“Marriage is the basic societal unit that threads the fabric of Philippine society”

 

For a country that values and recognizes the sanctity of family life, marriage is something that every couple looks forward to. More than the celebrations, marriage is a ceremony that welcomes a new member to the family.

While admittedly not all will get married whether by choice or otherwise, marriage is the basic societal unit that threads the fabric of Philippine society. In fact, our adoration for family is both our nation’s strength and weakness.

We are ready to die for our families yet some are not willing to do the same for our country. We are willing to do whatever it takes to improve the life of our families but some do not have the courage to sacrifice for the welfare of the nation.

The appropriate marrying age sparks a fascinating discussion in family gatherings. Some will say that as soon as he or she graduates from college, they must get married. Meanwhile others will marry only when they feel they are financially stable.

In the 1950s, a Filipino male can marry if he is at least 16 years old while a Filipino female can marry if she is at least 14 years old. The legal age to marry then was provided by Republic Act 386, otherwise known as the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The legal age to marry was later increased in 1988 to at least 18 years old for both the male and female. It is interesting to know that the marrying age patterns have not been affected by the statutory age requirement.

From 1950s to 1980s the mean age at marriage was 22.4 for females and 24.8 for males[https://library.pcw.gov.ph/sites/default/files/Statistics%20on%20Filipino%20women.pdf. This trend may have been influenced by factors such as financial capacity, employment, education, or just an outright desire to get married immediately.

While the legal age to marry is at least 18 years of age for both males and females, it does not mean that couples can marry anytime. Couples between the ages of 18 to 21 who want to marry will need to obtain the consent of their father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them; in that order. (Article 14, Family Code of the Philippines, [FCP])

The consent shall be manifested in writing by the interested party, who personally appears before the proper local civil registrar; or in the form of an affidavit made in the presence of two witnesses and attested before any official authorized by law to administer oaths (Article 14, FCP).

If the marriage is solemnized without obtaining the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, the marriage may be annulled unless after attaining the age of 21 the wed party has freely cohabited as husband and wife (Article 45 [1], FCP).

Couples or halves of couples between the ages of 21 and 25 who want to marry shall be obliged to secure their parents’ or guardians’ advice to marry. If they fail to obtain this advice, the marriage license shall not be issued until after three months following the completion of the publication of the application for the marriage license (Article 15, FCP).

In cases wherein parental consent or parental advice is needed, the party or parties concerned shall attach a certificate issued by a priest, imam or minister authorized to solemnize marriage, or a marriage counselor duly accredited by the proper government agency to the effect that they have undergone marriage counseling (Article 16, FCP).

Failure to attach said certificates of marriage counseling shall suspend the issuance of the marriage license for a period of 3 months from the completion of the publication. Issuance of the marriage license within the prohibited period shall subject the issuing officer to administrative sanctions but shall not affect the validity of the marriage (Article 16, FCP).

However, no marriage license is necessary if a man and a woman have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and if neither are without any legal impediment [like an existing marriage] to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. (Article 34, FCP).

In addition to the limits imposed on the statutory age to marry, other prerequisites are: the couple must be male and female, and their consent must be freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer (Article 2, FCP). The absence of any of these requirements shall render the marriage void (Article 4, FCP).

The marriage, to be valid, must be solemnized by an authorized solemnizing officer such as a mayor, judge, justice, priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect (Article 7, FCP; Section 455 (xviii), Local Government Code of 1991).

A marriage ceremony is necessary but there is no prescribed form or religious rite required. The contracting parties must appear personally before the solemnizing officer and declare in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife (Article 6, FCP).

The declaration of the contracting parties shall be contained in the marriage certificate duly signed by them and their witnesses and attested by the solemnizing officer (Article 6, FCP). You may have as many sponsors (ninongs and ninangs), but the law only requires the signatures of two witnesses.

The marriage is voidable or valid until annulled if at the time of the marriage (a) either party was of unsound mind but after coming to reason, still freely cohabited with the other spouse; or (b) the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, he or she still freely cohabited with the other spouse (Article 45, FCP).

If the consent of either party is vitiated by force, intimidation or undue influence at the time of the marriage, the marriage is voidable unless after the said influence or intimidation has disappeared or ceased, the affected party freely cohabited with the other (Article 45, FCP). An example is a shot-gun marriage or “pikot,” though the consent was obtained by intimidation the other party continued to cohabit after it stopped.

If, at the time of the marriage, either party is physically incapable to consummate the marriage with the other, or was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable, the marriage may be annulled (Article 45, FCP). This may occur if the husband is impotent or suffering from AIDS.

On the other hand, the following marriages are void: (a) one contracted by a person who has a preexisting marriage; (b) between ascendants and descendants (including step parents and step children, parents-in-law and children-in-law, adopting parent and adopted child); and (c) between brothers and sisters (Articles 35, 37 to 38, FCP).

Also considered as void are marriages: (a) between collateral blood relatives up to the fourth civil degree (such as first cousins); (b) between the adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter; and (c) between adopted children of the same adopter (Article 38, FCP).

Whether the marriage is claimed by either party as void or voidable, it would require a court judgment or declaration. The action to declare a marriage void is an action for nullity of marriage while the action to terminate or annul a voidable marriage is an action for annulment of marriage.

Marriage is a unique contract between a man and woman because it has no written stipulations as to its tenure, obligations of the parties, events of default, curing period, renewal, and penalties for breach. All that is expected from them is to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support (Article 68, FCP).

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Aquilino Managbanag

By Aquilino Managbanag

Aquilino Managbanag EXPERIENCE: Four years at The Asian Pacific Post, a weekly Canadian newspaper founded in 1993 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The newspaper specialized in reporting Asian issues, and has a readership of 160,000. It has a sister publication in The South Asian Post. EDUCATION: University of Santo Tomas – Manila -- The private Roman Catholic research university is Asia’s oldest existing university. The university takes pride in keeping the Catholic faith and beliefs prominent while holding true to its centuries-old tradition of academic excellence.