"Before you get married, you should be careful with the requirements of the law," wise words from Kris Aquino’s lawyer, Atty. Sharlyne Goboy-Lapuz, an associate of MOST Law firm (formerly Marcos Ochoa Serapio & Tan).
The marriage of Kris to James Yap was annulled not because of their marital problems, but because they did not fulfill certain conditions required by law.
"Getting married is not...should not be easy...You don’t [rush] into marriage," said Atty. Lapuz.
Several important requirements were overlooked during the hasty wedding of Kris and James.
The couple tied the knot on July 10, 2005 after a five-month courtship.
First, the lack of authority of the solemnizing officer...
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and YES! magazine last February 3, Atty. Lapuz elaborated:
"Based on the records that we discovered, ahm, relating to the marriage of the parties... the solemnizing officer was a lady minister from a religious sect called [the] Holy Sacrament International Church.
"Holy Sacrament International Church is not a Roman Catholic sect.
"And based on the application for marriage license of the parties, it is stated there that both parties are Roman Catholic."
Article 35 Section 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines, issued as Executive Order No. 209 by Kris’s mom, former President Corazon Aquino, in July 1987, states that a marriage "solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages, unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer, had the legal authority to do so," shall be void from the beginning.
Atty. Lapuz continued, "Under the law, for a solemnizing officer coming from a religious sect, church, or other religious organizations, at least one of the parties should be a member of that religious sect.
"The marriage of Kris and James was solemnized by a lady minister of an obscure religious sect called Holy Sacrament International Church.
"None of the parties is a member of this religious sect, and thus, it was declared null and void."
Second, the person who solemnized the wedding rites...
Ms. Rayda P. Tumaliuan, a lady minister, agreed to administer the wedding rites on one condition: that Kris and James have a Catholic wedding after.
The problem was, "at the time of their marriage, the Holy Sacrament International Church’s, ahm, registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission was revoked."
This meant that Kris and James got married before a lady minister whose church "was not even in existence under the law" at that time.
Atty. Lapuz continued, "They were able to renew or re-register their church, but only after the marriage of the parties."
Third, "believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had authority to solemnize his marriage with Kris..."
According to the lawyer, James tried to prove this, but the court decided otherwise, because he failed to consider the person solemnizing their marriage.
Atty. Lapuz said, "If you’re Roman Catholic and you have a lady minister solemnizing your marriage, shouldn’t you be asking, ’Are you authorized [to marry us] because we’re Catholics?’
"Marriage is a sacred institution and thus, you should choose the persons involved in the ceremony."
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY. Another issue that had to be decided by the court for a year and a half was Article 36 of the Family Code, which states: "A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization."
A person who knows the couple told PEP that it was James who pushed for this because, "yung ground na lack of authority ng solemnizing officer... the child will be illegitimate."
Atty. Lapuz refused to discuss this in detail, and only said, "It wasn’t proven, that’s why the court said there was insufficiency of evidence."
A lawyer PEP consulted on this said the nullity of a marriage makes Bimby, the son of Kris Aquino with James Yap, illegitimate.
We asked: How emotional was the hearing?
Among the lawyers, there was "no tension," Atty. Lapuz said, "because we didn’t find it necessary."
Kris’s lawyer related that her client "was really badgered during cross examination," wherein James’s lawyer, Atty. Lorna Kapunan, brought up Kris’s past—including her ex-boyfriends.
Despite that, the mom of Josh and Bimby—as her lawyer put it—"handled it really well."
Atty. Lapuz recounted, "She didn’t cry much, parang she was just telling a story.
"Everything [was brought up.] And she was really, ’Okay, bring it on na lang.’
"People just really misinterpret her kasi she says everything, e, as in, ’Okay, I’ll just tell you,’ and parang bale wala sa kanya.
"But I know that’s not easy."
Another piece of information revealed by Atty. Lapuz lawyer was the amount of time spent on "the psychological incapacity" issue because it involved hearing the testimonies of "five" witnesses.
"The cross examination of Kris Aquino alone [took] half-a-day."
SETTLEMENT. If there was no marriage to begin with, why was the matter of conjugal properties discussed?
As PEP previously reported, the PBA player supposedly received a settlement amounting to "one million dollars."
Although Kris never mentioned the amount in her interviews, she said: "It was fair. I don’t think he’s greedy."
The lawyer explained, "Had we pursued it, he would not have gotten anything. That’s why we wanted that ground also."
She was referring to the nullification of the marriage.
Atty. Lapuz resumed, "Sabi nga namin, be patient, we will win this for you. We would have won the case in any way. We were that confident.
"Had we litigated on the properties, we would have to prove one by one where they came from, and we were ready with records to [prove this]."
"This is the effect of Article 35 paragraph 2, he will not get any..."
But Kris did not agree.
Atty. Lapuz added, "Plus, it will also take time...
"But because Kris just wants it to be over, we amicably settled the properties."
And the bargaining?
Atty. Lapuz said: "It was done in private, between the parties. Lawyers were out.
"Normal procedure po is parties would talk, and then the judge would approve the written [agreement]..."
It was February 3 when Kris’s manager and friend, Boy Abunda, announced that Kris’s petition was finally granted.
The usually chatty Kris did not mention anything about the court’s resolution that was issued last January 9.
One lesson the 39-year-old star learned from her ordeal, Atty. Lapuz said, was to be more "careful with the requirements of the law" before getting married.
She added, "Kris will have a prenup" next time.
PEP tried to get in touch with James and his lawyer Atty. Lorna Kapunan more than twice since February 3, but as of press time, there has been no word from either of them.
This site will readily publish any statement that will be issued by James or his lawyer.