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Friday, July 3, 2015

NULLITY OF MARRIAGE: Lady B's Bigamous Subsequent Marriage


FACTUAL SCENARIO:

Lady B 
came to know of Guy A through a common friend. For several months of regular dating, the two became lovers. B married A in a civil wedding held on April 3, 1998. The union of and A begot them two children namely – V and S.

Unknown to B, A was at the time of their marriage is still very much united in a lawful wedlock with one whom A married in 1997. A knew that during his marriage to B that J is still alive. In one occasion, B saw A talking to J just outside their house in San Juan. When B confronted A about the incident, A intimated that he contracted a “secret marriage” with J but said marriage was not registered and thus not valid.

Regrettably, B later discovered the whole truth when A left her and her daughters.  The twin marriages of A with both B and were duly evidenced and supported by Certificates of Marriage, which is a matter of public record.

COUNSEL'S EVALUATION:


A’s deliberate disregard of the permanent and sacrosanct character of marriage gives rise to a criminal prosecution for Bigamy. Likewise, the subsequent marriage to B without annulling his prior marriage with J has resulted in a bigamous arrangement, which makes the subsequent marriage void from the beginning pursuant to the provisions of Article 2 (Par. 1) in relation to Article 35, Paragraph 4 and Article 41 of the Family Code.


  “Article 2. No marriage shall be valid ,unless these essential requisites are present:
(1)Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be male and female. Xxx
"Article 35.   The following marriages shall be void from the beginning: xxx (4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41 (declared presumptively dead)."

But regrettably for B, terminating her marriage to A given the circumstances is still very unpopular in the Philippines due to very strong religious influence to the laws and the courts. Under Article 40 of the Family Code, 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. 

Simply put, B’s only recourse to terminate her bigamous marriage to A is through a petition asking the court to declare the marriage void. B’s petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage is subjected to a full blown trial where the presiding judge personally conducts the trial of the case. The judge cannot delegate reception of evidence to a commissioner and no judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment shall be allowed. B must prove the grounds for Nullity through presentation of at least three witnesses including her as the petitioning spouse.

COURT FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION: 
(quoted verbatim from the decision rendered by the Honorable Court on January 7, 2013)

"Respondent (A)'s name is A.R.A. In his Certificate of Marriage with B, which was celebrated on April 3, 1998, his birth date is listed as April 12, 1973. Also in the same Certificate of Marriage, his parents are J.A and J.R and his birthplace is Manila. In his Certificate of Marriage with J, which was officiated on April 14, 1997, the same details appear. Respondent's birth certificate shows identical personal circumstances. The NSO certification (re-marked Exhibit "N") points to respondent A's marriages to J and petitioner B.

This Court is convinced by preponderance of evidence that respondent who was married to petitioner (B) is one and the same person who had wedded J. Preponderance of evidence means "the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other". This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable  truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence. Thus, one clearly knowledgeable witness may provide a preponderance of evidence over a dozen of witnesses with hazy testimony, or a signed agreement with definite terms may outweigh opinions or speculations about what the parties intended. Preponderance of evidence is required in a civil case and is contrasted by "proof beyond reasonable doubt", which is the more severe test required to convict in a criminal trial. No matter what the definition stated in various opinions, the meaning is somewhat subjected".(with footnote - legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)


Clearly, respondent (A)'s marriage to petitioner (B) is bigamous. There is no evidence on record that respondent's first marriage to had been nullified or dissolved before his marriage was officiated . The State and respondent offered no evidence on this score. The Certificate of Marriage between respondent (A) and J and the NSO certification (re-marked Exhibit "N") are prima facie evidence of their contents - that is, a marriage still subsists between respondent and J. In the absence of contrary evidence, this Court gives force and effect to these documents as to what they each narrate.


The minor children V and S, shall be under the care and custody of petitioner. Respondent has been duly summoned in this case but he failed to appear. Further, as the evidence shows, he abandoned them when he left for places unknown until he was located when the summons was served on him. He failed to give support to petitioner and their minor children. He has been an absentee father and husband since he left the abode with petitioner B and their children.


WHEREFORE, the petition for nullity of marriage is granted. Judgment is rendered nullifying the marriage between B and A under Article 35 and 41 of the Family Code. Further, the care and custody of daughters V and S are awarded to petitioner B without prejudice to respondent A's visitation right."

3 comments:

Orchid Tobacco said...

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mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Hi Orchid. Thank you for reading my post and for subscribing to my feed. It has been awhile since I have written on this blog, but because of your encouraging comments I think I should be posting more! Thanks again!

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