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Marriage is defined as "[a] special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by the Family Code."<ref>Family Code, Sec. 2</ref> Marriage is "an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State".<ref>Constitution, Art. XV, Sec. 2</ref>

A valid marriage is essential in order to create the relation of husband and wife and to give rise to the mutual rights, duties, and liabilities arising out of such relation. The law prescribes the requisites of a valid marriage. Hence, the validity of a marriage is tested according to the law in force at the time the marriage is contracted.<ref>Ablaza vs. Republic, G.R. No. 158298, 11 August 2010</ref> Before the effectivity of the Family Code on 3 August 1988, the applicable law governing the validity of marriage is the Civil Code.

Requisites under the Family Code

The requisites of marriage under the Family Code are classified either as essential or formal. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present: (a) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and (b) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.<ref>Family Code, Art. 2</ref> The formal requisites of marriage are: (1) Authority of the solemnizing officer; (2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; 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.<ref>Family Code, Art. 3</ref> The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2). A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as provided in Article 45. An irregularity in the formal 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.<ref>Family Code, Art. 4</ref>

Under Article 53 of the Civil Code, no marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with: (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties; (2) Their consent, freely given; (3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and (4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.

Legal capacity of the contracting parties, which must be male and female

Any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the specified impediments may contract marriage.<ref>Family Code, Art.5</ref> The law specifically provides that marriage is only between a male and a female, which necessarily means that same-sex marriage is not allowed. In an obiter dictum, the Supreme Court briefly touched on this issue in deciding a petition for change of name and sex.<ref>Silverio vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 174689, 22 October 2007</ref> According to the SC, one of the most sacred social institutions is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman, referring to the institution of marriage. One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female. To grant the changes sought — including the change of gender as reflected in the birth certificate from "male" to "female" — "will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual)."

A valid marriage license

To be considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties.<ref>Alcantara vs. Alcantara, G.R. No. 167746, 28 August 2007</ref> In Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals,<ref>G.R. No.103047, 2 September 1994, 236 SCRA 257, 262, cited in Alcantara vs. Alcantara, G.R. No. 167746, 28 August 2007</ref> the certification of "due search and inability to find" a record or entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by the Civil Registrar, enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. In Cariño vs. Cariño,<ref>G.R. No.132529, 2 February 2001, 351 SCRA 127, 133, cited in Alcantara vs. Alcantara, G.R. No. 167746, 28 August 2007</ref> the records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil Registrar, their office has no record of such marriage license. The court held that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the marriage of the petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio. In Sy vs. Court of Appeals,<ref>386 Phil. 760, 769 (2000), cited in Alcantara vs. Alcantara, G.R. No. 167746, 28 August 2007</ref> the marriage license was issued almost one year after the ceremony took place, which means that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license.

A marriage ceremony with the appearance of the contracting parties

See also: Annulment | Divorce