Friday, July 17, 2009

Marry me, judge?

You can't choose which judge should officiate a marriage.
Under our family law, judges are authorized to solemnize marriages.
There are practical reasons why couples would prefer judges to solemnize their marriages.
Most noticeable are those couples where one is a foreigner.
They usually tie the knot before a judge.
It's mainly because of facility and convenience.
Less hassle.
If couples want a religious marriage, they would have to contend with scheduling of the church availability, for instance.
There are instances where couples have to schedule as early as one year before the intended date.
There are religions that impose other requirements besides personal presence of the parties during the marriage ceremony.
Requirements include attending seminars and indoctrinations, in case the other spouse-to-be does not belong to the religion of the solemnizing authority.
If there are religious impediments, then having a civil marriage would be a viable alternative.
However, if couples want to be married before a judge, they can no longer choose which judge should officiate the marriage.
There is a Supreme Court circular (Admin.Circular.125-2007) which requires applications for marriages to be raffled, just like ordinary civil cases.
The reason mainly, is to prevent civil marriages from becoming a business enterprise.
The Supreme Court is aware of "package deals" in civil marriages, by enterprising fixers.
Before, there were those who would offer to procure all the marriage requirements, like marriage license, filing fees, the officiating judge, the reception, the menu, even the honeymoon venue, for a single fee.
One-stop-shop. No hassle.
But the danger is that because this is a quickly-arranged marriage, chances are, the documents wouldn't be processed and procured properly and legally.
Worse, there may be legal impediments which are purposely overlooked.
The supreme court averted this by requiring that marriage applications be raffled to a pool of judges.
There are judges who are strict, meticulous, and do not tolerate cutting-corners---which is good.
Marriage cannot be likened to asking for police or fiscal's clearance.
It is an inviolable social institution, the preservation of which is very much a state concern. Photo above shows Dumaguete judge Cenon Voltaire Repollo officiating a marriage. Marriage outside the court room is allowed, upon request or sworn application. Judges are authorized to marry only within their territorial jurisdiction. A Dumaguete judge cannot go to Cebu and officiate a marriage. It is not required that the officiating judge be also married.

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