SC asserts US husband’s right to sue Filipino wife for marriage annulment – Manila Bulletin

Supreme Court (CS)

Can a US citizen married to a Filipina file a marriage annulment petition in the Philippines where the ceremony was performed?

In 2013, a chamber of the Regional Court of First Instance (RTC) of Quezon City rejected, after the trial, the petition filed by the American husband in 2007 on the alleged psychological incapacity of his Filipino wife. They married in the Philippines in 2005.

The RTC rejected the request on the grounds that the husband did not have the legal capacity to sue.

The trial court ruled that the nationality principle set out in Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that the husband, a US citizen, is not covered by Philippine laws on family rights and duties, status and status. legal capacity.

She also dismissed the husband’s notice of appeal on the grounds that he had not filed a request for reconsideration. The husband took the matter to the SC which ruled in his favor.

(The names of the husband and wife involved in the case have been deleted by the Manila Bulletin to respect and protect their privacy.)

While the husband’s direct recourse to the SC had procedural problems, the High Court relaxed the rules to promote substantial justice and considered the nature and issues raised in the petition.

The SC overturned the RTC’s decision by granting the husband’s request in a decision released on November 16 and written by Associate Judge Samuel H. Gaerlan.

The decision ordered that the case be referred to the RTC “for further legal proceedings and judgment on the merits”.

The decision upheld the husband’s argument that “the legal capacity to marry and its consequences, including the annulment of the void marriage, are governed by the law of the place where the marriage was contracted and not by the principle of marriage. the nationality “.

The CS stated that “the validity of a contract is governed by the place where it is concluded, performed or to be performed”.

“It is respected by Philippine law, as stated in the first paragraph of article 26 of the Family Code, namely: Art. 26. All marriages celebrated outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were celebrated, and valid as such, will also be valid in that country, with the exception of those prohibited… ”such as incestuous or bigamous marriages, he mentioned.

“In other words, a marriage formally valid in the place where it is celebrated is valid in the Philippines,” he stressed.

He also said:

“Applied to this controversy, the marriage between the parties having been celebrated in the Philippines, is governed by Philippine laws. The same laws apply to its incidents and consequences.

“Thus, all questions relating to the validity of the marriage contract, such as the presence or absence of conditions, forms or solemnities must be judged against the law in which it was celebrated or performed.

“In this sense, it is useful to specify that when the marriage is celebrated elsewhere, its validity does not depend entirely on foreign law. Although accepted in the jurisdiction where it is celebrated, it can be declared invalid in the Philippines when it comes under the cases mentioned in para. 1, article 26 of the Family Code such as incestuous or bigamous marriages.

Likewise, regardless of the place where the marriage is celebrated, Philippine laws are binding on the contracting Philippine citizen with regard to ‘family rights and duties, status, status and legal capacity’; any resulting controversy would then have to be resolved in accordance with the same law.

“Here there is no doubt that the action concerns the validity of the marriage celebrated in the Philippines. The action of the applicant (husband) attacks the psychological inability of the respondent (wife) to fulfill essential marital obligations.

“Ultimately, therefore, the result of the action would have an effect on the personal status of the respondent. With this, there is no reason to exclude the right of the petitioner to institute the instantaneous petition for annulment of marriage.

On the lack of legal capacity to prosecute, the SC said:

“The inability to act is distinguished from the lack of legal personality to act while the first refers to the general inability of a plaintiff to bring an action, the second refers to the fact that the plaintiff is not the real one. interested party.

“A genuine interested party is someone who has a substantial interest in the matter due to the violation of a legal right.

“The ‘lack of legal capacity to prosecute’ and the ‘lack of legal personality’ to prosecute are both affirmative defenses. In the first, the ground is “that the plaintiff does not have the legal capacity to sue”, while in the second, the ground is based on the fact “that the document arguing the claim does not mention any cause action ”.

“On the basis of the foregoing, it is clear that the applicant has both the legal capacity and the personality to act. His legal personality arises from the fact that it is his marriage to the respondent, which in turn relates to his civil status, which risks being affected by the application for nullity that he has filed. He has legal personality in the action because he has a personal and material interest in the result of the action.

“Regarding his legal capacity to sue, the statement as to who can bring an action for annulment of marriage does not distinguish between Filipino citizens and foreigners.

“In view of the above, the BTI should not therefore have closed the case for lack of legal capacity of action of the applicant. In doing so, it failed to resolve the questions of fact necessary to determine whether the marriage between the parties should be annulled on the basis of psychological incapacity.

“Considering that a petition for review on certiorari is limited to questions of law and that the Court is not a trier of fact, the referral of this case to the BTI for the appropriate resolution of this case on the merits is the most appropriate.

“Consequently, the decision of February 13, 2013 and the order of April 8, 2013 of the regional court of first instance (RTC) of branch 89 of Quezon City, in civil case No. Q-07-60216, are REVERSE and CANCELED. The case is REFERRED to the RTC for further proceedings and a judgment on the merits. SO ORDINARY.


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