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.

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

  1. Ferdinand

    Atty, im been sepated with my ex wife for 5 years noe i found a new love and already have a child with her, im been very supportive to my children from my ex wife shouldering everything they need from personal to school.. Noe my ex wife to have her own financial support from me, and i think it woukd be too much for me to grant it but she keep on asking for it..does she have the right to ask for personal financial support? Is there a law that will order me or she could use to grant her request, can u give ne sone advise what should i do to be free from her..thnks atty more power

  2. jhansen

    what if we’re not living together in 2yrs. and we had a signed document in barrangay is this valid as a legal separation?

  3. harriet

    greetings atty,
    I have a partner and he is married with the his former partner , they have 1 daughter and the wife is married now with a foreigner husband, the wife also has 2 additional kids with different father, can this be ground for nullity of their marriage? they don’t have contact for 7 years now, my bf is afraid to re marry because hes afraid that she will not see her daughter anymore.

  4. Jholy

    Hi! Im Jholy .Im married when i was 18 yr old our married date is Nov. 26,2007.after 1 year ng hiwalay po kmi .8 months pla po yung anak q that time .ng file po ako nang case sa dswsd for support hind umatend dswd ng file court criminal case 5132 date December 10, dahil po mg abroad that tym ng compromise settlement nlng po kmi .na close po nang March 7,2012. na dapat mg support sya bis piso wala po siyang na support .8 years old ank namin. my ka live in na po siya dalawa po ang ank.simula po nung 2009 wla na po tlga kmi contact hearing po kmi ng kita nun after march 12,2012.hind narin ngkita at no contact.Ask q lng po paanu po aq mg file for annulment ?

  5. kat


    i just want information about updating the status here in the philippines. My auntie is 11 years old divorcee and wants to update her status here in the phil. I called the nso hotline but they mentioned that i should process the divorce papers to any court here in the Philippines. Im seeking for your advise what is the process and where should i start. Thank you so much Atty, you can email me.

  6. Marie

    Hello attorney what will i do if i want to void or get my marriage husband been gone for a couple of years now..we been married for 5 years..i dont know where he is news from him..i want my marriage void since my son doesnt deserve a father who abandoned us..thank u..

  7. katy

    hi atty

    i just want to know what will be the process to update the status of my auntie here in the Philippines from married to divorcee//She was divorced for 11 yrs from now in japan. Thank you.You can email me as well. thank you

  8. Sam

    My spouse hide from me his first marriage.and before we got married,he contacted his first wife.what case can i file to my spouse,as well as to the first wife that i felt they betrayed me for a long years?
    That after 5 years of married life,i found out that from the beginning,my marriage was void.that my spouse do nothing to annulled his first marriage.and to the first wife,i also want to file a case against her.because since then,she knew that the man she married was going to get married again to me and she do nothing,too.

  9. Cat

    I need to know kung pano mg annulment dto sa pinas dhil married sa forigner pero devorce sa bansa ng forigner.. Please reply me… Pano po i file iyon…

  10. karen

    ako po c karen gusto ko pong ma annul ung kasal ko dhil ang asawa ko nki apid sa ibng babae..anu po ang dpt kng gawin???..taga palawan po ako…gustong gusto ko pong mawalan ng bisa ang kasal namin…

  11. zarina

    Good Day!
    Im Zarina Oro,ask ko lang po pwede po ba ako mgpaannull sa ibang bansa ung process or pwede po ba ako mgpakasal sa ibng bansa kht d ako totally annulled.

  12. zarina

    ask ko lng po sna ung situation namin ng boyfriend ko.ns america po cya at divorse n.gusto po sna nya dalhin ako dun at pakasalan kaso d pa po ako annull dto.willing nmn po cya mgbayad ng annullement ko kso mhabang process meron po bang ibng options kmi pwede gawin.iniisip ko po n mgpakasal kmi s ibang bansa pr my papers ako n kasal ako s knya.mgiging safe po b un..Atty help nyo ako please.gusto ko po kc matulungan ang anak ko my leukemia kya un din po purpose ng boyfriend ko n mkpunta dun at mdla mga nyo ako kung ano best n pwede ko gawin.

  13. Raaj


    I am a Pakistan national, i married to a Filipino in Pakistan march 2010. My wife is married and separated in Philippine. but not legally. after marriage we shifted to Malaysia. borne 2 daughters here. we got the Malaysian birth certificate and Philippine passports for our daughters. with my and my wife names. what is the procedure for divorce and is this safe for my wife and daughters to go back Philippine? as i am thinking about her ex husband can file a case against my wife. Please advice and if we need legal support from you can you provide, and how is the fee structure. thanks

  14. jhenn

    Atty. Fred

    Im married last aug. 2013 but after 11 months me n my husband are separated bec he want us to going home to my parents n his not able to feed us bec. His only work as a farmer he only give me 500-1200 pesos for budget for 3 weeks my parents support us when it comes to some needs inside the house n needs of my child then he also always drunk when he rich home at middle of the night.then he go to his friend n going to a bar .but after 6 months we separated we try again to live together but still happen again what he do but at this time much worst he do im came home again to my parents n put dots to our i file an annulment case and im i remarry again in foreig or in other country??


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