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.

106 thoughts on “Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree

  1. Mari

    I was married in the Philippines when I went there on 2001 by a judge , I went back right away to the United States and we never live as a married couple, it’s been 7 years and I want To file. Divorce here and send it to him in the Philippines , would it be granted ?? Please help.

  2. Dee

    Dear Atty.,

    My European husband filed a divorce.

    Do i have to forward the divorce decree to the Philippine Embassy (or the Department of Foreign Affairs) and the National Statistics Office (NSO) right after the divorce?

    Can i file a petition in court for the recognition of the divorce decree without needing to fly to Philippines? Do i have to file it right away after the divorce or can this wait?

    How long may the petition take?

    How much will it cost me? I hope you will answer my questions. Thank you!

  3. florami

    Dear Atty. Fred,
    I have a foreigner boyfriend who had been married with a Filipina 5 years ago but sad to say that they broke-up…so my boyfriend filed a divorce in his country of origin and he already have that now…what shall we do so that the records in NSO will be void? and so that he can marry again here in Philippines.

  4. James

    My fiancé was married in the Philippines to a Japanese man, they divorced in Japan. I am a us citizen and we both live in Japan, we would like to get married, what does she need to do to have her divorce recognized in Philippines so she can get her certificate of being single? Thank you

    1. James

      Also, how much will it cost and can she file from Japan ao she don’t have to fly there. How long does the process take. Thank you very much

  5. Grace

    I got married to a naturalized US citizen but the marriage didn’t last long. He filed for divorce but he never gave me a copy of the divorce decree. I am still using his last name until now because he won’t give the paper I need to change it back to my maiden name. I found out a few months ago that he got married again. My question is how was he able to get married when there is still a record of our marriage in NSO? Is there a possibility that his second marriage is null and void? Someone close to him told me that he was able to get a cenomar. His last name is written usually two separate words I am thinking maybe he wrote his last name just one word maybe that’s how he got a copy of his Cenomar. We’ve been separated 10 years. Can I still file a case against him?

  6. Norman

    My wife was married in the Philippines the former husband was an American she was not married in a church there in Philippines the man divorced her in America my wife and i have been married for 12years now what ‘ is the easy way to null her marriage there before

  7. Jobeth

    Hello po Atty.
    I was married to an Indian guy in Delhi.Were been living together for 5 years then after few years of our marriage relationship was not been sucessful to stay together.So since 2009 until now 2016 were separated.My problems is i want to file a devorce and for the child custody for my son here in phils.But we got married in India by Hindu Marriage Laws.Atty.Is it valid my marriage here in phils even i have NO marriage record (CENOMAR) here in NSO?? Where is applicable to file my marriage devorce case to get granted fr remarry again? Philippines Civil Law can be obtain a foreigner marriage abroad by HINDU Marriage Act Laws 1955?? Also my cocerned my son’s naturized born here in Philippines and got petition him to changed his Filipino Citizen..That his father abandoned my son for 6 years and 10 months from now.Who have a rights custody for my son? The mother who take cares of the sons without support for his father or The father abandoned him for 6 years without seeing him and support?? What are the first step to getting petition for my son’s custody here in Philippines? Please advice me what to do Attorney..Im afraid to loosing my son custody..Thank you very for reading my long messages..Have a nice day and God bless you!!

  8. bella

    im married to my husband for almost 3 years now and we have baby together .now he back to his country now and i haven’t hear anything from him what i need to do so i can file a annulment or he can divorce me so if i can remarry again

  9. MFP

    Hi Atty.
    Im married to a korean man and i divorce him.i have the divorce paper.how can i apply my divorce paper here in the Philippines?please help me.
    Thank you so much.

  10. Rowena

    Good day Atty;
    I am a filipina who was married to a korean national here in philippines, we live together for two weeks and he went back to korea , i send there my marriage license copy so that he can register our marriage there. So he got a married status in korea. It happen that we had an argumemt through online and never come back again, we lost communication and some of my friends in korea told me that my husband had filed a divorce in the court.
    If that happen to be approved and i get the divorce paper from korea, can i apply for judicial recognition of divorce paper in court here in philippines,so that i can marry again?
    How or what would be the prove of its authentacation?
    God Bless and More Power

  11. Troll

    I am a foreigner (USA), was married in Quezon City in 2006. I am filing for Divorce here in the Marshal Islands (I am a Contractor working overseas). I just want to know since the divorce is not in my native country, is there going to be a problem. Also, want to make sure I will be free to marry in the Philippines after my Divorce in the Marshal Islands is finished.

  12. arlene

    HELLO Atty. Fred,

    my ex spouse who is a german national file a divorce in germany and been granted. i was wondering how the divorce can be recognized here in philippines since even the trial time i told them that was not the fair trial for me and only good for him since he is a german national and we enter the marriage was here in philippines way back 2004 and since 2008 till present we dont have any contact to each other.
    and another thing the lawyer i seek help in germany was running after me and giving me threat to file a case against me for fraud since even before i told him i want to seek legal aid which he did not do at all because he said the one i fill up was non sense but when im the one who file it for legal aid been granted and it did not cover his bill. is it possible he can file a case here in philippines against me? and if he do so what can i do to protect myself ? hope to hear from you soon.

    thanks and god bless

  13. Apple

    Hi Atty,

    I was married here in PH for almost 6 years now. My filipino husband is currently in Hawaii and filed for a divorce although he is not yet a citizen and they grant it. How can I use it in court to sever our marriage.



  14. Len

    Hi atty, My petition for recognition of foreign divorce decree is on-going for almost 2 years na, I have presented all the divorce documents na pinadala sa aking ng ex-husband ko, i-followed all the process and publications and everything, pero ang hinihingi sa akin ng Phil court ay ipa-certify ko pa sa U.S. court lahat ng documents na na-file ko. I Have to admit some of the documents were photocopies dahil yung original nakafile sa California county, pero yung Entry of Judgement from their court ay original ang sinubmit ko. It’s difficult for me to secure yung requirements nila dahil nasa U.S. yun and wala naman akong pwedeng mahingan ng tulong to get those certified. What other options do I have if in case hindi ko ma-comply lahat ng gusto ng RTC? Does this mean na madi-dismiss ang case ko?

  15. Len

    Sorry, atty to add to my previous post. My attorney also told me that the US Embassy here cannot certify my documents. Is there anything that we can request from the US Embassy to help substantiate my divorce papers? I was told by my attorney that my case would normally take only 10 months to process, kasi wala kaming anak or property ng ex-husband ko, and as far as I know me family na syang iba. I want to restore my single status para naman magamit ko yung mga benefits ko and at the same time remarry. Hope you can help me. Thank you


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