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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."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

NULLITY OF MARRIAGE: Y, the Passive - Agressive and P, the Anti - Social


FACTUAL SCENARIO: 

Lady Y and Guy P were both in their late twenties when they met through a co-worker. There was instant attraction between them on their first date. Y found P to be a man of few words, quite reserved, seemed responsible, and intelligent. P was very sweet, always giving Y flowers and fetching her whenever she went. These qualities made it easy for Y to agree to be in a relationships with P shortly thereafter. 


For eight (8) months of dating, Y and P had a very mature relationship. They were very open to each other’s feelings and ideas and communicated wellP devoted most of his time to Y, and very seldom go out with friends unlike before they got engaged. Eventually, Y and P mutually decided to get married after a few months of preparation.  


After the wedding, Y and P rented a small one-bedroom apartment owned by and located right behind Y’s parents’ home. Y didn’t like the idea of living close to her parents, but she agreed to this arrangement since P promised that they would eventually move to a bigger place away from Y’s parents, once they are able to save money. 


Y and P had a very peaceful and happy conjugal life together. P liked that Y knew how to cook various meals and keep the house comfortable and in order. P, who worked as a shift manager in a call-center worked the night-shift, always coming home at the expected time. Y did her best to keep their expenses within their budget and have a little extra put away for savings. The couple decided that Y should stop working so that  Y could get pregnant right away.


Three (3) months into the marriage, Y became pregnant. She excitedly told P about her pregnancy, but P just smiled and said something like “really…?”.  In the weeks that followed, P became secretive and withdrawn. He refused to talk about things whenever Y asked him if something was wrong. P spent less time at home and whatever time he did spend at home he usually spent either just sleeping or playing computer games. P also started coming home late and drunk and neighbors also reported that P was taking drugs. Soon after, petty issues became intense verbal arguments that eventually turned physical, with 
P displaying erratic behavior, hurting Y even though she was heavy with a child. 


When Y was about 6-7 months pregnant, Y found a message on P’s mobile phone with the contact information listed as “HR-etel” and a message saying “I’m ready to finally let you go, and not worry about the baby”. Enraged when confronted, P pushed Y to grab his mobile phone away from her which caused Y to fall backwards on the floor.  Y sustained bruises on her arms, but refused to go to the police to report domestic abuse. To quell further troubles, Y’s parents came in and intervened in the couple’s quarrels and talked to P. They agreed that it was best that P leave Y alone for a while because Y was too stressed out and it could affect her pregnancy. 

After Y and P’s daughter was born, P moved back to their apartment.  However, weeks thereafter, Y observed that P returned to his usual habits - of being lazy and often inconsiderate. Even though Y was exhausted from lack of sleep because of breastfeeding the baby, P would usually come home later than expected, eat, play some tunes on his electric guitar in high volume while Y was trying to sleep. One stormy afternoon while P slept the entire day, Y, with her daughter, decided to go back to her parents’ home . For three (3) days that Y and baby were gone, P didn’t even bother to visit them just next door. That was the end of the one and a half years of marriage between Y and P. Before long, P started cohabiting with his then mistress and fathered a child out of wedlock.



COUNSEL'S EVALUATION

After three (3) years of physical separation from P, Y consulted this representation for a possible termination of her marriage to P. Counsel referred Y to a licensed clinical psychologist for the purpose of confirming that the physical manifestations - such that P has cracked up and suddenly became lazy, inconsiderate, irresponsible, lacks ambition, physically and verbally abusive, womanizer, liar and shows no remorse for his unacceptable actions, when Y became pregnant and after giving birth to their child - were indications that either or both of them are suffering from psychological incapacity that unable them to comply with the essential marital obligations of the marriage. Clinical psychologist found that both Y and P were suffering from a deep-seated, grave and incurable psychologically incapacity that made them unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, we filed a petition for nullity of marriage based on the provision of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which reads as follows:

Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization”.


COURT FINDINGS and CONCLUSION: (quoted verbatim from the decision rendered by the Honorable Court on May 11, 2015)

 "Xxx viewed from the foregoing, Petitioner (Y) and Respondent (P) labor under an affliction that makes conjugal life unbearable. For Y, the mere thought of P makes her feel very angry and resentful.  P, at the time of the celebration of his marriage with Y, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations, and such incapacity became manifest only after the wedding.

Again, with this statement by Y, the Court now goes back to the provision of Article 36 of the Family Code, thus:


 "Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party, who at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization."
Relevant to the above cited law, Clinical Psychologist in her testimony and clinical evaluation told the Court that both parties are suffering from psychological incapacity. Y is suffering from Passive - Agressive Personality Disorder while P on the other hand is suffering from Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

She further concluded that the psychological incapacity of both parties are characterized by juridical antecedence as it already started long before they entered marriage. Since it started early in life, it has been deeply embedded within their system and becomes an integral part of their personality structure, thereby rendering such to be permanent and incurable. It is egosyntonic, meaning, they are no longer directly affected by their behavior making them blinded to undergo treatment. With these premises considered, there is no doubt that reconciliation will no longer exist between the parties. Thus, the undersigned strongly recommends that their marriage be severed and declared null and void.

With the testimony of petitioner (Y) and the clinical psychologist, and based from the evidence as appearing in the record of the case, the Court believes that, petitioner (Y) preponderantly proved her petition for declaration of her marriage be granted in the AFFIRMATIVE.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring the marriage between Y and P which was solemnized on a certain date and place as NULL and VOID in accordance with Article 36 of the Family Code;


2. Allowing Y to use her maiden name at her option;

3. Ordering that the parties' minor child shall continue to be under the custody of Y subject to visitation by P;

4. Ordering the dissolution of their community property regime if there is any; and

5. Further directing the Local Civil Registrar and Civil Registrar General, Philippine Statistics Authority to annotate / write as "ANNULLED" on the Certificate of Marriage of parties in their respective Register (Book of Marriage) and to render the same without force and effect. "