Grounds for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage in the Philippines

Declaration of nullity and annulment are used interchangeably by lay people, but these two concepts are different. Declaration of nullity refers to a marriage which is void from the very beginning, while annulment refers to a marriage that is valid until annulled by a court. There are separate grounds for declaration of nullity of marriage (see below), annulment of marriage, and legal separation. 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. [Article 35(1), Family Code]

2. Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so. [Article 35(2), Family Code]

3. Those solemnized without license, except those covered the preceding Chapter. [Article 35(3), Family Code; see also Marriages Exempted from Marriage License]

4. Those bigamous or polygamous marriages, except in cases of presumptive death of the previous spouse. [Article 35(4), Family Code]

5. Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other. [Article 35(5), Family Code]

6. Those subsequent marriages that are void because the judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the previous marriage, the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses and the delivery of the children’s presumptive legitimes were NOT recorded in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property [Article 35(6), in relation to Article 53, of the Family Code]

7. Psychological incapacity [Article 36, Family Code]. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. [See Guidelines for Psychological Incapacity]

8. Incestuous marriages [Article 37, Family Code]. Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:

  • a. Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and
  • b. Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood. 

9. Void by reason of Public Policy [Article 38, Family Code]. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:

  • a. Between collateral blood relatives whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
  • b. Between step-parents and step-children;
  • c. Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;
  • d. Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;
  • e. Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;
  • f. Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;
  • g. Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;
  • h. Between adopted children of the same adopter; and
  • i. Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person’s spouse, or his or her own spouse. 

The action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe (Article 39, Family Code). In all cases of declaration of absolute nullity 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.

P&L Law

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