Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Underwater Wedding... and its Legal Implications

A friend, who is presently studying law, asked for my opinion on an interesting question on family law assigned by his law professor. Here’s my take:
It must really be difficult to fathom the profundity of a wedding celebration under the sea… with scores of fish and other sea creatures witnessing the ceremony.
Since human vocal cords cannot duplicate the skills of the whales in producing such awe-inspiring reverberations underwater, it must be very interesting to witness a wedding conducted in pantomime.

While the seaworld is governed by the most fundamental precepts inherent in the laws of nature, the wedding couple will have to swim and tread back to their own world governed by the most complicated and tortuous laws of men. While the fish and their kin might have unreservedly accepted the marriage vows (nobody so far has been reported to have been bitten by shark or by some other sea(tizens) in opposition to such freakish ritual), we the creatures of convoluted ideologies cannot however avoid inquiring the legal acceptability of said marriage ceremony.

It is my submission that a marriage solemnized underwater per se does not suffer any legal infirmity. It bears stressing that the law requires no prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of the marriage; and that it should be solemnized in a particular or a public place is not an essential requisite of the law.

In other words, even if the marriage ceremony takes place outside the customary venue and traditional ritual, like marriage underwater, but in a place within the jurisdiction of the Philippines laws, such marriage remain lawful as long as it complies with both essential and formal requisites prescribed in the New Family Code.

The most pertinent provision under the law would presumably be Article. 8 of the New Family Code which provides to wit:

“The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of this Code, or where both of the parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.”

It must be emphasized however that the specified venues in the said provision are logically presumed to be merely directory and not mandatory as these are not specifically included in the enumerated formal and essential requisites under Articles 2 & 3 of the New Family Code. When read in conjunction with Art. 4 thereof, marriages celebrated underwater, even if held defectivem in view of Article 8, are not necessarily void. Such standpoint finds ample support from the view of many legal luminaries among whom is Rufus Rodriguez, who commented in his book[1] that “failure to observe said rules does not make the marriage void citing the case of San Gabriel vs. San Gabriel 85 Phil. 669 11/27/59.

If the marriage ceremony was solemnized underwater but outside Philippine territorial jurisdiction, then the principle of lex loci celebrationis applies which principle is easily gleaned in Article 26 of the New Family Code.

( Literally) taking the plunge with the person you love underwater in a unique marriage ceremony deserves legal recognition inasmuch as it would still fundamentally and substantially comply the intendment of the law on marriages.
[1] The Family Code of the Philippines Annotated

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Teaching Law

This is a test post. I have been teaching law in one of Cebu City's law schools. I abhor the so-called Socratic method of teaching as I find it too restrictive and... what's the right word? - haughty. They say I spoon-feed. Perhaps - but I consider it a more industrious approach, and effective as well. Knowledge is meant to be shared. Hence, this blog. Don't forget what John Davies says:

"Skill comes so slow, and life so fast doth fly, We learn so little and forget so much."

By the way, I teach taxation.