Legal Dynamics: Citizenship and Divorce

Discussions are welcome in the Forum. As more subjects here are discussed by the readers, the interaction of one topic with another (or between related laws) results to a legal melting pot, enriching the pool of topics to choose from.

For instance, we have discussed (“Divorce and Annulment in the Philippines“) that a Filipino – wherever he/she may be located in the world – is governed by Philippine laws on marriage. This means that while he/she can secure a divorce outside the Philippines, such divorce is NOT recognized in the Philippines. The same article also contains a discussion on the effect of losing Filipino citizenship vis-a-vis divorce. If a Filipino is naturalized as a foreign citizen and, in the process, loses his/her Filipino citizenship, such former Filipino can validly seek a divorce abroad and the divorce is recognized in the Philippines. In other words, after complying with the procedure in having the foreign decree of divorce judicially recognized (through a court action) here in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse may validly remarry.

Then came the new law (Republic Act No. 9225) that allows former Filipinos to re-acquire or maintain their Filipino citizenship. Here are the issues:

If a Filipino secures a divorce BEFORE losing his/her Philippine citizenship by naturalization as a foreign citizen (the divorce is not valid under Philippine laws), will the subsequent loss of Philippine citizenship have any effect on the validity of the previous divorce? Will it make any difference if the foreign decree of divorce, validly secured by a former Filipino, is not judicially recognized here in the Phils. before that former Filipino re-acquires his/her Philippine citizenship?

On the other hand, what’s the effect of the re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship on the foreign decree of divorce previously and validly secured?

I already suggested that the law students who had been asking me for thesis topics can pick up this one…and maybe provide us with the abstract of the study =) In the meantime, let’s hear what’s on your mind.

69 thoughts on “Legal Dynamics: Citizenship and Divorce

  1. peter

    I would like to know the situation if a 2nd (foreign) husband obtains decree nullity in foreign court from a Filipina who is still married to a Filipino in Philippines. The second marriage took place abroad in 1991 in a RC church although no banns were posted in the Philippines.

    What is the situation if she obtained Ph passport in 1973 by the same deception and fraud: claiming each and time and signing on official applications forms since 1973 to be SINGLE as well as using her maiden name only: although she was married in 1971 and never annulled or divorced.

    In 1990 she applied for and obtained foreign citizenship and foreign passport using the same methods : deceptively and fraudulently claiming and signing to be single while using her maiden name. Furthermore deceptively and fraudulently signing that there is no impediment to the second marriage.

    It is not know if she holds dual citizenship.

    1) What are the implications concerning her Ph immigration status?
    2) What is the situation concerning Ph civil law concerning her bigamy?
    3) What is the situation concerning Ph criminal law concerning her bigamy?
    4) What is the situation concerning RC Church?

  2. Atty. Fred Post author

    Peter, pls see comments at the other post. Thanks.

    Now, just to keep the ball rolling, so to speak, allow me to say what I\’m thinking.

    Assuming that a Filipino is naturalized as a foreigner (and loses his/her Phil. citizenship in the process), he/she can validly secure a divorce abroad. However, the foreign decree of divorce needs to be recognized here in the Philippines (at least for the purposes of remarriage), and this is done in court. If the judicial recognition, done here in the Phils., of the foreign divorce is made BEFORE the re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A. 9225, I believe there should be no problem. While this is subject to the argument that this is pro-rich (just seek naturalization as a foreign citizen, lose your Phil. citizenship, seek divorce abroad, have it recognized here in the Phils., then re-acquire Phil. citizens), that is simply the effect, which may have been unforeseen, of the interaction between the laws.

    Now, under the facts discussed above, what if the judicial recognition of the foreign divorce is sought AFTER Filipino citizenship is re-acquired? Please note that upon re-acquistion of Philippine citizenship, our laws on marriage automatically applies. Hence, it may be argued that it is contrary to law and public policy to allow the recognition of the foreign divorce, even if it was secured while still a foreign citizen. On the other hand, it may also be argued that the grant of the foreign divorce, while still a foreign citizen, has its legal effects that must be recognized here, even if such recognition is sought only after becoming a dual citizen.

