According to the Family Code of the Philippines, marriages may take place without a license. And this is expounded on the Code’s second chapter. This chapter specifies the situations in which marriages could be conducted, honored, and considered legal, even without having the couple face a local civil registrar. This type of marriage is said to be performed in “articulo mortis”.
One of the first unique situations cited is when either the man or the woman, or both, are dying. Of course, few people could imagine themselves being wed a few hours before the grim reaper takes them. At any rate, the marriage remains valid, even if one of the couple, either husband or wife, cheats death.
A second situation is when it is physically impossible for both or either of the party to present themselves before a local civil registrar. This happens when there is no means of transportation available to the marrying couple. Whoever is the solemnizing officer of the marriage, he must make affidavits that indeed, the barrio where the couple is residing is inaccessible. He should also make sure that both parties are legally able (no current wife or husband) to enter marriage. Then, he must send the affidavit, together with marriage contract, within 30 days, to the nearest municipality.
An “articulo mortis” marriage may also be allowed between passengers or crew members of a ship or an airplane. This is probably one of those love-at-first, its-now-or-never things. The marriage may be solemnized by the ship captain or the airplane pilot. The marriage may take place while the ship is at sea or the plane is in flight. Or the marriage may take place during a stopover at one of the ports of call.
Marriage can also take place within a war zone. The military commander of a unit has the authority to solemnize a marriage between anyone inside the zone of military operations. By the term “anyone”, we refer to either the members of the armed forces or the civilians. The Family Code, however, does not state if a military commander may solemnize a marriage among rebels.
Among Muslims or other ethnic cultural groups, marriage can be done without a marriage license, as long as these are conducted according to their customs.
And the last situation described by the Family Code is a marriage between a man and a woman who have lived together for at least five years already. Of course, there should be no “legal impediment”, such as an abandoned wife somewhere. The process for this situation is similar to that described above in which the home of the marrying parties are not accessible to transportation.
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