Fraud grounds for annulment under the Family Code are specific. Therefore, the fraud contemplated is technical in character. Not all fraudulent schemes may qualify as grounds to annul a marriage.
You may have heard of celebrity breakups in the news. Aljur Abrenica and Kylie Padilla, for example, married last December 2018 and have two boys together. Despite the allegedly storybook ending, Kylie’s father, Robin Padilla, unexpectedly disclosed that the pair is now splitting up since Aljur was unfaithful to her at the time.
Another example was the famed singer Moira Dela Torre and her husband, songwriter Jayson Hernandez, whose three-year relationship ended in a sour note, with the cause for the split still unknown. However, regardless of the cause for a marriage’s demise, it is critical to be faithful to your partner.
A marriage according to our Civil Code is 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 and is considered as the very foundation of the family.Article 1, Family Code of the Philippines
So, what happens if your marriage is grounded with deceit and false pre tense? Are there remedies provided by law in cases of fraud and the marriage is solemnized?
What is fraud?
It is any wrongful acts done to deceive a person for his personal gain. In the Family Code, it is a ground for annulment of marriage and it refers to the non-disclosure or concealment of some facts deemed material to the marital relations. However, these frauds are specific in character to be grounds for annulment of marriage.
In some cases, it is done by a husband or wife not because he/she wanted to deceive his/ her partner but their reason was to protect the sanctity of the marriage. Nonetheless, even though such reason is for the protection of their marriage, it is still punishable and a ground for the dissolution of marriage or termination of the marital bond.
What are Fraud Grounds for Annulment of Marriage?
No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage. Consequently, any other fraudulent acts to secure the consent of the one party, or for any other reason, to enter into marriage with the actor shall not be considered as ground for annulment of marriage.
According to Art. 46 of the Family code, any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud:
Non-Disclosure of Previous Conviction
Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;
Concealment of Pregnancy
Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;
Concealment of Sexually-Transmissible Disease
Concealment of a sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or
Concealment of Drug Addiction, Habitual Alcoholism, Homosexuality or Lesbianism
Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.
What is Non-Disclosure of Previous Conviction?
A spouse in the contract of his/her marriage has the obligation to the other party to disclose any previous conviction by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude.
According to the case of In re: Basa,J. Malcolm, December 7, 1920 Moral turpitude is any act done contrary to justice, honesty, principle or good morals or an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. The term includes everything which is done contrary to justice honesty, modesty, or good morals.
The following are examples, and are not necessarily complete, of the crimes adjudged to involve moral turpitude:
Crimes involving moral turpitude are deprave in nature that cannot be concealed with your partner this is to protect the interest of both parties in marriage.
Failure to disclose such previous conviction entitles the other party to seek for the annulment of marriage. The non-disclosure of the crime must have the following requisites:
- There must be conviction of final judgment.
- The crime must involve moral turpitude
What is Concealment of Pregnancy?
Concealment of pregnancy is the act of not revealing the wife’s pregnancy from her spouse at the time the marriage has been solemnized. This means that, prior to the marriage, the would be wife has been impregnated by a man other than her would be husband. However, pregnancy alone by another man during the marriage does not provide grounds for annulment.
It is the concealment of such fact, at the time of the marriage that may constitute as ground for annulment. Hence, if the bride was not aware that she was pregnant by another man at the time of the marriage, there is no fraud. Note that what constitutes fraud under the law is concealment of pre-nuptial pregnancy by another man and not any false representation as to chastity.
There is likewise no fraud if the groom was aware or could have been aware of the bride’s pregnancy. According to the case of Buccat v. BuccatG.R. No. 47101, April 25, 1941 that if the time of the marriage, the groom was aware (or could have been aware) of the bridge’s pregnancy, there can be no fraud to annul the marriage.
The court did not find any proof that there was concealment of pregnancy constituting fraud as a ground for annulment. It was unlikely that Godofredo, a first-year law student, did not suspect anything about Luida’s condition considering that she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy (highly developed physical manifestation, ie. enlarged stomach) when they got married.
The Supreme Court, through Justice Horrilleno, ruled that:
“We see no reason to reverse the judgment appealed from. Indeed, the allegation of the plaintiff and appellant that he had not even suspected the pregnant state of the defendant, being, as has been proven, in a very advanced pregnant condition, is implausible. Therefore, there is no place to estimate the fraud that the appellant speaks of. What he alleges in the sense that it is not uncommon to find people with a developed abdomen, seems to us to be childish to deserve our consideration, all the more so since the plaintiff was a first-year law student.Ibid., Translated from Spanish
“Marriage is a most sacred institution: it is the foundation on which society rests. To annul it, clear and reliable evidence is necessary. In this matter there is no such evidence.”Ibid., Translated from Spanish
According to medical authorities, even in the 5th month of pregnancy, the enlargement of a woman’s abdomen is still below the umbilicus, that is to say, the enlargement is limited to the lower part of the abdomen so that it is hardly noticeable and may, if noticed, be attributed only to fat formation on the lower part of the abdomen.
In the case decided by the Supreme Court Aquino v. Delizo.G.R. No. L-15853, July 27, 1960 The concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband, constitutes fraud and is a ground for annulment of marriage. Delizo was allegedly to be only more than four months pregnant at the time of her marriage.
At this stage, it is hard to say that her pregnancy was readily apparent especially since she was “naturally plump” or fat. It is only on the 6th month of pregnancy that the enlargement of the woman’s abdomen reaches a height above the umbilicus, making the roundness of the abdomen more general and apparent.Ibid.
What is concealment of Sexually-Transmissible Disease?
Concealment of Sexually-Transmissible Disease: Affliction with a sexually-transmissible disease, at the time of the marriage, by itself and even without concealment, is a ground for annulment so long as the disease is serious and appears to be incurable. These are infections which are passed from one person to another through sexual intercourse.
It is very important for the spouse to know such condition because of its risk of transmission to his or her partner. If the illness is not severe and does not seem to be incurable, it is not a reason for an annulment unless the party with the illness failed to disclose it to the other party before the marriage, and the same is existing at the time of the solemnization thereof.
The proscribed concealment and not the nature of the sexually transmissible disease. Hence, the law does not differentiate between serious or non-serious and curable or incurable condition if the reason for annulment is deliberate non-revelation of a sexually-transmissible disease.
Therefore, there is no deception that will create a reason for annulment if the party with a sexually transmissible disease was unaware of its presence at the time of the marriage, albeit there may be a ground under Article 45(6) if the sickness is serious and incurable.
What are the requisites as a ground for annulment?
- The sexually-transmissible disease must have existed at the time of the celebration of the marriage.
- It must be unknown to the other party at the time of the marriage as it was concealed by the bearer.
What is Concealment of Drug Addiction, Habitual Alcoholism, Homosexuality or Lesbianism?
If the fact of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage is not concealed and is known to the other party, it is not a ground for annulment of the marriage and, likewise, not a ground for legal separation.
In legal separation, the causes or grounds thereof must necessarily exist only after the celebration of the marriage. In addition, condonation of the offense or act complained of is a defense in legal separation.
One of the most important decision you will ever make in your life is who you will marry. This sacred and sanctified vows must be in conformity with the Law and built on trust in God. That no matter what happens, the two who become one will never be parted. Throughout the marriage, the two made the solemn pledge to continue to love one another in sickness and in health.
Being honest to the person you want to marry is one of the requirements for laying a solid foundation for a family. As you move on in life, may you be reminded that there is no place for deception and unfaithfulness in a partnership, and that the two of you will become one in the eyes of the law and of God.