Published 15 September 2023, The Daily Tribune
The Family Code requires couples to obtain a marriage license from the local civil registrar of the city or municipality where either of the contracting parties habitually reside prior to the solemnization of their marriage. Without this marriage license, the marriage will be void. However, this rule is not absolute. The Family Code provides exemptions to the marriage license requirement. These are the following:
The exemptions provided by law are clear. Therefore, no deviations are allowed for these exemptions to apply. Among the four exemptions, the third exemption requires more elaboration.
For a man and woman who have lived together for five years to enjoy this exemption, they must have had no legal impediment to marry each other throughout the entire five-year period. In other words, the man and woman must have been at least 18 years old and had the free legal capacity to marry each other during the five-year cohabitation period.
By way of illustration, if a couple cohabited when they were 16 years old and decided to get married when they turned 21 years old, they are required to obtain a marriage license. In this case, the parties were minors during their first two years of cohabitation. Hence, there was a legal impediment to marrying each other during the five-year cohabitation period. The conclusion would be the same even if only the woman was 16 years old during their first two years of cohabitation because the law is clear that both parties must have had no legal impediment to marrying each other during the five-year cohabitation period.
If a man and woman lived together for five years, but during the first year, they lived together as mere roommates in an apartment near their workplace, the exemption will not apply. The law is clear that the parties must have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years prior to the solemnization of their marriage.
If a man was annulled by his former wife on his third year of cohabiting with his current partner, the man and his partner are required to obtain a marriage license if they decide to get married after five years of cohabitation. The law is clear that the parties must have had no legal impediment to marry each other during the entire five-year period. In this scenario, the man was married to another woman during his first three years of cohabitation with his current partner.
Overall, the third exemption to the marriage license requirement must be strictly construed. No deviations are allowed. In case of any doubt, it is strongly recommended that a couple still obtain a marriage license prior to the solemnization of their marriage.