    1. Shaynne

      My fiance is a naturalized citizen on 2007 in the u.s. by marrying his u.s. citizen (Filipina) from Cr1 on 1992. He re-acquired his Philippine Citizenship on 2010 (so he’s a dual citizen) and got divorced from his u.s. Citizen wife last year 2016. He then filed a petition in USCIS K1 visa for me.

      I am worried because I have read a lot of negative article online regarding recognition of foreign divorce. But I couldn’t find a similar story as mine. I want to ask what do you think the US embassy in manila and the CFO might foresee in our situation? I’m a bit confused because considering these facts:

      *They were married in the Philippines (1991)
      *The wife is the u.s. citizen and my fiance is the alien (cr1) and got naturalized
      *My fiance is a dual citizen but his wife is a u.s. citizen

      Do they (USEM & CFO) have legal reasons for not allowing me to acquire k1 visa because of these facts?

      Thanks for the reply in advance.

  3. peter

    what is the situiation if a Filipino marries in Ph. Goes abroad within 2 years of marriage having acquired Ph passport using her maiden name claiming to be single.

    Acquires foreign citizenship by deception. Does not maintain her Ph citizenship. Marries bigamously abroad after 20 years.

    On return to Ph for visit(s) is she liable to be arrested as she is still married to a Filipino?

  4. cbuana74

    I’m filipina married to a french national and we are living in HK. My husband wants to file a divorce..his reason is incompatibility. We were married both in France(civil) and in Phils(church). My question is if my husband initiate the divorce will it be recognized in Phils.? As soon as we have the final decision, do i need to send copy to NSO or to Phil. Consulate here in HK so the divorce will take effect? Please enlighten me on this. Thank you.

  5. Mia

    Hi,what if both parties applied for the divorce abroad (a foreigner and a filipino citizen). Will this law “Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by E. O. No. 227, dated July 17, 1987.)” applicable?

  6. Fred

    Hi Mia,

    That is a very interesting point, one which is not yet directly covered in Philippine jurisprudence. In my opinion, there are two views (by the way, I hope you’ve read the “Terms of Use” of this Forum):

    1. Strict interpretation. – Any divorce decree granted upon the initiative of the Filipino spouse will not be recognized here. For instance, if the Filipino spouse is the one who first filed a petition, or if he/she is the one who initiated the “no-fault” divorce (asking the foreigner-spouse to sign the petition), then the divorce decree will not be recognized here. This strict interpretation is consistent with the laws’ bias in favor of marriage, and, necessarily, against divorce.

    2. Liberal interpretation. – The provision is broad enough to cover a petition jointly signed by both spouses, as in “no-fault” divorce. The operative word is “obtained”. The law specifically provides that the foreign decree of divorce must be “obtained” by the foreigner-spouse. In other words, it’s immaterial who first filed the petition, as long as the foreigner-spouse also secured a decree or is deemed to have also obtained the decree. The SC liberally applied Art. 26 in the new case discussed somewhere in this Forum.

  7. sandie

    I was a canadian citizen when I married my husband…our marriage was not approve right away bcoz i was required to get a legal capacity from canadian immigration in Manila. We got married Jan 3/91 but was not approved by the civil marriage in Bacolod City til they got my legal capacity…and our marriage was legally approved Jan.17/91. I sponsor him here in Canada but as soon as he got his Canadian citizenship he left me & we got divorced. Canadian Imm. acknowledged my divorced & means that the legal capacity was also null & void.
    My question is…as a canadian citizen who was divorced for 10 years now, am i allowed to marry in the Phils to a person (filipino citizen) who is also legally separated from his wife for 15 years? I want to sponsor him here in Canada, is it possible? Thank you and hope you can help me answer my question.

  8. Atty. Fred Post author

    Sandie, I can’t answer the specific question, as no legal advice may be given here. Nevertheless, you might be intererested with the previous discussion regarding the difference between “annulment” and “legal separation”. One of the differences is the capacity to remarry – the marital bond remains in “legal separation”, which means that the spouses cannot remarry.

