I got two e-mail request on aspects of a marriage. I decided to answer them in the same column, just so you can see how many problems a marriage can have.
"A Case of Wrong Marriage"
Dear Atty. Legarda,
I was married for almost 8 yrs. now and been separated for 4 yrs. I've read your article today February 26, 2008 in Kat's Eye and encouraged me to send you some questions. What are the problems I will be facing if I will have new partner in life? Though I cannot be married again as I am legally married to my ex-wife. We both can't afford a legal separation or annulment because of financial matters but we are truly setting each other free to whatever we want to do with our lives. The woman that I met and willing to live with me as we both in love with each other is also married with no kids like me but has been separated for more than a year now. We really want to live as normal couple as married people does. In a piace of paper that I signed which have been holding me back from falling inlove again but now I can't resist it anymore because I'm only a human being. Any possibility of having a normal life or normal way of living with a woman that I love right now? Any type of other legal arrangement I could have with my ex-wife if we're incapable of filing an annulment? We are both willing to take the risk to live with each other but we are both naive of the consequences we may be facing in future if my ex-wife or her ex-husband file a case against us? I just feel that if I don't have money for annulment, I will be a prisoner of my ex-wife forever and I will never have a chane to live a normal life, to love and to be loved. I am so sad about it and I've been suffering this emotional thing since I got married to a wrong woman which I thought I will be happy for the rest of my life. Thank you and God bless. "
Dear Mr. Wrong Marriage, I hate to burst your bubble, but you cannot do what you wish to do, unless you are both willing to face the risk of being the charged with adultery by your girlfriend's husband. There is no defense for that once you start living together. You can also be charged with concubinage by your own spouse, as you will be living with another woman and you will be living with her as if she were your wife. Yes, if you do not get your first marriages nullified, you will both be married to the "wrong" people for the rest of your life. Read on. . .
The second e-mail writer begs me not to reveal his personal circumstances, so let us just call him the "battered husband." He has finally left his wife, and is now desperate to have his marriage declared void.
To you who wrote me, I do think you have a very good ground to have your marriage declared void on the ground of psychological incapacity. You will need to see a clinical psychologist (please make sure the psychologist you see has a doctorate in clinical psychology) or a psychiatrist who works with a clinical psychologist, and take a battery of tests. These tests will reveal your personality. The clinical psychologist will also infer a diagnosis on the personality disorder of your wife. A good psychologist or psychiatrist will charge about between 40,000-60,000 pesos. Good family lawyers have a standard fee schedule: they have an acceptance fee of between 150,000-250,000 pesos, and will charge you for attending trials and other costs. Many good lawyers have socialized fees - so that the poor, the disadvantaged, can also get their personal lives in order. If you belong to this latter category, be prepared to pay a monthly retainer fee until your case has been resolved. In the end, you get what you pay for, so please don't skimp on something that could affect you for the rest of your life.
You can write to [email protected] if you have questions for me to answer. Please note that I do not answer questions directly, and I can only give general answers based on the law. Till next week.