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The Philippine Lawyer – CAN A MARRIAGE BE CONSIDERED VALID EVEN IF THE PERSON SOLEMNIZING THE MARRIAGE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO?

-Ferdie Aguirre

(About the writer: G. Ferdinand (Ferdie) Aguirre has more than 20 years of combined experience as a legal professional in the Philippines and in Canada. After graduating from the Ateneo de Manila College of Law in 1987 and passing the Bar given that year, he has held the following positions in the Philippine Corporate world: Asst. Senior Vice President of the Philippine National Bank, Senior Manager of the Law Division of the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company and as Chief Legal Counsel of Unibancard. His private practice included having successfully handled several major cases and being included in the Philippine case books. Ferdie Aguirre was also a professor of Political Science and Business Law before migrating to Ontario Canada in 2005 where worked as a Paralegal. He is presently a Court Agent & a Commissioner for Oaths in Alberta and is now working on his admission to the Alberta Bar. Ferdie Aguirre may be reached at (403) 6131168 /(403) 4747168 or at pilipinolegalservices@yahoo.ca)

CAN A MARRIAGE BE CONSIDERED VALID
EVEN IF THE PERSON SOLEMNIZING THE
MARRIAGE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO?

Joel and Emy have been dating each other for the last six months, having casually met at a jazz bar in Makati. A few weeks after one thosef dates where they end up having more than a good night kiss, Emy found herself in the “family way”. Since Emy has decided on keeping the baby, Joel had no choice but to agree on the condition that before Emy announces her condition to her family, they would have a “discreet wedding” attended only by two of their closest friends as witnesses. According to Joel, this is the only way that his life can be spared since Emy’s two brothers were known tough guys in their neighbourhood. Emy agreed provided that they will have a church wedding before the child is born.

On the day of the wedding, Emy brought their marriage license and her two closest friends to act as witnesses to a building near Manila City Hall. There they found Joel waiting with a man whom he introduced as a wedding minister. After a brief exchange of vows, Emy, Joel and their witnesses all signed the marriage certificate provided by the minister.

Unknown to Emy and her friends, the “minister” was a fake and cannot perform marriages.

Joel’s plan was to wait for the approval of his work application abroad and leave Emy for good.

That evening, Joel and Emy made her condition known to her family. Using the marriage certificate as a “shield”, the couple only got a tongue lashing from her parents.

Joel subsequently received a call from the employment agency. He was surprised why he was being asked to confirm his marital status as his application does not match the records in the National Statistics Office (NSO).

After conducting some investigation, Joel discovered that one of Emy’s friend who was at their wedding, worked at the Manila City Hall. Apparently she submitted a copy of their marriage certificate to the registry.

Joel immediately went to the NSO and requested that his marital status be changed from married to single. He argued that since the person who performed the marriage was not authorized by law, his marriage to Emy is void.

WAS THERE A VALID MARRIAGE?

It is believed that there is a valid marriage. We quote Article 35(2) of the Family Code:

Chapter 3. Void and Voidable Marriages

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
(1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians;
(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so; (underscoring provided)
(3) Those solemnized without license, except those covered the preceding Chapter;
(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not failing under Article 41;
(5) Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other; and
(6) Those subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53.

Since Emy believed in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the authority to do so, her marriage to Joel must be considered as valid.

(Legal Disclaimer: This article is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be neither formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.)



One Comment on "The Philippine Lawyer – CAN A MARRIAGE BE CONSIDERED VALID EVEN IF THE PERSON SOLEMNIZING THE MARRIAGE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO?"

  1. omar poreno on Fri, 11th Feb 2011 7:20 am 

    what if the marriage was celebrated without a marriage license and the person who solemnized it had no authority. the bride wasn’t aware of the necessity of a marriage license and she believed in good faith that the fake priest had the authority to carry out the marriage?







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