G.R. No. 137110, 1 August 2000
Dr. Vincent Mercado was previously married with Thelma Oliva in 1976 before he contracted marriage with Consuelo Tan in 1991 which the latter claims she did not know. Tan filed bigamy against Mercado and after a month the latter filed an action for declaration of nullity of marriage against Oliva. The decision in 1993 declared marriage between Mercado and Oliva null and void.
Whether Mercado committed bigamy in spite of filing the declaration of nullity of the former marriage.
Yes. Mercado is guilty of bigamy.
The law provides that: “The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.” A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by the statute as “void.”
In the case at bar, Mercado only filed the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Oliva right after Tan filed bigamy case. Hence, by then, the crime had already been consummated. He contracted second marriage without the judicial declaration of the nullity. The fact that the first marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense in a bigamy charge.
* Case digest by Ariel M. Acopiado, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018