Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree

Divorce is not allowed in the Philippines and divorce secured anywhere by a Filipino is not recognized in this jurisdiction.We already have a number of discussions on this (read more here and here). In certain instances, however, a divorce validly secured abroad by a non-Filipino may be recognized here in the Philippines.

What are circumstances that would make Article (Family Code) applicable?

We have a basic discussion on Article 26 of the Family Code (click here: Divorce and Annulment in the Philippines). Included in that discussion are the two elements that must be shown before the second paragraph of Article 26 is applied:

  1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and
  2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

Is this provision applicable to former Filipinos?

Yes. See the discussion here.

This law provides that the divorce must be secured by the foreigner-spouse. What if the foreigner-spouse continually maltreats the Filipino/Filipina spouse, isn’t it unfair that the Filipino/Filipina can’t initiate divorce?

It may be unfair, but that’s the law, consistent with the State’s policy of not allowing divorce for Filipinos. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Filipino/Filipina has no other recourse. If the circumstances fall under the grounds for annulment/declaration of nullity, then the marriage could still be annulled or declared null and void from the beginning.

If there’s already a divorce validly secured abroad (by the foreigner-spouse or the Filipino spouse who became a foreign citizen, losing his/her Filipino citizenship in the process), can the Filipino spouse immediately remarry?

No. The existence of a valid divorce decree, however, does not automatically entitle the Filipino to remarry in the Philippines. The foreign divorce decree must be judicially recognized in the Philippines. This means that the proper action or petition must be filed in a Philippine court. For purposes of re-marriage, the divorce validly secured abroad is not automatically recognized here in the Philippines.

Isn’t it enough that I already forwarded the divorce decree to the Philippine Embassy (or the Department of Foreign Affairs) and the National Statistics Office (NSO)?

No. The foreign divorce decree must be recognized here in the Philippines; a process which may only be done through the courts.

Why should we waste money in filing a petition in court for the recognition of the divorce decree?

This is the requirement of law, unfortunately. The divorce decree must be proven, just like any fact, in court. The presentation of the divorce decree is insufficient. Proof of its authenticity and due execution must be presented. This necessarily entails proving the applicable laws of the jurisdiction where the foreigner-spouse (who could be a former Filipino) is a national. One of the requirements under Article 26 is that the decree of divorce must be valid according to the national law of the foreigner.

132 thoughts on “Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree

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  4. alvincurren

    I’m an American. I married a filipina there in the R.P. and discovered she was defrauding me for money and a green card. I am in the process getting an anullment based on that fraud. But now I have met another filipina that I would like to marry.

    Does a foreigner need to have his marriage judicially recognized to remarry as well?

      1. Ann

        Does this also apply to the naturalized citizen who filed for the divorce? Let’s say if the naturalized citizen wanted to remarry in the Philippines..

        1. Louie

          This is the question that I think jutisprudence has not answered yet. Everyone seems to be quoting Philippines vs. Obrecido III –but that doctrine applies to a case whete a Filipino was dovirced by a foreign spouse. True the Filioino spouse needs to obtain a decree to validly remarry. The answer I too seek for is what happens if it’s the FORMER FILIPINO who became a foreign citizen, and sibsequently obtained a valid divorce–does he/she still need to file for petition for recognition of divorce if he/she, who is now a foreign national, seeks to marry a Filipino ?

    1. PO3 Radelyn

      gud pm sir..sana po mabigyang linaw nyo po ang dilemma ko..nag pakasal po kmi sa church ng ex husband ko nuong 2004 na me 5 yr old na baby boy..after nun bumalik na xa sa london bilang nurse (teacher po ako by that time) dun na din sana kmi titira wid my kid..pero nagdalawang-isip ako..hindi ko itinuloy…sa mindanao pa din ako tumira sa parents nya…nun malaman ko na nagsasama na cla ng british na katrabaho nya sa nursing home na me apat na anak na…umuwi ako sa amin sa romblon at nag apply sa pnp ngaun eh PO3 na ako..in SEPTember 2014..nagpadal xa ng divorce papers…sinagutan ko lahat yun since 2007 pa naman ako na alang allotement galing sa kanya..gusto ko na matapos ang kung ano meron kmi.hindi na po ako nag ask for guidance sa abogado..in OCT 2014 lumabas ang resulta ng pag file nya..officially divorced na daw kmi..kakatuwa pero nung mag tanopng ako about sa akin dito sacphilippines hindi rin pala honored dito..matagal na ata xang british citizen.38 yrs old na po ako ngaun..gusto ko na din magkaron ng pamilya na akin ngaun..bakit po feeling ako naloko pa din ako? di pa din ako pwedi magpakasal dito sa atin????pls help me.. what po gagawin ko para ma recognize dito ang result ng divorce..

