Annulment and declaration of nullity are used interchangeably by lay persons, but these two concepts are different. Annulment refers to a marriage that is valid until annulled by a court, while declaration of nullity refers to a marriage which is void from the very beginning. There are separate grounds for annulment of marriage (enumerated below), declaration of nullity of marriage, and legal separation.
A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage [see also Prescriptive period or when the action must be filed]:
1. The party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was over 18 years of age but below 21, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife [Article 45(1), Family Code]. When either party is below 18 years of age, see Grounds for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.
3. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife [Article 45(1), Family Code]. Any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud, and no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud [Article 46, Family Code]:
- a. Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;
- b. Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;
- c. Concealment of sexually transmissible disease (STD), regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or
- d. Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.
4. The consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife [Article 45(4), Family Code].
5. Either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable [Article 45(5), Family Code]. This is also called impotence.
In all cases of annulment of marriage, the court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed (Article 48, Family Code). This is called the collusion investigation.