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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Love in the time of the coronavirus

While the whole world was teetering on the brink of a coronavirus pandemic, two celebrity lovebirds declared their wedding vows by promising to love each other for better and for worse, until death do they part. But just minutes after pronouncing their “I dos,” their conjugal union went through one of their worst nightmares. Popstar Sarah Geronimo and actor Matteo Guidicelli were married on Feb. 20. The cool air must have suddenly turned into sweltering heat for the famous couple because of the ugly commotion that ensued. Mommy Divine, as Sarah’s mom is popularly known, barged into the wedding reception venue, furious and ready to pick a fight. She was not only not invited to the wedding, she didn’t even know that a wedding would be taking place. Per witness accounts, Mommy Divine accused Sarah and Matteo of betraying her, and hurtful words were exchanged.

No one from the Geronimo side was at the wedding, but the Guidicelli parents were in attendance. For Sarah to keep the wedding secret from her entire family speaks volumes of how deathly afraid she was of what her mother would do to stop the wedding. For sure, the couple weighed multiple options to ensure the secrecy of the wedding. There was the option to tie the knot out of town, the alternative to hold the wedding out of the country, and the choice to hold a private nuptial before a judge or mayor. The fact that they scratched off these options says a lot about how strictly guarded Sarah was by her mother. The couple even had to hold the wedding under the pretext that Sarah was merely working that day.

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There’s something about this brouhaha that riles up so many people to fits of emotional indignation against Mommy Divine, who is demonized for the suffocating control she wielded over her daughter’s personal life. Even my wife, who is normally indifferent to showbiz scandals, has furiously ranted against Mommy Divine for the way she had deprived her daughter of personal freedom. In her impassioned commentaries during dinner conversations, my wife even indicts Mommy Divine’s hard-hearted restrictions on her daughter’s life as bordering on illegal detention.

Apart from its entertainment value, for me, incidents like this provide learning opportunities for the public on the basic but fundamental intricacies of the law.

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Our law governing marriage (Family Code) allows anyone who is already 18 years of age to get married. However, for those who are 18 to 20 years old, they are required to obtain parental consent. If the parents refuse to give their consent, the marriage is “voidable,” which means that the court can declare the marriage invalid. For those who are 21 to 24 years old, they are required to obtain parental advice. The lack of parental advice or an unfavorable advice will not invalidate the marriage, and its only effect is to cause a three-month delay in the issuance of a marriage license.

Sarah is already 31 years old and Matteo is 29, both of ripe age; that gives them the absolute freedom to choose whoever they want to marry, even in defiance of their parents’ vehement objections. Also, from the moment Sarah turned 18 years old, the law gave her the complete freedom to exercise total control over her earnings and property.

Assuming there’s no prenuptial agreement, from the moment Sarah and Matteo got married, all their properties became co-owned by both of them. Matteo is wealthy from the bits of news about him, but with Sarah’s wealth estimated at up to P3.82 billion, some have voiced out apprehensions that she might be at the losing end if Matteo turns out to be a scoundrel. However, Matteo will lose his share of the co-owned properties in favor of their eventual children, if he is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage.

Francisco Balagtas has proven for the millionth time that, in addition to being one of the greatest literary laureates of our race, he is one of mankind’s best psychic seers when he wrote: “O pag-ibig na makapangyarihan, kapag pumasok sa puso nino man, hahamakin ang lahat, masunod ka lamang.”

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TAGS: Family Code, Flea Market of Ideas, Joel Ruiz Butuyan, marriage laws, Matteo Guidicelli, Mommy Divine, Sarah Geronimo
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