Steps and Procedure in Annulment and Declaration of Nullity of Marriage

You thought you’ve found your perfect match. You thought your marriage is bound to last forever, or, at the very least, until the last breath. You’ve thought wrong, you say, and you now think of seeking legal remedy to end your marriage. Here are “steps” or suggestions in deciding whether to step out of the ring or not:

1. Make sure it is the last resort. As stated in a previous post, love and marriage are supposed to be forever. Try all options, like counseling, to make it work. If there’s no progress, weigh your options. On the other side of the scale is the reality that getting into another relationship or marriage, while the first marital bond is still existing, is a sure way of courting criminal liability (adultery, concubinage, bigamy). A subsequent petition for declaration of nullity/annulment of marriage is not a defense in the criminal action.

2. Realize that it will cost you. Getting out of marriage is sometimes more expensive than getting into one. Expenses include the fees for your lawyer or counsel, filing fees, professional fees for the psychiatrist or psychologist (if the ground is psychological incapacity), etc.

3. Discuss the custody of children, visitation rights, property arrangements and support. Custody over children and separation of properties in annulment are among the most bitter issues in annulment. As much as possible, discuss and agree on these matters beforehand.

4. Make sure to invoke a valid ground. Marriage is an inviolable social institution and any doubt is resolved in its favor. Hence, make sure there’s sufficient basis to go through the procedure discussed below.

The procedure provided under the Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages is discussed below. Please note that a petition for “annulment” refers to voidable marriages, which are valid until annulled by the court, while a petition for “declaration of nullity” refers to marriages that are considered void or inexistent from the very beginning. There are other differences (e.g., legitimate status of children, property relations between the spouses, prescription and ratification), but let’s leave those for another day. For convenience, we shall refer to both petitions as “annulment”.

1. Preparation and filing of the petition. The petition may be filed, at the option of the spouse who filed it (called the “petitioner”), in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the other spouse (called the “respondent”) resides for the last 6 months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, 7where he/she may be found in the Philippines. An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) may file the petition even while abroad. Incidentally, upon filing of the petition or anytime thereafter, the court may issue provisional and protective orders.

2. Service of Summons. In simplest terms, this is giving notice to the respondent. Where the respondent cannot be located at the given address or the whereabouts are unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry, service of summons may be done by publication. This is crucial because the court cannot validly proceed without service of summons.

3. Answer. The respondent must answer within 15 days from service of summons (or within 30 days from the last issue of publication in case of service of summons by publication). Unlike in civil cases, the respondent in annulment proceedings is not declared in default if no answer is filed, but the public prosecutor shall be ordered to investigate whether collusion exists between the parties.

4. Investigation report of public prosecutor. The public prosecutor prepares a report on whether there is collusion between the parties. If the court is convinced that collusion exists, it shall dismiss the petition; otherwise, the court shall set the case for pre-trial conference. The Rules dispensed with the requirement, as provided in Molina, that the Solicitor General issue a certification stating his reasons for his agreement or opposition to the petition.

5. Pre-trial conference. During the mandatory pre-trial conference, the court and the parties deal with certain matters, such as stipulation of facts, for the purpose of expediting the proceedings. The petition may be dismissed if the petitioner fails to appear during pre-trial. At this stage, the court may also refer the issues to a mediator who shall assist the parties in reaching an agreement on matters not prohibited by law (no compromise allowed in civil status of persons, validity of marriage or of legal separation, grounds for legal separation, jurisdiction of courts, and future support and legitime). The court may also require a social worker to conduct a case study and submit a report at least 3 days before the pre-trial conference, or at any stage of the case whenever necessary.

6. Trial. This is the stage where the ground for annulment is proved and opposed. The court may order the exclusion from the courtroom of all persons, including members of the press, who do not have a direct interest in the case.

7. Decision. After the trial proper, the court renders its decision, which is different from the Decree of annulment. A decision, whether granting or dismissing the petition, becomes final upon the expiration of 15 days from notice to the parties.

8. Appeal. The aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may appeal from the decision within 15 days from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration or new trial.

