Claiming alimony after annulment of marriage

Published by rudy Date posted on April 15, 2009

Dear PAO, 

My girlfriend filed a case for nullity of her marriage on the ground that it was bigamous. Can my girlfriend sue her former husband for bigamy? Can she claim alimony from her former husband after the annulment? 

B.F.
 

Dear B.F., 

Any person, who shall contract 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 final judgment rendered in the proper proceedings, shall be liable for bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The penalty for bigamy is prision mayor or imprisonment for 6 years and 1 day to 12 years.

The criminal complaint for bigamy must be instituted within the prescriptive period of 15 years from discovery thereof. Prescriptive period is the limitation on the government’s right to prosecute. The period of prescription shall commence to run from the day the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents.

The elements of bigamy are as follows: 

a. Offender has been married;

b. He contracts a second or subsequent marriage;

c. Without the first marriage having been legally dissolved or in case of his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not be presumed dead under the Civil Code; and

d. The second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.

 The crime of bigamy does not fall within the category of private crimes that can be prosecuted only at the instance of the aggrieved wife or the offended party. The offense is committed not only against the first and second wife but also against the state. In cases of bigamy, it is immaterial whether it is the first or second wife who initiates the action, for it is a public offense which can be denounced not only by the person affected thereby but even by a civic-spirited citizen who may come to know of the same. The term innocent spouse is applicable not only to the wife of the first marriage but also to the wife of the second marriage, because bigamy affects the civil status of the wives, and more particularly the second.

As aptly discussed above, your girlfriend can sue her former husband for bigamy. But no, your girlfriend cannot claim for alimony after the declaration of nullity of her marriage to her former husband. It is clear from the provisions of Article 198 of the Family Code that the obligation of the spouses to give mutual support to each other ceases after the final judgment granting the petition by the offended spouse for declaration of nullity of marriage.

However, during the proceedings for legal separation or for annulment of marriage, and for declaration of nullity of marriage, the spouse and their children shall be supported from the properties of the absolute community or conjugal partnership. What is clear is that the property regime of the former spouses shall be dissolved when the marriage is annulled or declared void. The properties then shall be liquidated in accordance with the provisions of Article 102 or 129 of the Family Code, depending on the property relations of the former spouses. The liquidation of the properties shall be done accordingly.

We hope that we were able to substantially answer your query. Please be reminded, however, that our opinion is based solely on your narration of facts and our appreciation of the same. Opinion may vary if other facts are added or elaborated on. 

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net or via text message (key in: Times dearpao <YOUR QUESTION> and send to 2299).

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