Category Archives: Annulment and Legal Separation

Annulment in the Philippines: Questions and Answers (Part 3)

My fiancee and I secured a marriage license, but no marriage ceremony was ever celebrated. I learned, however, that my “wife” is already using my surname in her documents, including her passport. Am I considered as “married”?

No. A marriage license is valid only for 120 days, and any marriage contracted after that period is null and void. A woman cannot use his putative “husband’s” surname in the absence of a valid marriage. Continue reading

Venue of Petitions for Annulment or Declaration of Nullity

One of the recurring issues in this forum, perhaps primarily because of the apparent increase in interest of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in annulment, is the proper venue of petitions for annulment or declaration of nullity. To address this issue, let’s consider the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable MarriagesContinue reading

Rule on declaration of absolute nullity of void mariages and annulment of voidable marriages

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC



Acting on the letter of the Chairman of the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court submitting for this Court’s consideration and approval the Proposed Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the Court Resolved to APPROVE the same. Continue reading

Costs in seeking an annulment

There are a lot of questions posted in this Forum as to the cost or fee for an annulment procedure. The standard reply is: it depends. We could not possibly speak for the standard fees charged by all lawyers and the costs would normally go up if the case drags on as a result of contingencies (as when hearings are postponed for various reasons). It would also depend on the ground or grounds for annulment or declaration of nullity.

I have to write this post because there’s a report that the Supreme Court is considering an accreditation system for psychiatrists and psychologists who examine couples seeking to annul their marriages. The report and testimony of psychiatrists and psychologists are needed should a petitioner seek a declaration of nullity based on Article 36 of the Family Code (Psychological Incapacity). Continue reading

Annulment in the Philippines: Questions and Answers (Part 2)

One of the more popular posts in this Forum is Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers. It’s time we collate other common issues relating to this topic. When we speak of the “annulment process”, we’re using it in a general sense to include both a petition for annulment and a petition for declaration of nullity (the difference between the two was already discussed in Part I). Continue reading

Rule on Legal Separation

(The Rule on Legal Separation, covered in A.M. No. 02-11-11-SC, took effect on March 15, 2003 following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation)


SECTION 1. Scope. – This Rule shall govern petitions for legal separation under the Family Code of the Philippines.

The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily.

Sec. 2. Petition. – (a) Who may and when to file. – (1) A petition for legal separation may be filed only by the husband or the wife, as the case may be, within five years from the time of the occurrence of any of the following causes: Continue reading

Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers

There are many questions relating to annulment and divorce in the Philippines, and many of the concerns of our readers had already been addressed in previous articles. Nevertheless, to consolidate everything for everyone’s easy reference, here are the FAQs on annulment and divorce in the Philippines:

Is divorce allowed under Philippine laws?

No, divorce is not allowed in the Philippines. However, there are certain instances wherein the divorce secured abroad by the foreigner-spouse, and even by former Filipinos, are recognized under Philippine laws. More discussion here (Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree).

Would it make any difference if I marry abroad where divorce is allowed?

No. Filipinos are covered by this prohibition based on the “nationality principle”, regardless of wherever they get married (and regardless where they get a decree of divorce). Discussions relating to Overseas Filipinos or OFWs are transferred in Part V.

Is “annulment” different from a “declaration of nullity” of marriage?

Yes. In essence, “annulment” applies to a marriage that is considered valid, but there are grounds to nullify it. A “declaration of nullity” of marriage, on the other hand, applies to marriages that are void or invalid from the very beginning. In other words, it was never valid in the first place.

Also, an action for annulment of voidable marriages may prescribe, while an action for declaration of nullity of marriage does not prescribe.

So, if a marriage is void from the very beginning (void ab initio), there’s no need to file anything in court?

For purposes of remarriage, there must be a court order declaring the marriage as null and void. Entering into a subsequent marriage without such court declaration means that: (a) the subsequent marriage is void; and (b) the parties open themselves to a possible charge of bigamy.

What if no marriage certificate could be found?

Justice Sempio-Dy, in the “Handbook of on the Family Code of the Philippines” (p. 26, 1997 reprint), says: “The marriage certificate is not an essential or formal requisite of marriage without which the marriage will be void. An oral marriage is, therefore, valid, and failure of a party to sign the marriage certificate or the omission of the solemnizing officer to send a copy of the marriage certificate to the proper local civil registrar, does not invalidate the marriage. Also the mere fact that no record of marriage can be found, does not invalidate the marriage provided all the requisites for its validity are present.” (Citations omitted)

Can I file a petition (annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage) even if I am in a foreign country?

Yes, the rules recognize and allow the filing of the petition by Filipinos who are overseas.

What are the grounds for annulment?

1. Lack of parental consent in certain cases. If a party is 18 years or over, but below 21, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents/guardian. However, the marriage is validated if, upon reaching 21, the spouses freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.

2. Insanity. A marriage may be annulled if, at the time of marriage, either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

3. Fraud. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. Fraud includes: (i) non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; (ii) concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; (iii) concealment of sexually transmissible disease or STD, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or (iv) concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage. However, no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.

4. Force, intimidation or undue influence. If the consent of either party was obtained by any of these means, except in cases wherein the force, intimidation or undue influence having disappeared or ceased, the complaining party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

5. Impotence. At the time of marriage, either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable. Impotence is different from being infertile.

