Primer on Concubinage, Adultery and Bigamy

The Revised Penal Code penalizes adultery, committed by a married woman, and concubinage, committed by a married man. Other than the elements of the offense and the applicable penalties, both adultery and concubinage are covered by basically the same set of rules and, therefore, would be discussed together.

What is concubinage?

Concubinage is committed by any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place. Concubinage is defined and penalized under Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:

Art. 334. Concubinage. — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.

The concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro.

What is adultery?

Adultery means the carnal relation between a married woman and a man who is not her husband, the latter knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void. Each sexual intercourse constitutes a crime of adultery. Concubinage is defined and penalized under Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:

Art. 333. Who are guilty of adultery. — Adultery is committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.

Adultery shall be punished by prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.

If the person guilty of adultery committed this offense while being abandoned without justification by the offended spouse, the penalty next lower in degree than that provided in the next preceding paragraph shall be imposed.

What are the differences between adultery and concubinage?

  1. Adultery is committed by a wife (who must also be charged together with the other man), while concubinage is committed by a husband (who must be charged together with the concubine).
  2. Proof of sexual intercourse is enough in adultery, but in concubinage, the prosecution must prove that the sexual intercourse must be under scandalous circumstances, or that the husband kept a mistress in the conjugal dwelling or cohabited with her in any other place.
  3. The penalty for concubinage is lower than that of adultery. The penalty for the concubine is only destierro, while the penalty for the man other in adultery is the same as that of the guilty wife.

What is destierro?

Destierro means banishment or only a prohibition from residing within the radius of 25 kilometers from the actual residence of the accused for a specified length of time. It is not imprisonment.

Who can file the action for adultery or concubinage?

Only the offended spouse can legally file the complaint for adultery or concubinage. Adultery and concubinage are considered private crimes. These crimes cannot not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse — and nobody else.

Can parents and grandparents file the case?

No. Unlike the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, there is no provision for the prosecution of the crimes of adultery and concubinage by the parents, grandparents or guardian of the offended party.

What if the case was filed after the spouses divorced or after the marriage was annulled?

The marital status must be present at the time of filing the criminal action. In other words, the offended spouse must still be married to the accused spouse at the time of the filing of the complaint. Considering that only the legal spouse can file the complaint, the grant of divorce or annulment removes the right to file an action for adultery or concubinage that was committed prior to the divorce or annulment.

Who must be prosecuted?

The offended party cannot institute the criminal charge without including both guilty parties (the offending spouse and the paramour), if both are alive.

What is the effect of consent or pardon by the offended spouse?

The criminal charge cannot prosper if the offended spouse has consented to the offense or pardoned the offenders. Pardon can be express or implied. An example of express pardon is when the offended party in writing or in an affidavit asserts that he or she is pardoning his or her erring spouse and paramour for their act. There is implied pardon when the offended party continued to live with his spouse even after the commission of the offense. Pardon must come before the institution of the criminal action and both offenders must be pardoned by the offended party.

What is bigamy?

Bigamy is basically the act of marrying again while the first marriage is still subsisting. It is defined under Article 349 of the RPC as the contracting of a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceeding.

What are the elements that must be proved in a prosecution for bigamy?

In a case for bigamy, all the following matters or “elements” must be shown by the prosecution:

1. The offender has been legally married.
2. The marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code.
3. He/she contracts a second or subsequent marriage.
4. The second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.

A pending petition for annulment or a declaration of nullity of marriage does not have any effect on a criminal case for bigamy. Refer to our previous discussion on this.

How is bigamy different from adultery/concubinage?

In adultery/concubinage, the law requires that both culprits, if both are alive, should he prosecuted or included in the information. In bigamy, the second spouse could be charged only if she/he had knowledge of the previous undissolved marriage of the accused. Bigamy is a public offense and a crime against status, while adultery and concubinage are private offenses and are crimes against chastity. In adultery/concubinage, pardon by the offended party will bar the prosecution of the case, which is not so in bigamy.

