Divorce and Annulment in the Philippines

Some Filipinos want and do get married outside the Philippines. There’s nothing really strange with this, except when they say that the reason is for convenience in getting a divorce abroad. This is strange for two main reasons:

1. Divorce is not recognized under Philippine laws. If you’re a Filipino, it doesn’t matter where you get a divorce: such divorce is invalid/void in the Philippines. This is because under the nationality principle (Art. 15, Civil Code), all Filipinos – where they may be in the world – are bound by Philippine laws on family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity. Yes, folks, you can run, but you can’t hide.Nevertheless, divorce decrees secured outside the Philippines are recognized in certain instances. This is provided in Article 26 (Paragraph 2) of the Family Code, which reads in full:

ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

The twin elements for the application of this provision are:

1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and

2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

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.

At first glance, Article 26 seems to apply only to a marriage between a Filipino and a foreigner. This was raised by a respected commentator in family law, Justice Sempio-Diy, who noted that Art. 26 does not apply:

…to a divorce obtained by a former Filipino who had been naturalized in another country after his naturalization, as it might open the door to rich Filipinos’ obtaining naturalization abroad for no other reason than to be able to divorce their Filipino spouse (Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1995 Ed., p. 30).

However, this provision was later interpreted by the Supreme Court to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry. (Philippines vs. Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, 5 October 2005).

2. Marriage is supposed to be forever. From an idealistic non-legal standpoint, the sole reason for marriage should be love; the kind of love that transcends time and withstands any impediments that life throws our way. From a legal perspective, on the other hand, no less than the Philippine Constitution (Art. XV, Sec. 2) and the Family Code (Art. 1) expressly characterize marriage as the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution. The law states that it is a special contract of a permanent union between a man and a woman (sorry, same sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines). It is inviolable. It is permanent. In short, you don’t think of divorce when you get married.

History of Article 26, Family Code:

6 July 1987: President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the “Family Code.” The law, which took effect on 3 August 1988, reads:

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38.

17 July 1987: Executive Order No. 227 was signed into law, amending Article 26 of the Family Code, among others. Article 26 now reads:

ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

152 thoughts on “Divorce and Annulment in the Philippines

  1. teakjaguar

    Hello,
    I’m a filipina who just got married to a Canadian citizen. I filed a divorce here in Canada from my filipino husband who is in the Philippines. It was granted before i got married to my current husband now. I went to our Embassy in Vancouver to file a Report of Marriage and renew my passport under my current husband’s last name and didn’t let me file any. They said i have to go to file a paper in the court that i was granted divorce here. Will i be able to change my last name in the passport?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Reply
  2. edlan28

    Mr. Fred, really need your advice. I was a 17 y/o (1997) when my father and his father decided us to get married w/o me knowing it, I was surprised on the next morning when they told me not to go to school (college) that day because we need to go somewhere then I knew that it was my wedding day without anything to wear or I don’t know what to say. His my bf yes, but I’m not ready as I told him. In the ceremony when the mayor asked me, i didn’t answer that’s my mother whisper at the back if I still don’t want but the father of the guy started to make a scene in the place that he was angry, it was their place where most of the people was their relatives including the one who prepare our papers. Then the guy bump me and told me to answer and it all happened there…
    I thought parents are always right but now I knew not all the time because as this moment happened, it was the start of my most horrible life. I didn’t dreamed for this but what can I do? This guy is an addict to drugs, liquor, barkada, I prayed and thought he will change that time then one day a neighbor get pity on me then told what’s his doing! He cheated me with other lady which his whole family hides from me for long time but one they I catch him with this girl that was already 4months pregnant with him and for that I knew that when I am away working hard for our family, alone, they doing it in the house, in the room where we also lived. My life was ups and down, i have 3 kids that’s why I need to continue and to survive. I forgiven him many times but still he continue doing it all over again and worst he didn’t work? He didn’t bother to work to support our kids that’s why I did my best… standing alone without his help of anything most for financial… even single cents even his family did bad things to me, I stayed strong for my kids!
    To make it a story little short, Now I am working as OFW. I want to file an annulment to him.
    Please am I have a right to do so? I want to change my life.. in my own decision, for a right to be happy and willing to stand even alone for my kids.
    Mr. Fred, help me… do you think I deserved to be happy? to be free…

    Reply
  3. edlan28

    I want to take his surname to remove from mine! I want to have my own identity which I alone build, I alone dream for the future of my kids! Mr. Fred, how can I start? What is the best thing to do of filling this annulment?! I earned not less but not more than to support my kids in their needs. What do you think the best thing to do. I was not talking to him for 3 and half years now as I was not going to do that anymore… even his face I don’t want to see as I already had enough with him and his family! Better to be like this! So how can I have my freedom? Where I can file my annulment case? or do I need to go to the same place where it happened?
    sorry if I was so dramatic but until now… but that was true! (still long story to share, story that keeping my eyes cry!)

