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.

536 thoughts on “Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers

  1. mealyn balogbog

    Dear atty. I want to get remarry in other country.. Ive been separate for 2 years but not legally.. What should i do.. Can i get marry with out filling annulment in the Philippines?.
    Tnx hope for reply so soon.

  2. Levy

    Hi Atty. Fred,

    Eight years na po kaming di nagsasama ng awasa ko. maayos naman po ang samahan namin kahit hiwalaya na kami. tulungan din kami sa gastusin sa anak namin. gusto ko na din magpakasal sa girlfriend ko kahit sa civil lang muna. May nagsabi po sa akin tungkol sa “Mutual aggrement” ano po ba ang dapat kong gawin?

    Maraming salamat.

  3. NM

    Good day Attorney!!! I just want to ask if for example, a husband and wife got married in the church in the Philippines and separated, the husband converted to Muslim and after 2 years got married again in a Muslim rights with a Christian lady, marriage happened in UAE. Does the first wife has the right to complain even if her ex husband is already a muslim? Is this an example of bigamous marriage? Is the marriage valid in UAE as this was done in a muslim rights?

    Thank you once again

  4. Patrick

    good morning meron po bang form na dapat i fill up for annulment…Thank you so much will wait for your reply

  5. gee

    Dear Atty.,

    I just got married last year for my long time boyfriend. we’ve been together for 7yrs. I went to Dubai and we are still together. Last 2013 he asked me to resigned and go back to Philippines and get married. so we got married on Oct last yr. but then after getting married, like for only 5 days after the wedding i found out that he was cheating on me. and even if we are married already they are still together. and he even told me that he loves that lady and he dont love me any more. he even asked me to go home to my parents.he pushes me away and called me some things which is not really good.. and now I just want to file an annulment. Do u think i am able to win the case? we dont have kids. what grounds for this kind of situation?

    Your reply would be highly appreciated.Thank you.

  6. rhemz


    i want to break up with my husband,for some reasons:for 10 years we’ve been together he never done anything for living,hes not helping me im always having a 5’6 for financial needs to both of us,im sick and im tired of my situation being a wife of him,ive done everything to support understand,patient,love..etc..but things get worst until now…my dream for my career was stuck because of him. every year runs till present i am the only one who makes our relationship not be broken…but it seems that hes not making any sense..i need your advice atty that can help me…i decided to file separation nalang…please advise me.

  7. Paul

    Atty, i have a lived in partner and she is married to her husband long time ago . She is just a plain housewife and I am the provider . I felt she is cheating on me so i want her out of my life does she have right to have a share in my properties as my common spouse if we separate ?

  8. Marilyn

    Dear Atty.
    I would like to ask if I can file an annulment case to my husband because I discovered that he has having an affair with other woman. Can I use these ground to file a petition of an annulment. Thank you. I’ll wait for your reply.

  9. Billy

    Is it against the law for a husband and wife who have been separated due to violence and abuse and live in separate homes for 3 years have a live in boyfriend or girlfriend in there separate homes? Both married parties are Philippines citizens

  10. joe

    Do you have a link from your site who have reviewed your services (as legal advisor)? I would like to know how effective your firm is when it comes to legal advise. I am pertaining to your client’s review corner. If you could provide a link that will be highly appreciated.


  11. joe

    I would like to ask a question about how long the process and completion of petition of annulment, I just read an article about the period of time is base on the location of the petitioner for example I live in QC, the Atty says in QC it will take around 3-5 years, in Caloocan, Makati, Pasig and Mandaluyong it would only take 2 years. So if I want to file in Pasig to get a lesser time of case completion, would that be fine? Please enlighten me Atty. Thank you and more power to your site.


  12. mavic

    Dear Atty.,
    Ask ko lang po, nagwwork ako abroad, lagi nalang po kaming may hindi pagkakaunawaang magasawa, masakit po sa ulo at lalo na sa dibdib, kung makikipaghiwalay po ba ako sa kanya sakin mapupunta ang mga anak ko? dalawa po anak namin isang 7yrs old at isang 1yr old. , kung sakali pong oo ok lang pokaya na parents ko ang magaalaga sa mga anak ko since nagwwork ako abroad? thanks po!

  13. tanya

    Hi atty…inquire lng po. Separated po ako more than 11years na…since day one ng separation ni singkong kusing walang bibigay n sustento ang husband ko sa amin. Cause po ng separation namin-laging naglalasing at pag nalasing nananakit as in nananakit talaga, d nagbibigay ng pera kahit me trabaho,d tumutuling sa mga gawain sa bahay at sa mga bata, laging naglalakwatsa…atty. isa po xang mute deaf…hindi nkapagsalita at d nkakarinig.
    Ngayon me karelasyon ako…pls help ano b dpat ko gawin na mawalang bisa kasal namin. Wala po akong ganong kalaking pera para annulment.
    Godspeed po.

  14. Roxanne

    3 years na po kami kasal sa asawa ko na Iranian National at hindi na siya nagsesend sa akin ng pera at balak ko siya kasuhan ng Financial abuse & 3 years na po ako inasbandona na asawa. Masaklap pa rin po na pangyayari hindi na po siya nagpapadala ng pera hindi na niya ako pinupuntahan dito sa pinas kahit may sakit pa ako noon at wala siyang concern na asawa. balak ko kasi magpaannulled ng kasal. give me for advise me about my situation

  15. lime


    im here in abroad im married and separated almost five yrs ago and we had three kids without his support and i raised them alone with me…bcoz he had now new live-in partner and had one child..
    could it be possible im remarried again to a foreigner and file a case for annulment..??


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