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.

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

  1. aurea

    weve been separated for almos 11 years..my ex has been living with with another girl…do i still need to apply for annulment if i plan to remarry ?

    Reply
  2. Mhayette

    Good evenining

    Mag 13 yrs n po akong Hiwalay s husband ko at wala po kmi ng communication, kahit po nag file ako ng annulment last 2011 , wala po kmi ng anak, pede n po bang maging bull and void un kasal nmin. Thank you po

    Reply
  3. Florendo

    Hi Atty Fred,
    Good day!
    kasal po ako year 2008, ten years kami nagsam ng wife ko, unfortunately there’s 3rd party. . we decided to stop our relationship last sept 2015.. 2017 nagka anak sya sa guy. .and the baby was under may surname. .pero hindi ko anak.. 2 years n kami hiwalay. . wala na rin akong balak habulin sya. .paano po kaya yun? gusto ko magfile ng annulment kaso wala po ako pera. . nasa custody ko rin po yun 3 namin anak. .wala pong sustento galing sa kanya. . ano po pwede kong gawin. . Salamat po

    Reply
  4. JUVYLINDA

    Dera atty,

    I am married to my husband and not legally separate. We have no siblings if possible can i claimed a spouse support to my husband?

    please replay.
    thanks, juvy

    Reply
  5. Jay

    hello Atty. Fred it is possible namawalan po ako ng license or ma cancel with my proffesion as a nurse kung idemanda po ako ng ex-wife ko with concubinage incase na di po ma grant ang annulment namin? thank you

    Reply
  6. Tuttie

    Atty Fred, I would like to ask in behalf of my friend. Is it considered as grounds for annulment if the reason is fell out of love? Yung kasal kase nila is out of awa sa babae. What are the possible things to do para mapabilis ang annulment nila?

    Reply
  7. P'Girl

    Dear Attorney,

    We separated 3yrs ago but I can say I am a good single mom. I’m currently overseas since last year.

    Last September 2015, I separated with my husband. From that on, we never had a face to face communication. The only communication is on messenger pag ipinapadala niya ang resibo ng padala niya para sa anak naming 5 yrs. old. Since we separated, he only sent money 8 times.

    We got married last April 30, 2012 because I was pregnant and my mother doesn’t want me to deliver an illegitimate child so she prepared for my wedding. I was 20 yrs old back then. I’m a runaway bride but I have to go to my mom since I didn’t bring any money to pay for the taxi.

    After the wedding maybe a week, I saw my husband differently. He was like out of his mind for a minute or two and he is pointing somewhere. After giving birth, that event keeps on happening and it’s getting worse. So, I confronted him and he admit that he was experiencing that since he was in college. We went to the hospital. He has a Complex Partial Seizure Disorder and there is no cure for it, all we can do it to prevent it from occurring every time but his illness gone worse. Sometimes seizure occur 3x a day anytime. I did my part to take good care of him. I always asked him to take his medicine, not to do the things that triggers his sickness but he never deal with it seriously.

    What’s wrong with him as well is that he’s poor in hygiene. I needed to ask him to take a bath, to brush his teeth and to keep his things organized.

    He never called my parents mommy or daddy only “tito and tita”. I did my best to be the best partner, if his illness attacks him, I hugged him. I do his lesson plan, I do the household chores, I go to work with my baby.

    I asked him to please take good care of himself too but he never listened. I told him that I’m getting tired of his negligence and I’m falling out of love but he didn’t believe me. Time flies and my love faded, I can’t even look at him while doing the thing. I was crying and it hurts.

    Since there is no hope to save our marriage, I broke up with him. I became a single mom. He borrowed our son thrice since we separated.

    I had a boyfriend after him but I decided to broke up with that man to settle everything first. I want to file a legal separation and annulment. What can be my ground? I always wanted to have an annulment but I think I need to wait for the Divorce bill for cheaper expense.

    I know people cannot understand me. All they know is that my reason is not valid.

    Please help me. I don’t have any thought of going back to him. I have a man I wanted to be with. He loves me since I was in High school that was 10yrs ago, he’s even waiting until now.

    Please I need your help attorney. I’m getting desperate. Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    P’Girl

    Reply
  8. Anna

    hello po atty fred. ask po ako if ground po for separation ang recorded video call having intimate sexual act? is it still sex infedility kahit they have no physical contact?

    pls reply po… salamat po.

    Reply
  9. anthony

    hello
    if a filipino woman still living in her country with two children aged 13 and 18 and has lived apart from her husband (who is filipino) with her two children for 11 years or more with no surpport or contact from him.can she get married in another country as in the uk.or do she have to file for devorce first.

    Reply
  10. Janine

    Hi Atty. Gusto ko lang po malaman ano ang pwede kong gawin kung madalang na pong umuwi husband ko (3x a week). Matagal na po kaming di magkasundo at alam ko pong may iba na syang babae though wala akong physical evidence. Wala po syang malasakit sa kin at di na nya ginagawa ang mga obligasyon nya bilang asawa. I am emotionally ang psychologically abused. Maari bang paalisin ko sya sa bahay namin but at the same time humingi ng financial support? Wala kaming anak at naka mortgage pa ang bahay namin for 10 yrs. Wala din akong trabaho. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  11. chichi

    Hi. We were both Filipinos when we got married in the Philippines. Fast track..Separated for more than 20 years, He is now in the states and is now a US Citizen. He has filed for annulment in the States. Should this be granted, is this recognize in the Philippine law or I should file for annulment in the Philippines separately?

    Reply
  12. dante

    atty. ano po ba ang kasong pde ko isampa sa asawa ko kasi po sumama sya sa lesbian can i file a legal separation?

    Reply
  13. Rose

    Atty.. tanong ko lang po..asawa ko nasa finland nag asawa sya duon at nag ka anak. Matagal nyang hindi sinabi. Kung makikipag hiwalay ako makaka kuha pana ba siya sa mga naipundar namin?

    Reply
  14. Florence

    dear atty fred,

    papano po ba ang proseso ng pagfile ng annulment
    nandito po ako ngaun sa oman and 1 year and 8 months na po akong hindi nakikisama sa ex wife ko. sobra po kasing sinira ng ex wife ko ang name ko sa lahat ng tao dito maging sa lahat ng mga other frens ko abroad and in the Philippines. may dalawa po kaming anak pero di ko po sila pinababayaan . pwede ko po bang gawing grounds yun para mapawalang bisa yung kasal namin po. sana po matulungan niyo po ako sobrang hirap na po ng kalooban ko sa ginawa niyang iskandalo sa akin at sa family ko.

    Reply

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