9. Liquidation, partition and distribution, custody, support of common children and delivery of their presumptive legitimes. These are done upon entry of the judgment granting the petition.

10. Issuance of Decree of annulment. The court issues the Decree after: (i) registration of the entry of judgment granting the annulment in the Civil Registry where the marriage was celebrated and in the Civil Registry of the place where the court is located; (ii) registration of the approved partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses in the proper Register of Deeds where the real properties are located; and (iii) delivery of the children’s presumptive legitimes in cash, property, or sound securities.

11. Registration of the Decree. The Decree must be registered in the Civil Registry where the marriage was registered, the Civil Registry of the place where the court is situated, and in the National Census and Statistics Office.

295 thoughts on “Steps and Procedure in Annulment and Declaration of Nullity of Marriage

  1. nadialrak

    i was wondering if you could help me… i’m a filipino married here in japan. I want to annul my marriage here. I tried seeking the Embassy’s help but they said i have to stay in the Philippines for a period of time for the processing… i wanted to know if i could file for annulment while i am here.

  2. glorie13

    Atty. ask ko lng po puede po ba ako mag file ng annulment or ano po dpat ko gawin eto po sitwasyon ko separated na me ng 17 years at may 2 anak ako with my ex husband, may ibang pamilya na ex husband ko they have 4 kids at besides kasal cla sa church I dont know how it happen kasal pa nman kami I really need ur advice Atty. what to do by the way Im still single at present

  3. sharynbrn

    hi…my brother and her wife separated last year….i want to know if it is necessary that he will provide everything for their children..he signed an agreement in the barangay hall but it was so unfair because his income is only 8000 a month and it is written in the agreement that he will give an allowance of 2000 a week and that the children will study will private school and now my sister in law demanding to rent a house for them…..she has no work shes just sitting and waiting for my brothers support is that fair for my brother?….is there anything we can do for it?……

  4. live_curious

    Who does the registration of the decree? Is it the two involved or the court that gave the finality of the annulment?

  5. joy0984

    I need help here..My situation is i am married with ex british army and we living here in the phillippines.we got 2 year old son..i leaftcoz he constant smacking my son,every small moves my son did he smack it..he has no patient at all.even to the nighbour,or the dogs whoch is bark..he easily get angry if he heared small noise..he is jelous and dont let me go out alone if i do like go to market..he always ask me or accused i have other man,and the truth is i dont have.he dont let me to have cellphone even call or text from my family using his cellphone he get angry he always moving house because he get enemy with neighbours and i feel embarrased he always shout at me.and shout in front of my ear. he alwats watch how much i eat also.i think he is phsycopath..before last year i left him alsocoz of his attitude i came back with him coz he told me he been seeing physcologist,told me what time he visit him and what they talk about …so i believe him.and he still not change now this year i left him again.i didnt show up for a month so he went to supreme court about his child right for our son..and the court granted him to see him 2 days a week.. i really dont want to go back to him after what ive gone through to do you think he got sign of phsycological incapacity? do u think they grand our papers.he still keep forcing me to live with him which is i dont want to do and treating me that we still married..i reallly had enough of his abusive attitude..hope you can help me with all of this..thank u so,much

  6. ed

    Sir I got married last 2007, my wife did not declare that she was married even when she renewed her PRC nursing license and her passport. June of 2010 her lesbian bestfriend/GF came back into our lives and started courting her. My wife said she told the lesbian to stop but she didn’t, it caused us to fight many times. She even with held information that the lesbian went to the condo where we are staying while I am at work. This sept 2011, when she came back for another vacation. She bluntly told me na sila na, she would have the lesbian visit her after i leave for work. I even caught them on a spy cam and real time having sex…caught them Sept 17, 2011 my wife naked and the lesbian half naked. Honestly, i want to file against the lesbian for meddling with my family life, i want to have the marriage dissolved. is there anyway i can ask both of their licenses to be revoked. my wife is a nurse while the lesbian is a civil engineer. How much will it cost and how long will it take? and what are the procedures?

