When we got married, I was only 16 years old and my husband was 19. The person who solemnized our wedding was the town mayor. I have no copy of the marriage contract or marriage license, and there is also no record or document at the NSO or the Local Civil Registrar. After our separation, I got married again when I was 20 years old. Am I guilty of bigamy?
Married too young
A: Dear Married too young,
Yes, your second marriage is a bigamous marriage.
Your first marriage, contracted when you were only 16 years old, is void from the very beginning. Article 5 of the Family Code states that only men and women aged 18 and above may get married. Because you were only 16 at the time, you lacked the legal capacity to enter into marriage, which renders your first marriage void.
However, just because your first marriage was void does not mean that you are free to remarry once it does not work out. As the Supreme Court held in the case of Domingo v. CA (G.R. No. 104818, 17 September 1993):
“Parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the fact, but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again."
In other words, if your marriage is void due to lack of an essential requisite, i.e., legal capacity of the parties and consent freely given, you must first go to court to obtain an order declaring your marriage void. Only after the first marriage has been declared null and void can you be legally free to remarry.