Requisites Of A Valid Marriage In The Philippines

From the inception of the Family Code in August 1988, the requisites of a valid marriage in the Philippines had been divided into two major classifications: the Essential and the Formal.

The essential requisites include:

  1. Legal capacity of the contracting parties, who must be male and female; and
  2. Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

On the other hand, the formal requisites are:

  1. Authority of the solemnizing officer;
  2. A valid marriage license except in the certain circumstances;
  3. A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites make the marriage void ab initio.  However, the distinction between the classifications become material in case there are defects or irregularities in the requisites.

Defects apply to the essential requisites of marriage, while irregularities pertain to the formal requisites.  Any defect in the essential requisites render the marriage voidable or valid until annulled.  An irregularity in any of the formal requisites does not affect the validity of the marriage.  However, the party responsible for such irregularity will be subject to criminal, civil or administrative liability.

The requisites of a valid marriage in the Philippines are classified into two – the essential and the formal.  In a previous article, we have enumerated the essential requirements into:

  1. Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be male and female; and
  2. Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

The absence of any of the essential requisites renders the marriage void.  Any defect on the requisites, on the other hand, does not make the marriage void but only voidable or valid until it is annulled by the courts.

Below is a brief discussion on each of the elements which make up the essential requisites of marriage.

Legal capacity of the contracting parties

Under Philippine Civil Law, a Filipino who reaches the age of eighteen (18) is deemed to have reached the age of majority and thus legally capacitated to enter into contracts, including the special contract of marriage.  However, parties between the ages of 18 and 21 will additionally require their parents’ consent to the marriage, while those between 22 to 25 years will need their parents’ advise before they are married.

Legal capacity does not pertain to the age of the parties alone.  It likewise relates to the freedom of each of the parties from any other marriage. This means that each of the parties must be single, or annulled from a previous marriage, or has had his foreign divorce judicially recognized in the Philippines.

Additionally, legal capacity relates to the relationship of the parties with each other.   The parties intending to get married must not be related by blood within the 5th civil degree of relationship.  The marriage should also not be that which is considered incestuous or that which is contrary to public policy.

Parties must be male and female

The parties entering into the marriage must, biologically, be one male and one female.  Emphasis on the biological requisite is dictated by the natural need of people to procreate, which is impossible to realize if the parties are of the same sex.

For the purpose of getting married in the Philippines, any party who has undergone sex change through medical intervention shall be considered to be of his or her original gender.
Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer

The consent involved here is that which is given by the contracting parties themselves, and not that coming from their parents.  The consent must also be one that is real and not vitiated or defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code of the Philippines.  Examples of vices of consent are fraud, force, intimidation and undue influence.

The parties are required to appear personally before the solemnizing officer during the marriage ceremony.  Their personal appearance shall give the parties the opportunity to express either their willingness to be married, or any undue pressure on them to enter into the marriage.