10 requisites of a valid marriage

Marriage is a legally-governed special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. (Article 1 of Executive Order [EO] No. 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines)

Marriage has requisites not required of other contracts. Article 2 says: No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present: (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 formal requisites of marriage are: (1) AUTHORITY of the solemnizing officer; (2) A valid MARRIAGE LICENSE; and (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. (Article 3)

Therefore, based on the above, there are ten (10) requisites of a valid marriage. They are:

  1. Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
  2. Number of parties, which is only two;
  3. Sex of the parties, which is male and female;
  4. Consent to marry;
  5. An officer solemnizing the marriage;
  6. Authority of the solemnizing officer;
  7. A valid marriage license;
  8. A ceremony;
  9. Appearance of the parties before the solemnizer;
  10. Personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife; and
  11. Two witnesses.

It can also be said that requisite 9 and 10 above can be subsumed under requisite 8 (ceremony).

Legal capacity refers not only to the legal age but also to the mental capacity of the contracting parties. A person suffering from a mental defect that disturbs his ability to comprehend the nature of the contract or perform his essential marital obligations can be said to vitiate consent and goes into a person's incapacity.

Minority, insanity or imbecility, the state of being a deaf-mute, prodigality and civil interdiction are mere restrictions on capacity to act. xxx The following circumstances, among others, modify or limit capacity to act: age, insanity, imbecility, the state of being a deaf-mute, penalty, prodigality, family relations, alienage, absence, insolvency and trusteeship. (Articles 38 and 39 of Republic Act [RA] No. 386 or the [New] Civil Code of the Philippines)

The number and sexes of the contracting parties are easy to understand. Bigamy/polygamy is not allowed in the Philippines and same-sex marriage is not yet statutorily recognized as having the same legal effect as traditional marriage.

Being a contract, consent is required in marriage. Therefore, vitiated consent results in it being voidable. Lack of consent makes it void.

There must be a solemnizing officer and such officer must be authorized to officiate a marriage. The law has a list of those authorized to do so. The absence of a solemnizing officer makes the marriage void. However, lack of authority may be interpreted as a mere irregularity, depending on the circumstances of each case. A separate discussion on this matter will be uploaded soon.

There must be a valid marriage license issued by the local civil registrar's office. However, no license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties are found no legal impediment to the marriage. (Article 34)

There must be a ceremony. A ceremony is a mere formal requisite, yes, but its absence will render the marriage void. This is an example of a good custom that has been codified into written law. In the ceremony, the contracting parties must personally appear and each declare that they take each other as husband and wife.

At least two (2) witnesses are required. The total absence of a witness will render the marriage void. If there is only one (1) witness, this may be viewed as an irregularity which does not affect the validity of the marriage.

The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio. A defect in any of the essential requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable. (Article 4)