry, and the marriage is valid under paragraph 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code.
* Case digest by Immanuel Y. Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018