Civil Law

Lazaro Rayray vs Chae Kyung Lee

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G.R. No. L-18176 – 18 SCRA 450 – Civil Law – Preliminary Title – Lex Loci Celebracionis – Nationality Principle

Lazaro Rayray married Chae Kyung Lee in 1952 in Pusan, Korea. Before the marriage, Lee was able to secure a marriage license which is a requirement in Korea prior to marrying. They lived together until 1955. Rayray however later found out that Lee had  previously lived with 2 Americans and a Korean. Lee averred that it is not unusual in Korea for a woman to have more than one partner and that it is legally permissive for them to do so and that there is no legal impediment to her marriage with Rayray.  Eventually they pursued their separate ways. Rayray later filed before lower court of Manila for an action to annul his marriage with Lee because Lee’s whereabouts  cannot be determined and that he could not have given his consent in marrying Lee if only he had known prior that Lee had been living with other men. His action for annulment had been duly published and summons were made known to Lee but due to her absence Rayray moved to have Lee be declared in default. The lower court denied Rayray’s action stating that since the marriage was celebrated in Korea the court cannot take cognizance of the case and that the facts presented by Rayray is not sufficient to debunk his marriage with Lee.

ISSUE: Whether or not Rayray’s marriage with Lee is void.

HELD: No. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the lower court erred in ruling that Philippine courts do not have jurisdiction over the case. As far as marriage status is concerned, the nationality principle is controlling NOT lex loci celebracionis. The lower court is however correct in ruling that Rayray’s evidence is not sufficient to render his marriage with Lee void. Rayray  said that the police clearance secured by Lee is meant to allow her to marry after her subsequent cohabitation/s with the other men – which is considered bigamous in Philippine law. The SC ruled that the police clearance is wanting for it lacks the signature of the person who prepared it and there is no competent document to establish the identity of the same. Also, through Rayray himself, Lee averred that it is okay in Korea for a person who cohabited with other men before to marry another man. This is an indication that Lee herself is aware that if it were a previous marriage that is concerned then that could be a legal impediment to any subsequent marriage. Rayray cannot be given credence in claiming that his consent could have been otherwise altered had he known all these facts prior to the marriage because he would lie to every opportunity given him by the Court so as to suit his case.

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