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DOROTHY B. TERRE, complainant, vs. ATTY.

JORDAN TERRE, respondent

Adm. Case No. 2349 July 3, 1992

Dorothy Terre first met Jordan Terre when they were 4th year high school
classmates in Cadiz City High School. She was then married to Merlito Bercenilla.
Jordan courted her and this continued when they moved to Manila to pursue their
education. Jordan, then a freshman law student, told Dorothy that her marriage
with Bercenilla was void ab initio because they are first cousins. Believing in
Jordan and with the consent of her mother and ex-in-laws, she married Jordan on
June 14, 1977. Jordan wrote single as Dorothys civil status despite latters
protests. Jordan said it didnt matter because marriage was void to begin with.
After their marriage, Dorothy supported Jordan because he was still studying
then. They had a son, Jason, who was born on June 25, 1981. Shortly after she
gave birth, Jordan disappeared. She learned that he married Vilma Malicdem.
Dorothy filed charges for abandonment of minor, bigamy and grossly immoral
conduct. Jordan was already a member of the Bar then.
Jordan claimed that he was unaware of Dorothys first marriage and that she sent
her out of the house when he confronted her about it. He contracted the second
marriage, believing that his marriage to Dorothy was void ab initio because of
her prior subsisting marriage.
ISSUE: Whether or not a judicial declaration of nullity is needed to enter into a
subsequent marriage.
Yes, a judicial declaration of nullity is needed to enter into a subsequent
marriage. The Court considered the claim of Jordan Terre as spurious defense. In
the first place, respondent has not rebutted complainants evidence as to the
basic fact which underscores that former was in bad faith. In the second place,
the pretended defense is the same argument by which he inveigled complainant
into believing that the complainants prior marriage on Merlito Bercenilla being
incestuous and void ab initio, she was free to contract a second marriage with
the respondent. Applying Article 40 of the Family Code the absolute nullity of
previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void
for purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second
marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio
is essential. Since respondent Jordan Terre is a lawyer he is bound to know that
the aforementioned argument ran counter to the prevailing case law of the
Supreme Court.
In this case, before entering to a subsequent marriage, judicial declaration of
nullity must be obtain in accordance with Article 40 of the Family Code.