Terminable bigamous marriages

In bigamous marriages, there are at least two (2) contracts of marriage. When a person enters into another of contract of marriage while his first marriage subsists, there is bigamy. Aside from the criminal liability of the offender, bigamy also has effects on the validity of the second marriage.

In civil law, the bigamous character of a marriage is terminable by, among other causes, the death of the first spouse, making a subsequent marriage valid. "Among other causes" may include the subsequent declaration of nullity or annulment of the first marriage. It may also include the subsequent declaration of presumptive death of the other spouse in the first marriage. However, in criminal law, such fact of causes does not preclude prosecution for bigamy.

On a final note, the Family Code of the Philippines (EO 209) classifies bigamous marriages as "void marriages. Article 35 provides, "The following marriages shall be void from the beginning: (1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians; xxx (4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not failing under Article 41; xxx."

Castillo v. De Leon Castillo (G.R. No. 189607; April 18, 2016): As a matter of policy, therefore, the nullification of a marriage for the purpose of contracting another cannot be accomplished merely on the basis of the perception of both parties or of one that their union is so defective with respect to the essential requisites of a contract of marriage as to render it void ipso jure and with no legal effect - and nothing more. Were this so, this inviolable social institution would be reduced to a mockery and would rest on very shaky foundations indeed. And the grounds for nullifying marriage would be as diverse and far-ranging as human ingenuity and fancy could conceive. For such a socially significant institution, an official state pronouncement through the courts, and nothing less, will satisfy the exacting norms of society. Not only would such an open and public declaration by the courts definitively confirm the nullity of the contract of marriage, but the same would be easily verifiable through records accessible to everyone. (Chief Justice Sereno)

Popular Posts