Effect on Marriage if Mayor, as Solemnizing Officer, was actually Absent during the Civil Ceremony

We received a query if a marriage is rendered invalid by reason of a perceived problem in the authority of the solemnizing officer, which is the legal term for the person who “officiates” or “presides” over the marriage ceremony. There are a number of variations of this query and we’ll be using this as an illustration, with a general discussion below (as always, please be reminded that this is not a legal opinion and check with your retained counsel for specific legal advice). The query goes:

The mayor was absent during the marriage ceremony and only his assistant conducted the marriage (proxy). However, the mayor has a signature on the marriage certificate. Is the marriage valid even if the mayor was absent?

As usual, we shall allow everyone to have a free range in having an academic discussion on this topic. We shall come back later to give our own view on the matter. In the meantime, we note that Article 7 of the Family Code enumerates the solemnizing officers in marriage. It reads:

Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by:

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court’s jurisdiction;

(2) Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect duly authorized by his church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted him by his church or religious sect and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect;

(3) Any ship captain or airplane chief only in the cases mentioned in Article 31;

(4) Any military commander of a unit to which a chaplain is assigned, in the absence of the latter, during a military operation, likewise only in the cases mentioned in Article 32; or

(5) Any consul general, consul or vice consul in the case provided in Article 10.

The authority of the solemnizing officer is a formal requisite of marriage. As previously noted, the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, while an irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.

In other words, based on the question posed above, the central issue is this: Is the absence of the mayor a mere irregularity or is it considered an absence of a formal requisite of marriage?

We will expand the discussions on each of the solemnizing officers (could be in this post or a separate post). Let’s have the basic points for each:

Member of the Judiciary

Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court’s jurisdiction.

Priest, Rabbi, Imam, or Minister

Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect duly authorized by his church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted him by his church or religious sect and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect.

Ship Captain or Airplane Pilot

Any ship captain or airplane chief can solemnize a marriage ONLY when the following circumstances concur: (a) the marriage is between passengers or crew member; (b) the marriage is in articulo mortis; and (c) the ship is at sea or the plane is in flight, or during stopovers at ports of call. (Family Code, Art. 31)

Military Commander

Any military commander of a unit can solemnize marriages in two situations: (1) when a chaplain is assigned and the chaplain is absent, during a military operation; or (2) a military commander who is a commissioned officer, in marriage in articulo mortis between persons within the zone of military operation, whether members of the armed forces or civilians. (Family Code, Art. 32)

Consuls

Marriages between Filipino citizens abroad may be solemnized by a consul general, consul or vice consul of the Republic of the Philippines. The issuance of the marriage license and the duties of the local civil registrar and of the solemnizing officer with regard to the celebration of marriage shall be performed by said consular official. (Family Code, Art. 10)

32 comments

  1. ikinasal kami nung january 1998 pero po june 1998 pa siya mag 18yrs old.void po ba ung kasal namin.kahit may parent consent

    salamat po makakasagot

    1. The marriage is null and void due to the absence of one of the essential requisites of valid marriage which the legal capacity of the contracting parties. One of the parties during the celebration of marriage is incapacitated to give consent or contract marriage due to the minority or being not eighteen years old and above.

  2. For me it will be void ab initio the formal requisite of a valid marriage ceremony is absent why? though we know that there are no prescribed forms or religious rites it is necessary that the contracting parties should appear personally in the presence of the duly authorized solemnizing officer together with 2 witnesses of legal age in this case the contracting parties did not appear personally in the presence of the duly authorized solemnizing officer which is the mayor what happened here was just a mere signing of marriage contract.

    1. u mean separated as in legally separated? no way they are still in bond of marriage hindi pwd.. but if u mean annulled or null and void marriage then after the courts final decision the husband can remarry however on the part of the wife she has to count 301 days after court decision as per my research. EO 209

  3. Authorize po bang mag kasal ang mayor nung taong 2012.. valid po ba ung kasal na un khit mayor lang ang nag kasal..?? Thank you sana masagotan nio po..

    1. @Mencelle – Yes, valid po. The mayor has authority to solemnize marriage under the Local Government Code of 1991.

      1. but ang mayor po ay absent at the time of ceremony. the law provides that a marriage ceremony is necessary which takes place with the appearance of the contracting party before the solemnizing officer (article 3 of the family code).

  4. @Robeth –

    I am answering Mencelle’s query. She said “mayor lang ang nag kasal”. Nowhere in her statement was it it stated that the mayor was absent. Can you enlighten me which part of Mencelle’s statement are you referring to?

  5. pano po kung kinasal sa loob ng city hall at ang nagkasal e born again na pastor pero pareho po kaming katoliko at nung kinasal po kami wala yung mismong mayor ng city hall? Pwede po bang mapawalang bisa yung kasal non?pano din po malalaman kung authorized yung pastor na magkasal? Thank you so much po.

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