By Oscar V. Cruz
FOR a start, it is not only right but even necessary to address the rather big distinction between “Marriage Annulment” and “Marriage Nullity”. Reason: They are radically different in terms of the nature and implications of “Annulment” and “Nullity”. Briefly stated, the said “Annulment” has reference to a marriage that is considered valid at the time of its factual celebration but subsequently invalidated by the State for a given cause as provided by Civil Law. On the other hand, the said “Nullity” has relevance to a marriage held in fact but declared invalid from its very celebration date on account of proven reasons or causes then already existent, and wherefore accordingly evaluated as such by either Civil Law and/or Church Law. And while Civil Law through the Family Code of the Philippines has provisions for both “Marriage Annulment” as well as “Marriage Nullity”, the Church through the Code of Canon Law has but norms on “Marriage Nullity”.
In other words, in “Marriage Annulment”, the invalidating cause is a fact proven existent even after the marriage has been held long before. And this is why, the marriage is valid from the beginning but later on invalidated by reason of a supervening factor. In “Marriage Nullity”, the invalidating factor is proven already existent at the time itself of the wedding. And this is why it is adjudged as null and void from its very start – which is formally called “Marriage Nullity Declaration”. For Civil Law, although a marriage is valid from its beginning, the same can still be invalidated or nullified for a given cause after the wedding. For Church Law, once a marriage is valid from its very start, valid it remains during the lifetime of the spouses.
The intrinsic nature of marriage which is not subject to the likes and/or dislikes of the man and woman concerned. The personal consent to marriage which should be free and deliberate. The individual persons of the Contracting Parties who must be capable of entering into the Marriage Covenant with its inherent purposes or finalities. These can be considered as the tripod of marriage in terms of objectivity (nature), integrality (consent) and capability (persons). The moment it is duly established by the required administrative or judicial procedures that anyone of the said three integrating factors is defective such as falsely understood (nature) and/or not freely or deliberately given (consent) and/or impaired in socio-affective constitution (persons), the de facto marriage is ab initio invalid and wherefore deserving of “Marriage Nullity Declaration”.
“The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own nature is ordered for the well-being of the spouses and for the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a Sacrament.” (Canon 1055, par. 1 CIC)
Who says that marriage is an easy state of life?
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