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.