    Reply
  4. Therovive

    Hi. Im a Filipina, married to Japanese in 2005. but separated our ways that same year. I have a live in partner now for 2 years. My question is, if my ex-husband asks for divorce and if ever it will be granted, would it be valid here after I get it translated in the Japanese embassy. Id like to be worthy of my present relationship and marry him. please reply. thank you so much.

    Reply
  5. srmr

    Good day,

    I am married, but physically separated and with no communication with my legal husband since February 2011. I am now pregnant with a live-in partner.

    It seems whichever options for surname I will choose for the child, there’ll be legal consequences against me before I even file an annulment or that either of these options can be used against me during the annulment process.

    Option 1: If I use the biological father’s surname, an adultery case may be filed against me.

    Option 2: If I claim that I am single and use my maiden surname, a perjury case may be filed against me.

    Option 3: If I use the legal husband’s surname, the legal husband may file a case of damages against me.

    Below are some situations and questions:

    1. In the child’s birth certificate, can I declare I am married, use my married name as mother, leave the father’s name blank and use my maiden surname as the child’s surname? Will the child be considered legitimate or illegitimate? What are the consequences?

    2. If situation #1 is possible and done, will I be able update my name on the child’s birth certificate after annulment (i.e., use my original name prior to getting married)?

    3. If situation #1 is possible and done, will I be able to apply my child, which will appear a minor applicant, a passport and travel outside the country with him? I would like to know if DFA will validly accept my married name record as the child’s mother though the child’s surname is my maiden surname.

    4. If situation #1 is not possible, can I have my parents adopt the my child? Will the child be considered legitimate or illegitimate? Will I be able to travel outside the country with my child? What are the consequences?

    5. If situation #4 is possible and done, can I adopt my child after annulment with the legal husband? Will the child be considered legitimate or illegitimate?

    The lack of money is preventing me to initiate the action to file an annulment. The situation got more complicated when I conceived a child from another man. I want to settle things the best and legal way possible. I am hoping for your professional advice.

    Reply
  6. Penwith Chris

    I am British and married a Filipina in the Philippines in a civil ceremony
    We came to live in the UK, but never got formally married in this country
    Can we become legally divorced in the United Kingdom given the permanence of marriage in the Philippines, and given that that’s the only place we made our marriage vows?
    If we were to return to the Philippines would we still be treated as legally married until we could apply for an annulment(if that’s even possible)?
    If either of us re-married given our current circumstances would we be guilty of bigamy?
    All very confusing, but thanks for any advice

    Reply
  7. shane

    I have a boyfriend who used to live in united states and that he is married here in the philippines before. Hes father was a retired US Navy and that all of them was being petioned to migrate in US. He filed an annulment while hes still in US. SInce were planning to get married he did follow up it but found out his ex wife doesnt sign the annulment paper. Its been more than 4 yrs already when my boyfriend filed the said annulment. My boyfriend is still in US and Im a filipina. Were having a problem about this, what will happen? Thank you.

    Reply
  8. leonibelle

    Hi,
    My fiance and i are planning to get married but the problem is he was married to black american here in manila and had their marriage dissolved in us..and my fiance was the petitioner for the dissolution of their marriage.. can we get married here in manila? we are also planning to get married in hk to prevent any hassles, does us embassy accepts marriages of foreign nationals to hk? do we need to register our marriage certificate in philippine embassy in hk?

    Confused.. please help

    Reply
  9. marvin

    Hello
    What happens if I marry my gf but I am a married man and my ex is also living with her bf. Hope you can give me advice. Thank you and more power.

    Reply
  10. Debo

    Sir,

    My wife and I were married in 1983 here in the Philippines. She is a Filipino citizen. She divorced me in 2002 when she transferred to the US. In November 2013, she got married to an American citizen. How do I get our marriage annulled? What are the requirements to have the divorce and subsequent marriage recognized here by our courts?

    thank you and more power to your service

    Reply
  11. honelyn

    gud pm po sir,tanong ko lang ano po BA IBIG SABIHIN ng “motion for leave to serve summons by publication”? base po sa post nyo mas una po yung summons before decision. may decision na po galing sa korte tapos binigyan po ako nitong summons by publication..

    Reply
  12. rona

    hi sir, i just want to know if my marriage is already void because my husband divorced me last 2012 he got married in the US. but we got married in the Philippines in 1996. we got separated last 2000. do i still need to file annulment or our court will accept our divorce? hope you can answer me thank u very much and Godbless!

    Reply
  13. Malou

    I am a filipina, married in Sydney with Aussie man, 5 years now, but our love grown sour, he neglect me,emotionally, physically and financially 4years now, I am here in Phil. My question is what is my right being a wife since we havent divorce yet. Many times i try to talk to Him but he refused. I really don’t know what to do, please help me.

    Malou

    Reply

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