Republic v. Albios (G.R. No. 198780; October 16, 2013)


FACTS: On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married, as evidenced by a Certificate of Marriage. On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage with Fringer, alleging that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as husband and wife because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state or complying with any of their essential marital obligations.

Fringer did not file his answer. On September 13, 2007, Albios filed a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief. After the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did not attend the hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule.

The RTC declared the marriage void ab initio. The RTC opined that the parties married each other for convenience only. Albios stated that she contracted Fringer to enter into a marriage to enable her to acquire American citizenship and that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of $2,000.00. However, she did not pay Fringer $2,000.00 because the latter never processed her petition for citizenship

The OSG filed an appeal before the CA. The CA affirmed the RTC ruling which found that the essential requisite of consent was lacking.
ISSUE: Is a marriage contracted for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship void ab initio on the ground of lack of consent?

HELD: In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, established the principal test for determining the presence of marriage fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a arriage is a sham if the bride and groom did not intend to establish a life together at the time they were married.This standard was modified with the passage of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment of 1986 (IMFA), which now requires the couple to instead demonstrate that the marriage was not ntered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States.The focus, thus, shifted from determining the intention to establish a life together, to determining the intention of evading immigration laws. It must be noted, however, that this standard is used purely for immigration purposes and, therefore, does not purport to rule on the legal validity or existence of a marriage.

In the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines, which declared as valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to gain entry to the United States, stating that a valid marriage could not be avoided erely because the marriage was entered into for a limited purpose.The 1980 immigration case of Matter of McKee, further recognized that a fraudulent or sham marriage was intrinsically different from a nonsubsisting one.

Under Article 2 of the Family Code, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2) made in the presence of a solemnizing officer. A reely given consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation, and undue influence. Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial or unfavorable consequences of their act.

Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of consent. Their consent was also conscious and intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and inconvenient consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired their ability to do so. That their consent was freely given is best evidenced by their conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the marriage. There was a clear intention to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an application for citizenship. There was a full and complete understanding of the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie which was necessary to accomplish their goal. GRANTED.