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.

149 thoughts on “Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree

  1. Ofe;ia Fera

    i was divorced from my ex-husband, he filed the divorced in Australia 2004 and i already have my divorce certificate now i would like to indicate in our marriage certificate that i am already divorce …how would it c be done.?? or how can this be processed? How much would be the cost? Thanks and hoping to receive positive reply from you.

  2. Lily

    I am married to a foreigner year 2006 and a year after our marriage did not work out. My x-husband filed a dissolution of marriage to his country and I guess he remarry their. We don’t communication for decade. And he gave me a scanned copy of that marriage dissolution he filed, would that be acknowledge here in the Philippines? Can I remarry in the future? What would be the process for me to nullify my marriage in Philippine Law?

  3. William

    I read somewhere that the Ph. is the only country in the world that refuses to recognize divorce. Setting aside whether this is an exaggeration, what policies drive that choice?

    From what I have observed, dissatisfied married couples in the Ph. — including my wife’s parents, two her sisters, and one of her brothers — simply part ways with their spouse, and take up with other individuals who are more to their liking.

    How is that “better”? Does it really promote the values or beliefs facially intended by the above prohibition?

    Have there been any legislative or other efforts to change the law in this area? It seems outrageously harsh.

    Last question: Why is it so costly in Ph. to conduct any business relating to government or the judicial system? I would hazard to guess that a vast majority of Filipinos cannot afford to take advantage of those services.

    Thanks and regards,


  4. Donald

    A foreigner marries a Filipina in the Philippines. He subsequently divorces her in his home country. He now wishes to marry another Filioina in the Philippines. Besides:
    1. Copy of DIVORCE decree.
    2. Copy of “Legal Capacity to Marry” from his Embassy.
    3. Copy of passport.

    What other documents does he need and/or processes does he have to follow? For example, since his first marriage in the Philippines is registered with the NSO, does he need a CENOMAR, and if so, what is the process? Does he need to get judicial approval/confirmation HERE of his his foreign divorce? If so what is the process and documentary requirements?

  5. dollie

    i am married to a canadian for 7 years without any children, i live in the philippines an i am not contesting the divorce. i was served a divorce document but was asked to pay a certain amount for me to secure the document. is this legal? it is not me who wanted the divorce, why should i spend for it when he stopped sending me allowamces a few months back statting that he needs money to pay for his lawyer.

  6. Jam

    Good day. Gusto ko po humingi ng legal advice from you, wayback 2008 ako po ay ikinasal sa isang korean national dhil po sa kagustuhan ko makpag trabho sa korea. Ang usapan po namin ng kaibgan ko na nagreto sa akin sa korean guy na iyon ay kailangan daw po namin magpakasal muna dito sa pinas para mas mapadali daw ang paglakad ng papers ko papuntang korea. Pero ndi daw po nila yuon isusubmit sa NSO. Gagamtin lamang daw po nila un marriage contract namin as supporting documets daw po na ako ay may fiance na korean national. Ikinasal po kami sa manila. After few months po nag back out po ako sa plano ng pagpunta. Hanggang lumipas po ilang taon. Nagkaroon na po ako ng boyfriend at nagsama na kmi may 2 na po kaming anak. At gusto na po nmin magpakasal. Sinubukan ko po kumuha ng cenomar at duon ko po nalaman na nairehistro yun inakala kong pekeng kasal ko nuon. Anu po ang dapat kong gawin kng mag file po ako ng annulment. Thank you. Ms. Jam

  7. Sam

    Hi im Canadian and i had married to a filipina here in Canada. She live in Japan and she is divorce with her japanese husband already. She have her permenant resident in Japan but she still using her Philippine passport. Her statue in the Philippine is still married to that japanese husband because of the no divorce law. Do i need to apply a annullment in the Philippine before i can sponsor her in Canada?.