  9. lawenthusiast

    hi, i have an interesting story here about a family friend of ours. the couple got married somewhere in the 70’s had two kids then. they were in business and was quite successful, however there were hills and valleys somewhere along the way. during the mid 1990’s the husband invested in heavy real estate while being employed in one of the largest corporations in the country. That is where the couple got their bread and butter. however, when the 1997 economic crisis set in his business got affected because of the exhorbitant dollar loans he owed the bank. to add insult to injury he made more loans. he had more expenses for interest payments. at the same time, they had to leave the company they were working in because they had a falling out with their boss. with depleting finances and out of the job they started a new business and made more borrowings again, this time in terms of private loans and merchandize payables. their liabilities piled up and business wasn’t really doing well, as a result, no one wanted to extend credit. they had to sell their condominium and speed boat and other luxurious things they once enjoyed. the wife, not being able to bear it anymore, secretly contacted the husband’s friend in the US and became casual friends. on the premise and motive to improve the family’s lot, the wife convinced the whole family she had to work in the states. she left, with the husband selling piaya in some obscure place and struggling to get his son finish his studies on a loan he owed to his friend. the husband couldn’t contact his wife for about a year and was so surprised that he got this court order from US authorities that he could not get within 100 feet of his wife.
    when a family friend of the couple got in the US, the wife contacted them to meet up dinner time. a few days later, the family friend found out that the wife married a US citizen—her husband’s friend she contacted back in the philippines. it was found out she cohabited with him while still being married to the original husband. the wife alleged she sent divorce papers. only to find out she sent it to the wrong address. she is still on the process of acquiring her US citizenship. is there a similar jurisprudence to this story? now, the husband is seeing someone younger and would want to marry the girl.

  10. Atty. Fred Post author

    lawenthusiast, I’m sorry but I can’t tell if the story is interesting (or stated my opinion) – I usually stop reading when discussions on matters, as relating to specific persons, go into finer details. It’s generally futile for me to do so, since I’m ethically prohibited from giving any legal advice on that set of facts. I hope you understand.

    Anyway, the answers to certain questions may be gleaned from discussions on certain topics – here or at the Forum (

  11. njacc

    Hi, I am almost 5years separated to my husband, this is our 3rd separation, 14 years married. We have 3kids on my custody. The kids are with him on weekends. I am against divorce. I did seek legal advise few years ago. Reason, psychological incapacity. However, the annulment didn’t materialize because of financial reason and I can’t handle the pain.
    With the economy we have now, he’s planning to work in US. Future possibility is he might file for divorce there and marry x x x. They’re planning to go back here after 3years. I’ve already read the articles regarding this.
    Is it possible for him to file for divorce there?
    If he threatens me that he will not give financial support to our kids if I dont sign the divorce paper, what is the legal action I could do here?
    Pls help or email me at

  12. ronaldbmz

    I got married in the philippines 2 yrs ago. Both me and why wife are filipino citizens which are both legal residents here in the US. She is filling for divorce here in the US. Since we are here in the US, she doesn’t really care if the divorce is not going to be recognized in the philippines. My question is, is the divorce going to be recognize as legal here in the US despite the fact we are still going be legally married in the philippines? I don’t want to get divorce. What are my legal rights and options? Please help.

  13. Atty. Fred Post author

    njacc/ronaldbmz, I’m terribly sorry but we really can’t address your request for “legal options” and “legal action”. As stated in other posts, we don’t (and, more importantly, can’t) give legal advice relating to particular concerns.

    If you would be kind enough to search through the articles in this Forum, you will discover that: (a) while divorce may be filed and secured in foreign jurisdictions, it’s not recognized in the Phils.; (b) there are legal remedies, civil and criminal, in the event that the husband refuses to give support. On the other hand, future posts may relate to your questions. Please drop by from time to time to see if there are related posts. I hope you both understand.


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