Can I get an annulment if I was married without a marriage license?

Yes, you can get an annulment if you were married without a marriage license.

In some cases, people have been able to marry without a marriage license.

Those marriages are void but need to go through annulment for it to be ended.

In other case, people marry using an Affidavit of Cohabitation instead of a marriage license.

If your Affidavit of Cohabitation has a serious error, you can use that as a ground to end the marriage.

However, even in this case, you will still need to go through the annulment process in order to legally end the marriage and obtain a CENOMAR or a Certificate of No Marriage.

What is a marriage license?

A sample marriage license certificate issued by Manila Local Civil Registry
A marriage license must show all the important personal information of the applicants

A marriage license is a document that allows two people to get married in the Philippines.

It is proof that the couple has met the legal requirements to get married, such as being of age and with no legal impediment.

The marriage license is valid for 120 days from the date of issuance and must be obtained before the wedding ceremony.

The marriage license includes the following information:

1.   The names of the bride and groom

2. Their ages and birth dates

     3. Their complete addresses

     4. Their gender and citizenship

     5.  The place where the marriage will take place

     6.  The marriage license number

What documents do I need to prove the issue with my marriage license?

A sample of marriage certificate highlighting the Marriage License Number
You can try and request a certified copy of the marriage license using the marriage license number in your marriage certificate to check it’s authenticity

If your situation is that you married without a marriage license, then your marriage is void.

If the marriage license is actually for another couple, if it is a fake license number, or if it was issued after the ceremony or was expired, your marriage is also void.

(However please note that typo errors on your marriage license do not make your marriage void.)

If you have any of the above issues, you will need to prove it so that it can be used in an Annulment case.

You can do the following to prove that you had no marriage license or that there was an issue with it:

       ·       Check your marriage certificate. If you need a copy, you can get one from the PSA or from the Local Registrar’s Office (LCR) where you got married.

Look at your license. If you cannot see a marriage license number, this means there was no marriage license submitted when you got married. You will need to request for a certification from the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) that there is no record of your marriage license.

      ·       If there is a marriage license number, call or visit the LCR and ask for the marriage license file with that number.

The license number should be registered under your names – if not, then these LCR documents can be used to prove that the marriage license was not valid.

      ·       Check when the marriage license was issued then check when the expiration date should have been.

If you were married after the license expired, your marriage is not valid.

Also, your marriage is not valid if your license was issued after your marriage.

A woman on a receiving window on a government office
You can ask for help with the Officer of The Day of the Local Civil Registrar to verify your marriage documents

Some people ask if a license is valid if a fixer was the one who applied for the license, or if you didn’t attend the marriage seminar at the LCR.

Yes, your marriage is still considered valid even if the marriage license was infirm.

Gather the following documents as proof of your investigation:

1.       A copy of the marriage certificate

2.       A copy of the marriage license

3.       A certified true copy of the Local Civil Registrar’s records

4.       Other supporting documents from the Local Civil Registrar

You should consult with an attorney to discuss your specific case.

There may be other proof needed depending on the exact error and your situation.

What is an Affidavit of Cohabitation?

A young couple looking outside the window
Many Filipino couples now favor common-law partnerships and living together according to the Philippine Statistics Authority study

An Affidavit of Cohabitation is a document saying that two people have been living together for 5 years and that there was no impediment to their getting married.

(No impediment means that they were both of legal age when they started living together and neither of them was already married to someone else.)

The document also must be notarized for it to be recognized.

An Affidavit of Cohabitation can be used instead of a marriage license.

This Affidavit is submitted to the officer who will officiate your marriage such as a priest.

However, if the affidavit contains false information – for example, as one of the parties was already married or if they were not actually living together for 5 years – then the marriage based on the Affidavit of Cohabitation could be challenged and annulled.

To prove that your Affidavit of Cohabitation is invalid, you must provide proof of the invalidity.

You can choose to prove that there was a legal impediment to their being marriage.

Or, if the issue was that you lived together less than 5 years, you can prove this by showing that one of the parties was not in the country by getting Bureau of Immigration Travel records.

You should also ask for witness testimony to further strengthen the case.

It is important to note that falsifying an affidavit is a crime of perjury.

If caught, the person responsible for the false information may be charged criminally and jailed.

If this is the case, your family lawyer may suggest annulling the marriage on other grounds instead of using the fact that the Affidavit of Cohabitation had problems.