6. STD. If, at the time of marriage, either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. If the STD is not serious or is curable, it may still constitute fraud (see No. 3 above).

What if a spouse discovers that his/her spouse is a homosexual or is violent, can he/she ask for annulment?

Homosexuality or physical violence, by themselves, are not sufficient to nullify a marriage. At the very least, however, these grounds may be used as basis for legal separation.

How is “legal separation” different from annulment?

The basic difference is this – in legal separation, the spouses are still considered married to each other, and, thus, may not remarry.

Is legal separation faster than annulment?

Not necessarily. The petitioner in a legal separation, just like in an annulment, is still required to prove the allegations contained in the petition. More important is the mandatory 6-month “cooling off” period in legal separation cases. This is not required in annulment or declaration of nullity cases. The court is required to schedule the pre-trial conference not earlier than six (6) months from the filing of the petition. This period is meant to give the spouses an opportunity for reconciliation.

What are the grounds for legal separation?

1. Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner.

2. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation.

3. Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement.

4. Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned.

5. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent.

6. Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent.

7. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad.

8. Sexual infidelity or perversion.

9. Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner.

10. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

The term “child” shall include a child by nature or by adoption.

Should I file a petition for legal separation, can I use my own sexual infidelity as a ground?

It is interesting to note that among the grounds for legal separation, as listed above, only “sexual infidelity or perversion” is not qualified by the phrase “of the respondent” or “by respondent”. This may give the impression that the sexual infidelity of the petitioner, or the one who filed the petition, may be used as a ground in legal separation. We must consider, however, that legal separation is filed by the innocent spouse or the “aggrieved party” against the guilty spouse.

What happens if after learning that your husband (or wife) is unfaithful (No. 8 above), you still co-habitate with him/her?

This may be construed as condonation, which is a defense in actions for legal separation. In addition to condonation, the following are the defenses in legal separation:

1. Consent.
2. Connivance (in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for legal separation).
3. Mutual guilt (both parties have given ground for legal separation).
4. Collusion (to obtain decree of legal separation).
5. Prescription (5 years from the occurence of the cause for legal separation).

If you’re separated from your spouse for 4 years, is that a sufficient ground for annulment?

No. De facto separation is not a ground for annulment. However, the absence of 2 or 4 years, depending on the circumstances, may be enough to ask the court for a declaration of presumptive death of the “absent spouse”, in which case the petitioner may again re-marry. See Can someone remarry without going to court due to absence or separation?

What are the grounds for declaration of nullity of marriage?

1. Minority (those contracted by any party below 18 years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians).

2. Lack of authority of solemnizing officer (those 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).

3. Absence of marriage license (except in certain cases).

4. Bigamous or polygamous marriages (except in cases where the other spouse is declared as presumptively dead).

5. Mistake in identity (those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other).

6. After securing a judgement of annulment or of asolute nullity of mariage, the parties, before entering into the subsequent marriage, failed to record with the appropriate registry the: (i) partition and distribute the properties of the first marriage; and (ii) delivery of the children’s presumptive legitime.

7. Incestous marriages (between ascendants and descendants of any degree, between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood).

8. Void by reason of public policy. Marriages between (i) collateral blood relatives whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree; (ii) step-parents and step-children; (iii) parents-in-law and children-in-law; (iv) adopting parent and the adopted child; (v) surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child; (vi) surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter; (vii) an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter; (viii) adopted children of the same adopter; and (ix) parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person’s spouse, or his or her own spouse.

9. Psychological Incapacity. Psychological incapacity, which a ground for annulment of marriage, contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. Irreconcilable differences, conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment, by themselves, also do not warrant a finding of psychological incapacity. We already discussed the guidelines and illustrations of psychological incapacity, including a case involving habitual lying, as well as the steps and procedure in filing a petition.

Please note, however, that there are still other grounds to declare a marriage as null and void.


Browse through the comments below to check if your questions are similar to that of others. Other common issues are consolidated in Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Costs in seeking an Annulment, and other related posts. You can check the Related Posts at the bottom of each post.

Legal Dynamics: Citizenship and Divorce

Discussions are welcome in the Forum. As more subjects here are discussed by the readers, the interaction of one topic with another (or between related laws) results to a legal melting pot, enriching the pool of topics to choose from.

For instance, we have discussed (“Divorce and Annulment in the Philippines“) that a Filipino – wherever he/she may be located in the world – is governed by Philippine laws on marriage. This means that while he/she can secure a divorce outside the Philippines, such divorce is NOT recognized in the Philippines. The same article also contains a discussion on the effect of losing Filipino citizenship vis-a-vis divorce. If a Filipino is naturalized as a foreign citizen and, in the process, loses his/her Filipino citizenship, such former Filipino can validly seek a divorce abroad and the divorce is recognized in the Philippines. In other words, after complying with the procedure in having the foreign decree of divorce judicially recognized (through a court action) here in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse may validly remarry. Continue reading

Effect of Annulment in a Criminal Case for Bigamy

There are persistent questions on the effect of a petition for annulment or a declaration of nullity of marriage on a criminal case for bigamy. Perhaps it’s time to have a discussion on this subject matter.

In a case for bigamy, the following matters or “elements” must be shown by the prosecution:

1. That the offender has been legally married;
2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.

There are two scenarios: (1) it is argued that the first marriage is null and void or is a nullity; or (2) that the second marriage is null and void. Let’s discuss each scenario. Continue reading