• According to the Law: Validity of Marriage when Civil Registry has no Records

    Does the absence of a marriage record at the civil registry make it null and void?
    by Atty. Nikki Jimeno .
  • wedding

    Q:

    My husband and I got married under civil rights, but when I checked online, our document doesn’t seem to be filed with the city hall. Does this change anything? Was the marriage legal?

    Paula


    A:

    Hi Paula, Congratulations and best wishes on your recent wedding!

    Because you got married in a civil ceremony, I will assume that your marriage was solemnized by either a judge, a mayor, or a registered solemnizing officer (for simplicity’s sake, I will refer to all of them as “the solemnizing officer”). After you and your spouse signed the marriage certificate, the solemnizing officer should have given one of you your own copy of this marriage certificate. He also has the duty of sending the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage certificate to the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage was solemnized, not later than fifteen days after the marriage. So if you checked online before the end of this fifteen-day period, then that might explain it. If it’s already well past the fifteen day mark, keep in mind that government websites may not be regularly updated, so even if your marriage certificate had already been submitted and registered with the civil registry, the online records might not be up to date. To be sure, try calling the NSO hotline at 737-1111, or better yet, go to your local civil registry or the NSO personally to check if your marriage has been registered.

    As to the legality of your marriage, as long as you complied with all the requisites of marriage, then it is valid, whether or not your marriage contract was registered. The essential requisites include: (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and (2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. The first requisite means that you must both be eighteen years old and above, and you have no legal impediments to marry (for example, neither of you should have an existing valid marriage to another person). The second requirement refers to your definite intention to get married - if one or both of you are just being forced to marry each other, then the marriage is void.

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