  5. olin taha

    I have some observations about Article 26 of the Family Code. It says that it must be the foreigner spouse who obtains the divorce in order for the Filipina spouse to be capacitated to remarry here. But what if it’s the Filipina spouse who obtains the divorce because of physical violence or attempt against her life. Would she be incapacitated to remarry because Art. 26 is specific that it must be the foreigner spouse who obtains the divorce? Sounds unfair. Maybe this needs some curative legislation.

    1. Atty.Fred Post author

      Olin, you are right, that scenario needs a curative legislation — whether Congress would pass such a law is an entirely different matter. One of the questions most likely to be raised is this: why not extend that right to a Filipino married to another Filipino? The opposition to that proposal is likely as intense as the opposition to the divorce bill.

      1. divorcelaw

        Hi atty. I am divorced to my husband and needs to get it recognized in the country…i would like to know where i can obtain a copy of the divorce law? He filed in TN. I have the decree but its different from the law itself. That’s the only requirement we need so we can push thru with it. Hoping for your reply. Thanks in advance.

  6. julieta

    (cont. of julieta)
    …in short po, wala po akong kinakasama until now, disgrasya po ang pangalawa…at ni kailan po di po nya nakita ang anak nya.. gusto ko po malaman kung paano mawalang bisa ang kasal ko sa kanya, ano po ba ang una kong gagawin? di ko po kasi magamit ang single name ko dahil nga po sice nag aral na mga anak ko kailangan na po nila ng mga identification ko im my married name,, so lahat po ng application gamit ko in my married name.. pls help me po. thnx

  7. julieta

    dear atty,
    im a single parent of my 2 kids, 14yrs old and 12 yrs old.pareho po silang lumaking walang ama,

  8. julieta

    (cont…fr julieta)
    ..magkaiba po ang ama nila,, kasal po ako sa una, at dala dala po namin hanggang ngayon ang apelyido ng ama sa una kong anak,, ginamit ko rin po ang apelyido nya sa pangalawa kong anak kahit di sya ang ama nito, ang dahilan ko po dahil nga kasal ako sa una…anyway nakasal po ako yr 1995 at that time buntis po ako sa kanya ng 5months, actually po di po talaga kami magkasama, pinahanap lang po sya ng lolo ko, buntis na po me ng 5months at ayaw nyang maging illigitimate ang apo nya sa tuhod.. at that day din pagkausap sa kanya ng lolo ko agad kami pinakasal kinabukasan sa city hall, huwes lang po.. at nung araw din yun nagpaalam din ang ex-husband ko na kailangan nyang bumalik sa trabaho nya.. at mula nun hanggang ngaun di na po sya nagbalik,,bale 14yrs same age ng anak nya na anak kong panganay..

  9. julieta

    (cont. of julieta)

    Sorry po sa issue of annulment pala dapat me magsend ng message,, paki forward nalang po,, tnx

  10. pacman

    dear atty,
    in oct 2000, i was married in civil rights in the US to a filipina who was a naturalized US citizen before our marriage. in jan 2001, we got married in church here in the philippines. our marriage did not last long and she filed for divorce not long after. divorce was granted. she also filed for church annulment and recognition of foreign divorce. church annulment was granted both in the court of first instance and appelate court in 2005 and 2007 respectively. only the petition for recognition of foreign divorce is still pending. do i have to file a separate petition for the recognition of foreign divorce or do i just follow up on the petition which she already filed. she is not following it up anymore. after all, being a US citizen she is not bound by philippine laws and can actually marry again. article 26 applies to my case, right? what are your thoughts? thanks.

  11. nins

    I’m here in canada for only 1 yr and married in the philippines for 7yrs but separated(not legal) for 5yrs. I want to file a divorce here in canada but i’m not planning to remarry for now(maybe for d future) is it possible?!!

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  13. ABG

    Hello Atty Fred. I am a foreigner and was married to a Filipina in Manila. The marriage was a hoax since I found out the only intent of the marriage was to “go to America”. The marriage was never consummated and the Filipina disappeared shortly after. I was granted a divorce in the US about a year after the disappearance. The divorce was correctly processed with attempted service in Manila (without success since she disappeared) and with publication both in Manila and the US. My question is, am I now free to remarry in the Philippines and the US? Do I have to file the US divorce decree in the Philippines? If so, where and how. Thanks, Atty


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