There is a misconception about a marriage certificate (marriage contract). Most non-lawyers are of the erroneous impression that the absence of this certificate will render the marriage void. On the contrary, it will not.
In order to have a valid marriage, all the essential and formal requisites set forth in the Family Code of the Philippines must be present.
The essential requisites of marriage are enumerated in Article 2 of the Family Code, which provides:
“Article 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:
“(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and
“(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.”
The formal requisites of marriage, on the other hand, are enumerated in Article 3 of the Family Code, which provides:
“Article 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
“(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
“(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
“(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.”
While the effect of the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites of marriage is found in Article 4 of the Family Code, which provides:
“Article 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio xxx.”
A reading of these provisions will reveal that a marriage certificate is neither an essential nor a formal requisite of marriage.
Thus, the absence of the marriage certificate, or the mere failure of the contracting parties to affix their signatures on the certificate, will not render the marriage void.
This holds true for the failure of the solemnizing officer to send copies of the marriage certificate to the local civil registrar, or in case of its non-existence in the records of either the local civil registrar or the Office of the Civil Registrar General/National Statistics Office, or both.
If at all, the marriage certificate merely serves as the best evidence to prove the existence of the marriage.
Nevertheless, in the absence of the marriage certificate, the existence of the marriage may be proven by some other forms of evidence, namely: the testimonies of witnesses, land titles, declaration of one of the contracting parties, last will and testament, and by the legal presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.
That said, the mistaken notion or idea about a marriage certificate should now be laid to rest.