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ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage of Albios and Fringer be declared null and void.
FACTS: Respondent Libert Albios married Daniel Lee Fringer, an American citizen. She later on filed a petition to nullify their marriage. She alleged that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as husband and wife because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state or complying with any of their essential marital obligations. She said that she contracted Fringer to enter into a marriage to enable her to acquire American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of $2,000.00; that after the ceremony, the parties went their separate ways; that Fringer returned to the United States and never again communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did not pay him the $2,000.00 because he never processed her petition for citizenship. She described their marriage as one made in jest and, therefore, null and void ab initio. The RTC ruled in her favor. In declaring the respondent’s marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage was entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception. In its resolution denying the OSG’s motion for reconsideration, the RTC went on to explain that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a means for the respondent to acquire American citizenship. Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA. The CA, however, upheld the RTC decision. Agreeing with the RTC, the CA ruled that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. It held that the parties clearly did not understand the nature and consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case, the CA found the marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties only entered into the marriage for the acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of $2,000.00. They never intended to enter into a marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build a family. The OSG then elevate the case to the Supreme Court
RATIO DECIDENDI: No, respondent’s marriage is not void. The court said: “Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of consent. Their consent was also conscious and intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and inconvenient consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired their ability to do so. That their consent was freely given is best evidenced by their conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the marriage. There was a clear intention to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an application for citizenship. There was a full and complete understanding of the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie which was necessary to accomplish their goal.” The court also explained that “There is no law that declares a marriage void if it is entered into for purposes other than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of foreign citizenship. Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, it shall be declared valid.” “No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an in violable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. It must, therefore, be safeguarded from the whims and caprices of the contracting parties. This Court cannot leave the impression that marriage may easily be entered into when it suits the needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified when no longer needed.”