What if I killed or injured my spouse when I caught him/her in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person?

The law provides that “any legally married person who, having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro” (RPC, Article 247). The accused spouse, which could be the husband or the wife, must prove the following:

  1. A legally married person (or a parent) surprises his spouse (or his daughter, under 18 years of age and living with him), in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person.
  2. He or she kills any or both of them or inflicts upon any or both of them any serious physical injury in the act or immediately thereafter.
  3. He has not promoted or facilitated the prostitution of his wife (or daughter) or that he or she has not consented to the infidelity of the other spouse.

The accused must proved that he/she actually surprised the other spouse in flagrante delicto (or in the act of doing the deed), and that he/she killed the other spouse and/or the other party during or immediately thereafter.

Sources: Revised Penal Code; People vs. Nepomuceno, G.R. No. L-40624, 27 June 1975; Pilapil vs. Ibay-Somera, G.R. No. 80116, 30 June 1989; Ligtas vs. CA, G.R. No. L-47498, 7 May 1987; People vs. Puedan, G.R. No. 139576, 2 September 2002; People vs. Bastasa, G.R. No. L-32792, 2 February 1979

96 comments

  1. Nagsasama po kmi ng asawa ko pero nagkkita po pla cla ng patago ng kanyang kabit nabuntis po ung kabit nya at nanganak kailan ko lamang po ito nlaman anu po b ang pwede ko ikaso sa kanilang dalawa dalaga po ung babae

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    1. Kelangan yung mama mo ang mag-file ng concubinage kung may evidence sya na nagsasama sa iisang bubong ang papa mo at kabit nya or may sexual intercourse sila in a scandalous manner. Private crime kasi ito, pag ayaw ng mama mo silang kasuhan, eh di ligtas na sa parusa ang dalawang may sala.

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  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Good day puede po mag ask Kung puede Ba mapauwi Ang dalawang imoral Na andto nag tatrabaho sa Saudi parehong me asawa at mga anak sa pinas nag Kita at nag motel sila nung bago umuwi ng babae sa pinas…NASA dammam Ang lalaki at nag punta Lang sa Riyadh para maisiping Ang babae pareho parin silang may contact !! Ang babae at nag pamuslim dto sa ryadh

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  4. Hi po ask ko lng po.may friend po ako na girl at may asawa syang foreinger..ung guy po may friend na girl,at lagi nia po itong pinapadalhan ng pera,tulong daw po sa kaibigan nia dahil hirap sa buhay..pwede po ba nyang kasuhan ung kaibigan ng asawa nia?ask lng po

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  5. Ask ko lng po nsa doha.qatar husband ko po ngawwork.ngyn my kinakasama sya na filipina.ngyn po my anak na cla na mg 2yrs old na ang bata.kami po ay kasal.ano po gawain ko sa kanila na kaso.
    Thank you

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  6. Hi! Tatanung lang po akao.. kasal kmi ng asawa q since 2013 at naghiwalay kmi ng July 2016 kc nahuli ko xia na may dinadalang babae sa apartment na tinutuluyan namin dati at hnggng ngaun ay sila pdin nung babae at nagsasama na cla sa iisang bhay, inamin ndin kc ng asawa q xken ang lht lahat ng 2ngkol sa knla ng kabit nya.. and ung mga txt nya ng pag.amin sken ay ndi q dinidelete.. at ung mga picture na inaupload nung kabit nya sa facebook ay nsken din.. pde q ba clang kasuhan??

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  7. what if they are not legally married but living together for many years and then the man cohabit the neighbors wife… what will be the case then?

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    1. will there be a criminal or administrative liability if a lesbian and a married woman with 2 kids are living together as husband and wife and are both government employees…will they also be charge by the civil service commission?

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  8. ask ko lng po ano po pde ifile n case ng mama ko s aking ama n my patagong relasyon s aking pinsan n ngayon po ay buntis n…

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