  7. avic_03

    My friend was been tied up on a marriage on what so called “PANATA” by his parents in province, stating that the first girlfriend should be the one that their ‘Junior’ should marry. Unfortunely, the girl said to him that she is pregnant, and told to him that he is the father, not knowing that my he is the father of the child yet he still accepted it. His parents knew his problem and told their son to marry the girl thru civil wedding. The two couple obey the command of their parents and do the civil… but theres a mistake on the wedding because the only available in the Municipality is the registrar. The mayor went out for a vacation that time that’s why nobody solemnize their wedding. What they do is just they submitted needed requirements and then signed in the marriage contract.

    After the wedding, my friend found out that his ex gf has lots of boyfriends in school before they get wedd. and during the day of their livin together for 2-3 mos. he found out that she is even meeting chat mates abroad in Manila and doing cybersex with her auntie at home. At first, he thoughts its just only a rumors but when he made an investigation, he found the truth. Using Facebook as his first step, he found out that his wife has a lots of relation with lots of man in FB… when He went to Manila… he saw that his wife has another man. He confronted the guy, but when he came near to his wife, the guy told him, “Don’t touch her.. she’s my love”.

    Now everything is a doomed for him.. he wants annullment. Can you pls. advise what would be the best way to do? He really doesnt want to be with her… cause she has a very bad attitude too. He prefer to die rather than to be with her anymore.

  8. Jawhawker

    Filipino citizen legally residing overseas and need an marriage annulment? Simpler, quicker and (in many cases) less expensive solution – obtain foreign citizenship and avoid this scam. Maybe someday the Philippines will update their Family Law to recognize divorce, as does every other country on earth, but don’t get you hopes up anytime soon… far too many pesos at stake.

  9. danica25

    Atty Fred….

    My friend will file a case on annulment with his marriage with his wife this Monday hopefully because his wife is very irresponsible and he don’t feel love anymore as a counselling according with his lawyers kasama ba na magsama cla in house for 6 months and to try if mag work ulit ang relationship nila…as far as i know his wife cheated about money matters …May i know if may laban ba ang kaso ng friend ko saan po ba mahulog ang grounds nila sa Psychological Incapacity ba?

    Hoping for your answer and thanks…

  10. pinkmom

    Atty. i was separated for 5 yrs now( not legally) we have kids and i got married when i was only 16 to 17 yrs of age. is this a ground for annulment? what if my ex hubby dint comply on this matter? thanks to you… please send me a message on my email..thanks God bless!

  11. pinkmom

    Atty. i was separated for 5 yrs now( not legally) we have kids and i got married when i was only 16 to 17 yrs of means that they( his relatives)falsified my birth certificate, and i get pregnant only thats why my parents wanted me to get married, from then on i dint have a choice but to lived with him and had kids.Is this a ground for annulment? what if my ex hubby dint comply on this matter? thanks to you… please send me a message on my email..thanks God bless!

  12. boombastique

    sir, i have a question. i’ve been married for about 12years i think, and we never even lived together even after our wedding day. we have a daughter but she died after 24 hrs after being born. we filed a legal separation (i dont remember what month it was) but i dont know if it is registered or not (coz we both just signed the papers and gave it to my parents). then, after several months or 1 year i think, as i remember, she had lived in with another man and have his daughter who is now i think in kindergarten. and now she had her 2nd child i think last year. i dont have any intention of filing a case against her for i want to have my own relationship too but im afriad she might turn against me coz i wish to marry my girlfriend. is it possible for me to remarry even w/o annulment? would my case be enough to make the process of annulment fast? hoping for your kind and knowledgeable answer to my question and thank you so much in advance!

  13. harris

    Dear attorney,

    May I ask, is it really compulsary for me to publish in the newspapaper if my spouse has replied to the summon or else the the case is known as a sleeping case and it can’t proceed..

    Please advice..

  14. harris

    I am sorry what I meant was has not replied to the summon.. Must I need to publish the annulment at the newspaper?

  15. thea19

    Hi atty.. I want to ask about marriage there in the philippines!! Im almost divorced in my previous japanese husband in japan.. I want to married someday my boyfriend ther in the philippines did i need a court order?? To married again??


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