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What is the rationale for presumption of marriage?

In the Philippines, the rationale for the presumption of marriage is based on the legal recognition of common-law marriage. Common-law marriage, also known as "marriage by habit and repute," is a concept in Philippine law where a couple is considered legally married, despite the absence of a formal marriage ceremony or registration, if certain conditions are met. The rationale for this presumption includes the following:

  1. Cultural and Social Considerations: The Philippines is a country with diverse cultural practices, and in some regions, traditional or religious customs may be more prevalent than formal civil marriages. The presumption of marriage helps to recognize these culturally significant relationships and provide legal protection to couples who may not have had a formal ceremony but have lived together as husband and wife for a considerable period.

  2. Protecting the Rights of Women and Children: Common-law marriage recognition ensures that women and children born out of these unions are not left without legal rights or protections. It helps prevent situations where a woman may be abandoned by her partner without any legal recourse or support for herself and her children.

  3. Promoting Stability and Family Unity: Presuming the existence of a common-law marriage promotes stable family units, as it encourages long-term commitment and responsibility between partners. It also aims to provide legal clarity and protection for children born within these relationships.

  4. Equity and Fairness: Recognizing common-law marriage ensures that the legal system treats couples in long-term relationships on an equal footing with formally married couples. It helps avoid situations where a partner might be unfairly deprived of rights and benefits solely because they did not have a formal wedding ceremony.

The legal basis can be found in Section 3 (aa), Rule 131 AM 19-08-15-SC, of the 2019 Amendments to the 1989 Revised Rules on Evidence. Under the said provision of the Rules, it is specifically provided that:

"The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence: xxx

"(aa) That a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage;"

The rationale behind this presumption was sufficiently explained in the case of Vda. De Avenido v. Avenido, GR 173540, Jan. 22, 2014, where the Supreme Court, through Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez, stated that:

"As early as the case of Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee, this Court has elucidated on the rationale behind the presumption: The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested.

Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married.

The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper — praesumitur pro matrimonio — Always presume marriage."

It is essential to note that while common-law marriage is recognized in the Philippines, the conditions for its validity can vary between regions and are subject to specific requirements outlined by the Family Code of the Philippines. Generally, for a common-law marriage to be recognized, the couple must have lived together as husband and wife for a continuous and exclusive period of time, and they must have held themselves out to the public as married. Additionally, they must not be legally married to someone else, as polygamy is prohibited in the Philippines.

Source: Ziggurat Real Estate

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