During preparations for our wedding, my fiancé and I were both shocked to discover that official records stated his status as ‘married’. He then admitted to an incident in his past where he and a friend played a reckless joke when they were both minors and, without a marriage license, 'got married' in civil rights. However, they never lived as man and wife. Was it valid? Does he need to go through an annulment first before we could proceed with our own wedding?
Dear In Disbelief,
If it were true that your fiancé and his friend were just minors then, and that they had no marriage license, then their marriage is void ab initio for failure to comply with both an essential and formal requisite of marriage. Still, the marriage was real enough for all intents and purposes, considering that there is a record of such marriage (hence, his status as already married), and it cannot be simply ignored.
Even though the marriage was just a joke, it was certainly not harmless. Before the two of you can get married, your fiancé first needs to file a petition to declare his first marriage void. To prove his case, he needs to present evidence that he and/or his friend were still minors at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Next, he has to obtain a copy of the marriage contract so that he can look for the marriage license number and where this marriage license was supposedly obtained. He then needs to go to the civil registrar of the city or municipality where the marriage license was supposedly issued, to get a certification that no such marriage license exists. Moreover, he might be asked by the court to present a representative from the civil registrar to testify that there was no application for a marriage license filed by your fiancé and his friend prior to their marriage. Unfortunately for you two, this process might take anywhere from 6 months to more than a year.
If you and your fiancé are thinking about getting married anyway before the previous marriage is declared void, don’t! This will not only make your own marriage invalid as well, but it will also make you criminally liable for bigamy.
As I said in a previous article, marriage is not something to be taken lightly, and it is really regrettable that this is a lesson your fiancé learned the hard way. Here’s hoping that your love can withstand this situation, and that this is just a small hiccup on your way to wedded bliss. Good luck!
Atty. Nikki Jimeno
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