Annulment requirements text overlaid on a tray of papers
Your lawyer will list down documentary requirements that you will need to gather for the drafting of the petition

How do you file an Annulment?


To file an annulment due to an invalid marriage license or Affidavit of Cohabitation, you need to file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.

This is a court case that ends a marriage which is void from the beginning.

To file a declaration of nullity of marriage, you will need to hire a family lawyer.

The lawyer will review your case and help you gather the necessary documents.

The documents you will need to file the case include:

1.       Your marriage certificate

2.       Birth certificates of all children, if you have any

3.       A duly notarized barangay certificate, which includes a sketch map of your residence

4.       The complete address of your residence of the last 6 months before you filed for annulment. These can include government ID’s, utility bills, mail from banks, or a lease or land title

5.       A list of witnesses who will testify during the hearing

6.       The certification from the LCR that you were not issued a marriage license, or for the affidavit of cohabitation proof such as travel documents showing non-cohabitation from both ends

7.       The proof that you gathered above

8.       Witnesses

Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage text with court sala as the background
It is very important that you hire an expert annulment lawyer as an annulment denied on its grounds cannot be filed again and you remain married.

Once you have gathered the necessary documents, your lawyer will prepare and draft your petition.

Your lawyer will also speak to all the witnesses who will be testifying for you.

Before your lawyer submits the petition, he/she should show it to you so you can check all the details to make sure they are correct.

Your family lawyer will then file the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage with the court.

The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether or not the marriage is void.

Before the hearing, the judge assigned to your case will have a prosecutor perform a collusion investigation to check if you and your spouse did not agree to the annulment and falsify the evidence of your circumstance.

You will also be scheduled to appear at the pre-trial. Absence from the pre-trial may lead to a dismissal so do not be absent for this.

After all the initial process is done, your trial will be scheduled.

You will need to appear in court for the hearing of your petition.

During the trial witnesses will be called and evidence presented. You may be asked to appear in court more than once. Like the pre-trial, non-attendance may get your case dismissed.

If the court finds that the marriage is void, it will issue a decree of nullity. This decree will end the marriage and allow you to get a CENOMAR, which is a certificate that shows that you are not married.

A judge hitting the gavel
The process may seem very simple but it actually requires technical and procedural expertise in order to win the case

Things to remember when filing an annulment:

·       The process of filing an annulment can take several years.

·       The cost of filing an annulment can be significant.

·       You will need to appear in court for the hearing.

·       If you are considering filing an annulment, it is important to speak with a family lawyer to discuss your case and your options so that the strongest possible case is presented.

·       Remember that an annulment denied on its grounds can never be filed again. 

How long and how much will the annulment be?

A hand holding a wrist watch
Annulment cases usually take about 3 years.

The annulment process can take anywhere from 3 years or more.

The cost of an annulment can range from at least Php 350,000 and even higher if the annulment is contested.

Things that increase the cost are the psychologist’s cost, the judge’s and prosecutor’s understanding the law, a hostile ex-spouse and the inclusion of child and property issues (we really recommend removing child and property issues from the case to keep issues separate)

Unlike other countries, the Philippines requires a full blown trial to end a marriage.

This means court hearings and testimony.

It means the presentation of proof.

Other countries generally just require the submission of documents and an examination of them but because the Philippines has a long and drawn out trial and proof must be presented, costs are higher than ending a marriage abroad.

A pile of Five hundred peso bills
The expensive cost of annulment creates the belief that it is for celebrities only.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the costs involved in an annulment:

1.       Lawyer’s fee: The lawyer’s fee will vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of the case. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from Php 250,000 at least for an annulment.

2.       Research and compiling fees: The lawyer will need to research the law and gather evidence to support your case. This can involve hiring experts, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, to assess your spouse’s mental capacity. The cost of research and compiling fees can range from Php50,000 to Php100,000.

3.       Filing fees: There are various fees involved in filing an annulment petition, such as court filing fees, publication fees, and sheriff’s fees. These fees can range from Php10,000 to Php50,000.

4.       In total, you can expect to pay anywhere from Php 350,000 or more for an annulment. The actual cost will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

A man in formal attire fixing his neck tie
Sometimes even travel cost is very expensive specially when the court is in a far away province.

People often ask if there are other, cheaper options.

No, not really.

Legal separation doesn’t end the marriage and is more expensive than annulment.

Annulment is the only case that removes the spouse as a compulsory heir, ends the marriage and also ends conjugal property at the same time (doing each of these things separately will cost you much, much more). 

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