  8. Ohara

    Good evening po!
    Atty. ask ko lang po. Kasal po kami ng husband ko dito sa pilipinas and 5 years na po kaming di nagsasama hanggang sa he decided to end our marriage po. He is a U.S citizen. gi divorce po nya ako doon sa lugar nila at pinadala nya asa akin and authenticated na po from their country. Gusto ko lang pong malaman, kung ano po ba ang dapat kung gawin para maipa recognize ko sya dito sa pilipinas? ano po ba ang requirements? meron na po akong NSO copy ng marriage certicicate and a Certified through copy of divorce decree. Please po I need you’re help. Thank You and God bless.


  9. Cynthia

    Hai atty. Im a filipino and my husband is finnish citizen we married in phillipines and now we both living in finland but we are now separated, he is an alcoholist addicted and he abuse me physical,mentally,and emotional, this happened even we not married yet, but because he promising me that he want to change his attitude and drinking if we get family live here in finland. But now he get more worst he become irrisponsible for financial management for families due to his drinking and he start harrasting me when he get drunk then i get reported him to police as domestic violence . What shall i have to do to file the case against him?? That now im living with another man.

  10. marifi

    Hi Atty,

    Please i really needed help po. im a filipina married to a british citizen. we have 3 young chidren all under 10. and i have another baby along the way. Iam mentally emotionall physically not well. After u found out my husband cheated on me again but not only one woman but more than 1 woman. He brought all of his woman at the apartment were he live at the moment while im not around. hes based in cambodia for work where he had an affair to those woman. Now i confronted on him of what he did to me and my kids all the pains caused by his actions. how many times he was abused me but i always forgive him because of his promises that he will change. but he did it again many times already. iam so depressed now i needed help because he threatened me he will not give any centavos for the suppport if i will speak to his employer. please help me what to do for my kids sake. my kids are holding a dual citizenship. i found out he made a fake divorce document to show to his other woman that he is single. please help me please.


  11. Marcelyn

    I would like to beg your indulgence for some clarification regarding the petition on recognition of foreign divorce and foreign marriage.
    I am a Filipina and recently got married in Hawaii to a divorced naturalized US citizen who used to be a Filipino. I was told to file for recognition of foreign marriage in Hawaii
    but cannot do so because my husband was married before in Manila to a filipina. We were told to file for petition for recognition of foreign divorce. My husband who is a naturalized US citizen based in Hawaii since 1984. He used to be married to a filipina from cebu as he was also from cebu before becoming US citizen. My husband was based in Hawaii and took a vacation in Ilocos in 1986 where he met his first wife and eventually married They got married in 1986 in Manila City Hall. Then in 2009 my husband (a US citizen at the time of filing) filed for a divorce in hawaii(the wife was also a US citizen by then). Now last January 2018 my husband married me(im a Filipino citizen) in Hawaii. We were told that my husband needs to file for petition of recognition of foreign divorce for my husband so that I can file our marriage certificate to Phil. Statistics office. We now live in Bulacan as I am from Bulacan. It is stated that the petition must be filed at the RTC. Which RTC should it be filed? Will that be in Bulacan RTC where we now live or cebu RTC where my husband used to live(but note that my husband lives in Hawaii at the time of his marriage to the first wife in1986) or in Manila City Hall where the marriage was officiated.
    Can I, the present wife, do the petition for recognition of foreign divorce and be the petitioner? In that process can it be filed in Bulacan where we live?
    Hoping for your indulgence and response to my querries. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

  12. Che

    Hi Atty.
    I was married to my Canadian x husband here in the Philippines way back 2011. It only lasted for few months since I found out he has mental problem. He filed divorce in Canada and sent me a copy of the divorce decree. Now I’m engaged to an american and we’re applying for a fiancèe visa. Do I need to have my divorce recognize here in the Philippines or not since I will be remarrying in the U.S? I really want it recognized but I can’t afford yet and my x as well isn’t cooperating in gathering the requirements for recognition. I am looking forward to hear back from you. Thank you.


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