Doubtful paternity not ground for annulment of marriage

March 15, 2016 11:14 pm
Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I found out that my wife is still meeting her former boyfriend through the pictures posted on the social media account of our common friend. I have also some doubts if I am really the father of our first child considering that I cannot see any semblance of myself in this child. Can I file an annulment case based on these grounds?    

Dear Leonardo,
The grounds for declaring a marriage null and void are those provided under the Family Code of the Philippines, which are as follows:

“Section 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

(1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians;

(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either[party] or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so;

(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding chapter;

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;

(5) Those contracted through mistake on one contracting party as to the identity of the other; and

(6) Those subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53.”

Aside from the abovementioned enumeration, the following are also grounds for declaring a marriage void: psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage (Article 36, Ibid.), incestuous marriages (Article 37, Id.) and those marriages which are considered void for reasons of public policy (Article 38, Id.).

In your situation, doubt as to the paternity of your child and sexual infidelity or adultery are not included as grounds for annulment. The sexual infidelity of your wife, however, if proven, is one ground for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines. If, in case, there was concealment by your wife of the fact that at the time of your marriage, she was pregnant by another man, then this will constitute fraud, which could be a ground for annulment of marriage under Article 45 (3), Id.

The Supreme Court enunciated in Dedel vs CA(G.R. No. 151867, January 29, 2004) that: “Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological incapacity. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity or sexual promiscuity.”

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to

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