When I was teaching Ethics, under the topic on marriage our lesson were only limited to legal separation and divorce. I had asked some students then to research about annulment and how it differs from the two.
Legal Separation gives the spouses the right to live separately from each other, dissolves the conjugal partnership, awards the minor children to the innocent spouse and disqualifies the offending spouse from inheriting from the estate of the innocent spouse.
Grounds for Legal Separation:
1 – Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner.
2 – Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation.
3 – Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement.
4 – Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned.
5 – Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent.
6 – Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent.
7 – Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad.
8 – Sexual infidelity or perversion.
9 – Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner.
10- Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
Divorce is a dissolution of marriage that seek a judicial ruling to dissolve a valid marriage.
Grounds for a divorce are almost the same as in legal separation and varies from one country to another. Legal Separation, however cannot remarry unlike in Divorce.
Annulment refers to a marriage that is considered valid but there are grounds to nullify the marriage. However, a Declaration of Nullity of Marriage refers to a marriage that is void or invalid from the very beginning as if no marriage ever existed.
Grounds for Annulment:
1. Absence of Parental Consent. A marriage was solemnized and one or the other party was eighteen (18) years of age or over but below twenty-one (21) and consent was not given by the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority. The Petition of Annulment must be filed within five (5) years of having attained the age twenty-one. However, if the parties freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife after having reached the age of twenty-one (21) a Petition of Annulment can no longer be filed.
2. Mental Illness. One or the either party was of unsound mind at the moment of the marriage. But if the parties freely cohabited with each other after he or she came to reason the law prohibits the filing of a Petition.
3. Fraud. That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party once having knowledge of the fraud freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. The petition must be filed within five (5) of finding out the facts of the fraud.
4. That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence. Except when the same has ceased and the party filing the petition freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. The injured party must file within five (5) years from the point in time the force, intimidation or undue influence disappeared or came to an end.
5. One or the other party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable. The filing of the Petition of Annulment must be filed within five (5) years after the marriage.
6. Either party was at the time of marriage afflicted with a sexually-transmitted-disease (STD) found to be serious and seems to be incurable. This may also constitute fraud. The filing of the Petition of Annulment must be filed within five (5) years after the marriage.
SEPARATION: being separated from your spouse with or without communication is not grounds for annulment. It does not matter how many years you are separated. There is no law that annuls or voids a marriage automatically. Only a judge in a court of law can annul, void or nullify a marriage.
INFIDELITY: is not grounds for annulment.
Grounds for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage:
A – Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians; (lack of legal capacity to marry).
B – 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;
C – Those solemnized without license except if otherwise covered by other laws.
D – Those bigamous or polygamous marriages except those covered by the laws of presumption of death of the absent spouse.
E -Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other;
F – A remarriage shall be null and void if the partition and distribution of the proprieties of the spouses, the children’s’ presumptive legitimacy and the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage are not recorded in the necessary civil registry and registries of property.
G – Any psychological incapacity at the time of the marriage celebration, which prevents either the husband or wife from fulfilling the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall also be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after the solemnization.
(Psychological incapacity is not automatically lunacy but it does mean that one or both spouses have abnormal interpersonal behavior, or a psychological characteristic which inhibits the spouse to fulfill the essential obligations of marriage.)
H – Marriages between ascendants and descendants of any degree; between brothers and sisters whether full- or half-blood are incestuous and void from the beginning.
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