Fringer and Liberty Albios got married on October 22, 2004, before the sala of Judge Calo in Mandaluyong City. 2 years after their marriage (December 6, 2006), Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage with Fringer. According to her, the marriage was a marriage in jest because she only wed the American to acquire US citizenship and even arranged to pay him $2,000 in exchange for his consent. Adding 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 and complying with their marital obligations. The court even sent summons to the husband but he failed to file an answer.
Both the RTC and CA ruled in favor of Albios declaring that the marriage was void ab initio for lack of consent 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 to acquire American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.. However, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) elevated the case to the SC. According to the OSG, the case do not fall within the concept of a marriage in jest as the parties intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage. That the parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage, for if it were otherwise, the purpose of Albios to acquire American citizenship would be rendered futile.
Is a marriage, contracted for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground of lack of consent?
NO. Both Fringer and Albios consented to the marriage. 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.
Under Article 2 of the Family Code, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2) made in the presence of a solemnizing officer.
A "freely given" consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage.
Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation, and undue influence. None of these are present in the case.
Therefore, their marriage remains valid.