Lex Rex Ph

Navarro vs. Domagtoy

129 SCRA 259

A judge who solemnized a bigamous marriage

Facts

Complainant Mayor Navarro files a complaint against respondent Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy, which, he contends, exhibits gross misconduct as well as inefficiency in office and ignorance of the law. Nature of the Case: Administrative complaint against a judge’s misconduct. Charges of Mayor Navarro against Judge Domagtoy:

  1. He solemnized a wedding despite the knowledge that the groom is merely separated from his first wife.
  2. He performed a marriage outside his court’s jurisdiction

Explanation of the judge: (1) He merely relied on the Affidavit issued by the Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar, confirming the fact that the groom and his first wife have not seen each other for almost seven years; (2) He did not violate article 7 and 8 of the Family Code.

Issues and Ruling

Did judge Domagtoy validly solemnized the marriage? No.

The groom’s first wife left the conjugal dwelling in Valencia, Bukidnon and that she has not returned nor been heard of for almost seven years, thereby giving rise to the presumption that she is already dead. 

Judge Domagtoy maintains that the aforementioned joint affidavit is sufficient proof of Ida Peñaranda’s presumptive death, and ample reason for him to proceed with the marriage ceremony. The Court does not agree.

Article 41 of the Family Code expressly provides: To contract a subsequent marriage…, the [remaining] spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis added.)

In the case at bar, Gaspar Tagadan [groom] did not institute a summary proceeding for his first wife’s presumptive death. He therefore remains married to Ida Peñaranda. It was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to have accepted the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. 

Such neglect or ignorance of the law has resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, ” The following marriage shall be void from the beginning: (4) Those bigamous . . . marriages not falling under Article 41.”

Did the respondent judge acted with gross ignorance of Articles 7 and 8 of the Family Code? Yes

Respondent judge misunderstood Article 7 and Article 8 of the Family Code.
For Article 7, “An incumbent member of the judiciary may only solemnize marriage within the court’s jurisdiction;” Inasmuch as respondent judge’s jurisdiction covers the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte.

For Article 8, the written request presented addressed to the respondent judge was made by only one party, Gemma del Rosario, and not both contracting parties. Article 8, which is a directory provision, refers only to the venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the authority of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding provision. Non-compliance herewith will not invalidate the marriage.

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