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.

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

  1. Yumi

    Gud pm atty. mapapawalang bisa po ba ang kasal ng mag asawa pag 7 years ng hindi nagsasama tapos yung isa ay may iba ng kinakasama? 7yrs n rin sila nung kinakasama nya. Pwede na po ba ulit yun magpakasal? yung friend ko kc iniwan ng asawa at sumama sa iba yung asawa nya.

  2. Jackson

    Hello, am a black guy married to a Filipino , both of us met outside Philippines but got married in court in Philippine. Now after 8years she started having affair with his college sweet heart and I found out. I asked her to break it of and she told me she did. But now she told me she need space then moved to Philippines where the boy is, she didn’t tell. The boy is also married with 1 kid now. When I try to make her feel no guilt she told me the love she have for me is still there but she is afraid is not enough and cannot give me the full love I am expecting. I have tried every possible ways and means to save my marriage but she is not giving me a chance. IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE LAW THE I CAN DO TO THE BOY?, I can wait for her to come back but I want to know if she doesn’t come back what is my option in terms of annulment so that she will move on and I can remarry, ?
    We don’t have any kid yet and I truly love her and want her to be happy, which is to say if leaving our marriage will make her happy am willing to help her.

    Can I file for divorce decree in my country and she can remarry again.? Or should I wait for her to come back?

    Please do need your advice.

    Thank you

  3. Jcgarciasembrano

    Kasi po ang ginagamit kong surenme ay ubg sa father ko ehh kaka annul lang nila this year!

    Maari po bang mapalitan ung surename ko ng surename ng mother ko?

  4. Sam

    My spouse hide from me his first marriage.and before we got married,he contacted his first wife to tell that he’s gonna get married again.they had an agreement about it.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.pleAse answer my quiry please..

  5. Christian mark

    Dear atty.
    Inquire q lng po…
    Married aq ng 2008, i was only 18 s civil weeding at naging wife q eh 24 years old, kinasal kami ng walang sign ang father q dahil nasa saudi, pwede b un maging grounds para s nullification ng marriage kasi, 8 years n din kmi hiwalay, merun kmi isang anak n babae., merun n kmi parehas sariling buhay at pamilya, recently i found a message galing s kanya requesting qng anu, pwede q maitulong para maging legal family sya ng bf nya… Sana makatulong po kau sa sakin… Wiling nmn ako n makasal sya sa iba for the sake n din ng daughter q at para n din s ikakatahimik…

  6. Emil

    Its been 10yrs nung nag separate kmi ng dting wife ko.nagpirmahan din kmi infront of our barangay captain na wla ng kmi pakialaman sa isat isa.after ng separation nmin wla na ako blita.eto lang 2014 dumating na yung babae alam ko pra s akin.gusto ko makasal na kmi pra maayos status nmin ano dpat gwin ko po sna matulungan nyo po ako.

  7. anonymous

    gud day atty., i would like to ask for an advice regarding my issue, my husband and i, had a civil marriage before and the municipal mayor was not there we just waited for the marriage contract to be signed and be given to us, then when i got a job, to be able to be hired i arrange the validation of our marriage (church validation ceremony as they call it), without the knowledge of my husband as in i just ask him to attend the mass with me and there the ceremony happened. it was actually conducted by our parish priest. is it valid?

    i am asking this because since that day my husband always accuse of having an affair with other man and the worst at present his accusing my students. he asked me to erase my fb app on my phone and all other forms of social media /communication i can have he even always check my call logs when i get home, and when i cant answer right away or reply his calls and txt he keeps on texting or calling all the nos he copied from my phone book to check if i am really in school or about my whereabouts. i feel so ashamed of myself because of all the scandalous hes making, yes i feel scandalous because in the first place o know that we have a problem “personal problem” but then because of what his doing he was the one who opened the issue to my students and colleagues.

    he even wakes our daughter in the middle of the night then asked her who will she choose to stay alive, “ME” or “HIM”. we always argue but as a wife i keep on explaining to my daughter not to get angry with her father cause still his the father but until now we already had a son but still his getting worst. he saw a picture of my student and me in my laptop and that was taken during the assembly of the students in manila and i cant explain to him anymore because he wont listen. i even showed him picture of mt and my students but still nothing change. i dont know what to do anymore. i dont have that money to have an annulment but i want to make our marriage invalid as in no strings attached anymore as in even on the custody of our children he doesn’t even have a job (his asking me to stop and quit my job) i am the bread winner. iam just prolonging my patience because his still the father biologically of my children but its been 6 years since were married (Befor that were 6 yrs bf/gf) thats why i dont know what happened.

    me and my children were now living with my parents but still he keeps on coming there to see them, which i dont i want it anymore i feel uncomfortable every time his around and i feel unsecured for my children. i even worry on my childrens custody.

    i need your advice, please i want to have an annulment but the cost will take s fortune for me to pursue. is there any other way? pls send me your advice asap this is my present situation. pls i need help for my children.

  8. Ann

    I just want to inquire what is the first steep how to process annualment in philippines? I found thaf my X husband married in other woman without annual to me, i want to cut my my marriage to him but I dong have Idea how to start? I hope you can help me in this matter.
    Thank you ,

  9. Catherin

    Good evening Atty. Tanong ko lang po about my fiance situation nasa U.S po sya ngayon then he wants to marry me here in Philippines. Ang problem is kasal sya sa huwes sa una nyang asawa sa Bacolod pero saglit lang ang tinagal ng pagsasama nila bilang mag-asawa kasi inabando na sya almost 17yrs. Til now ay wala syang balita or communication sa wife nya. Possible po ba na pwede syang magpakasal uli? Gusto ko lang po Kasi malaman.

  10. Catherin

    Fil-Am po ang fiance ko. Medyo worried lang po Ako ang naguguluhan kasi 1st time kong ikakasal kung sakaling pwede ulit makasal ang fiance ko sa akin kahit na wala na syang balita sa dati nyang asawa.

  11. Natie

    Hi seperated with my husband in philippine for almost 10years..and now i have a taiwanese boyfriend and we having plan to marry by next year..can i marry him even im not annuled..can we married in taiwan or else in philippine.pls reply its me natie

  12. Pablo

    Pinakasalan ko yung ex wife ko dahil nabuntis ko siya pero pinalaglag niya ng di ko alam after noon pinakisamahan ko pa rin gusto kung magkaanak kami pero ayaw niya nagsama kami mula ng 1990 hanggang 1998 september ng umalis ako abroad and nagluluko na pala siya ng mga panahon na malayo ako umuwi ako ng may 2001 hang August bumalik ako and 2002 march tumawag ako and ang sumagot ay ang lalaki niya tapos kinausap niya ako at nagsinungaling siya sabi niya nasa bahay siya pinatingnan ko siya sa bahay wala naman siya sa madaliang sabi doon ko tinapos ang relasyon namin at yung aming marriage contract ay dinaya namin ang EDAD naming dalawa kasi bata pa ako noon 19 lang ako at siya ay 22 that time ang tanong ko valid po ba yun o hindi and naghiwalay kami ng 2002 mula noon wala na akong personal communication sa kanya pero ang balita sa akin ng kapatid niya may naging karelasyon siya na una bago yung live in partner niya presently now gusto ko lang malaman kung pwede na ba akong magpakasal uli ngayon na di ko na kailangan ng ANNULMENT mag 46 na ako and i have also in relationship for almost 5 years and i don’t have enough time to arrange all papers because I work abroad i have only 30 days vacation every 2 years


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