Brenda, a Pinay tourist in the US, married her cousin’s friend Doug, a US citizen, while on vacation in Florida. A few months after the wedding, the couple traveled back to the Philippines to break the news to Brenda’s parents. Sadly though, her parents vehemently opposed their daughter’s rash decision to marry a person they hardly know. Because of the sad turn of events, Doug traveled back to the US on his own, leaving Brenda to deal with her family’s shock and disapproval.
Brenda and Doug never got the chance to see each other again. Soon enough, the incessant email exchanges and nightly phone calls between the newlyweds slowly dwindled to brief text messages and unreturned missed calls. Before long, Brenda met a new guy at work and quickly fell in love. This time, she knew he was “the one”. She introduced him to her parents who immediately approved of their budding romance. Less than a year later, she was, again, busy planning her wedding.
“Di ba kasal ka na sa U.S.?” asked one of Brenda’s aunts.
“Oo, pero hindi naman niya pinarehistro dito sa Pilipinas yung kasal niya. So single pa din siya dito.” came Brenda’s Mom’s firm reply.
Could this be true? Can one simply disregard a marriage solemnized in another country by not declaring it before a Local Civil Registry office? Can you be married in one country and single in another?
We received this same question from an avid reader and thought it wise to find out if overseas marriages are not considered valid in our country. Below are our findings:
Lex Loci Celebrationis
This is the rule we follow for marriages celebrated abroad between two Filipinos or a Filipino and a person of different citizenship. The Latin phrase translates to “law of the place of the ceremony”.
This means that the Philippines recognizes a marriage celebrated or solemnized in a different country as long as it follows the requirements set by the law of that state. Hence, if the marriage is deemed valid in that country, it is then deemed valid in the Philippines, even if it did not comply with the procedures and requirements set the Family Code of the Philippines.
Exceptions to the Rule
Article 26 of the Family Code excludes the following prohibited marriages:
- Cases where a party is below eighteen years old at the time of marriage;
- A party is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;
- Mistake in identity of a spouse;
- Subsequent marriages celebrated without properly terminating, liquidating, and distributing the properties of a previous marriage;
- Bigamous or polygamous marriages;
- Incestuous marriages;
- Void marriages for reason of public policy such as marriage between collateral blood relatives up to fourth civil degree or between step-parent and step-child.
If the marriage abroad does not fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions, then it is considered valid in the Philippines.
But the marriage was not registered in the Philippines
The marriage’s validity is not at all affected by the fact that it was not properly registered in the Philippines. For as long as it is considered valid in the country where it was celebrated, the marriage is deemed valid in the Philippines as well. Registering a marriage is done to simply record an event affecting the civil status of the persons involved; it serves as evidence of the act or occurrence. Its absence does not invalidate the marriage.
Can Brenda continue with her plans of marrying her Filipino boyfriend?
If we are to apply the principles of Lex Loci Celebrationis, Brenda is no longer free to marry another person, in the US or here in the Philippines. And the only way she can regain her single status and be able to marry another person is if Doug, being the US citizen, files for divorce abroad.
We hope you found these information helpful. If you have questions about civil registration in the Philippines, please feel free to drop us a line and we will do our best to find the answers for you.
www.gov.ph (The Family Code of the Philippines)