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.

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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.

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

  1. edcel

    atty, good day. im edz, male, ask ko lang po. may live in partner po ako ngayon, married sya before mga 2005 yata or 2006, with 2 kids sila.. hiwalay na sila since 2009 na because sinasaktan sya ng lalaki and palaging npapaaway at minsan nagbanta na magpapakamatay, (ngayon may karelasyon na ding iba yung guy).. in our part, 2013 po kami nagkakilala and may 1 anak kami. gusto sana namin magpakasal din. pano po namin magagawa yun atty? salamat po

    Reply
  2. philip

    good morning , I have a question , my girlfriend (Lea Sabalvaro was forced into a marriage by her parents when she only was 17 they lied on the certificate to the marriage (DOB ) 17.june 1995. the husbands name is Christopher r Aquino , I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF HER MARRIAGE IS LEAGAL OR NOT. her date of birth of the marriage 14.5.78 , the certificate says she was born in 1976. which is a lie. the husbands DOB 19.10.73.
    My girlfriend has lived in the UK for 15years and is now a British citizen with a UK passport .
    we would like to know if we are free to marry.

    Reply
  3. mario

    atty,
    ano kaya ang pede kong gawin sa asawa ko na wala ng power at laging mainit ang ulo nya at pinalalayas nya ako kung mainit ang kanyang ulo.
    pede ko ba syang idemanda.

    Reply
  4. Merly

    Hello po Atty!
    I am married to a frenchman in the Philippines last 2011, now we are currently living in France, he was never a husband to me, he is addicted to videogames he play almost 24 hours! I tried to keep our marraige but its too much! I found my life miserable…i don’t have any plans to remarry, i just want to be free coz its really not working for us and maybe would live happier alone.
    My question: is it préferable to file an annulment in Philippines and make it validated here in France or file a divorce here in France and validate in the Philippines? Other thing is the cost of annulment, etc. please give me some points to consider if possible i am willing to meet you once i am in the Philippines once to twice i a year i go on vacation.
    Thanks po ng marami…have a great day po!

    Reply
  5. Rochelle

    Wala na po yatang atty na nagrereply dito. Pero kung sino man po nakakaalam sana reply po kau sa itatanong ko. Pano po kung yung asawang may kasalanan o the guilty spouse ikanga, ay sya pa ang nagpapaannul ng kasal? Pwede po ba yun? Thank you po sa sasagot.

    Reply
  6. SAD

    what if someone is not happy with their relationship as a couple due to emotionally abused, can it be a ground to file a for a legal separation?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Jaycee

    Atty. Panu po kung nakikipag hiwalay sya sken tpus wala syang balak umuwi dito para asikasuhin ung annulment nmin tapus gusto lng nya pirmahan ko divorce paper na pinadala nya papanu namam po ako nun? Tnx

    Reply
  8. Isha

    Atty:

    I would like to know – if my ex Husband can sue me cause I’m pregnant now with my new partner although we are separated since 2013 and we file annulment on 2014 ( we are waiting for decision Til now )

    Reply
  9. Lyn

    Attorney I was married in Islam here n Philippines and we legalize it through passing the papers to NSO and DFA,Once i got divorce in Islam (Sharia Law) how would be my status in Phillipine Law?Could I still re married in civil wedding?Or do I need to get annul?Please answer.

    Reply
  10. Brian

    I recently met a woman from the Philippines, we have fallen in love and want to marry. Here is our situation,that we are seeking your expertise to advise.
    She married at age 18 ,they separated 2 yrs later no kids and have not been reunited since. She is 38 now. He has however remarried and has a child with new wife. Do we still need to go through the lengthy drawn out and costly annulment procedures? Or does this situation qualify her to get one of the quicker alternative type annulment? I live in the USA and she is currently working/ living in Hong Kong,we want to do everything legal and don’t want to have problems getting her visa etc. We were quoted $5,000 US dollars which we don’t have .
    Please any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

    Reply
  11. dan

    Thank You for having this site. It is truly a big help. I also want to share my situation and needing your expertise.

    Good day,
    I would deeply appreciate your help. I do not know where to start and what to do. I am a father of 2. We have a civil marriage before the second child was born in 2006-07 the reason why we got married is, I want to give her the security but I was wrong. Before the second child was born on 2007 my wife had an affair with the same gender after a few months of giving birth she went back to work unfortunately did the same thing, before and after the birth of our second child. When I found out in the pile of bills I decided to leave the house for good. After a few weeks she just left our kids with the in laws. The eldest was left with her parents and the second she went to my parents’ house and left the baby and she stayed with the other. I am ok with that arrangement without consulting me. Instead of filling a case on her. Almost 10 years past without any communication. I met someone and moved on to build another family. The current knows my situation about my first and she was ok with it. Until one day my eldest from her requested to celebrate his birthday with his baby sister. I agreed on it and we had a chance for closure. But she still asked me if there is a chance to be together. I never mentioned it to her that I already have another family. By the time she found out she threaten me to leave my second family. I got scared of what she can do. I tried to ignore her but she was just so persistent. She even found the name, address and the number of my second family and threaten them. I met her after that incident she asked me to call my second and tell her I will no longer continue our relationship. I did call them. To protect my second family, to give her the satisfaction hearing it. Now I am thinking of settling it for good but I do not know what I need to do first. I have lots of question about the conjugal properties and child possession from both first and second family. Since I left her years ago and she still carries my last name. My concern is I do not want her to claim any conjugal properties on what I have and can have. What is the best way going through the separation process that whatever I work hard for that she cannot get hold of. I am cautious to get a housing loan, a car loan and even a savings she might demand all of it. Please help me.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Dan

    Reply
  12. Honey

    Hi ,

    Question lang po… I have a husband for 14 years and we just recently found out like 2-3 years ago na di po pala xa naka register sa NSO… As in wala pala xang information na pinanganak xa… Yung hawak nya na Birth Cert was pinagawa lang pala ng namatay nyang tatay. Is this possible for nullity of our marriage?

    Reply
  13. Maygeb

    Hi good day attorney may asawa po ako sa pinas now may kinakasama na sya sa pinas almost 4yrs na poh..i was married last 2007..2013 hiwalay na kmi wlang communication at may pamilya na sya..anu poh ang gagawin ko pra maanull ang kasal nmin.

    Reply
  14. jamila

    Dear atty,
    Good day !
    about my situation, we’ve been married for 12 years(2002-2014) no baby. So umabot sa point na nagkaroon ng kabit yong husband ko pero nagkabati din, lately mga (2011) he joined this website called tagged he spend time chatting with different hirls i never mind kasi he doesnt meet them in person kaso nang tumagal he ask me if he could do meet ups, ang sabi nya just friends kasi di ko naman ma bigyan ng anak so i let him be hanggang sa umabot na he wants me to join tagged so we made my account so started chatting also until one day he ask if we could go on group date i thought it would be me and him, i was wrong it was him and a girl and i have to bring a date, dahil na galit ako i invited someone also , to show him i could also find someone kahit matanda na ako. i know it was a mistake but he says its anew adventure kasi hindi sya happy sa akin. kasi i was TANGA so i let him be. umabot sa point na pinapaalis niya ako sa house namin kasi doon daw sila matilog ng girl niya, so i made a decision na umalis at iwan sya. my Question its been 4 years now na wala talagang communication can i file for annulment his living with her girl sa bahay namin and i also want to get a new relationship. please advise me..

    Reply

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