Steps and Procedure in Annulment and Declaration of Nullity of Marriage

You thought you’ve found your perfect match. You thought your marriage is bound to last forever, or, at the very least, until the last breath. You’ve thought wrong, you say, and you now think of seeking legal remedy to end your marriage. Here are “steps” or suggestions in deciding whether to step out of the ring or not:

1. Make sure it is the last resort. As stated in a previous post, love and marriage are supposed to be forever. Try all options, like counseling, to make it work. If there’s no progress, weigh your options. On the other side of the scale is the reality that getting into another relationship or marriage, while the first marital bond is still existing, is a sure way of courting criminal liability (adultery, concubinage, bigamy). A subsequent petition for declaration of nullity/annulment of marriage is not a defense in the criminal action.

2. Realize that it will cost you. Getting out of marriage is sometimes more expensive than getting into one. Expenses include the fees for your lawyer or counsel, filing fees, professional fees for the psychiatrist or psychologist (if the ground is psychological incapacity), etc.

3. Discuss the custody of children, visitation rights, property arrangements and support. Custody over children and separation of properties in annulment are among the most bitter issues in annulment. As much as possible, discuss and agree on these matters beforehand.

4. Make sure to invoke a valid ground. Marriage is an inviolable social institution and any doubt is resolved in its favor. Hence, make sure there’s sufficient basis to go through the procedure discussed below.

The procedure provided under the Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages is discussed below. Please note that a petition for “annulment” refers to voidable marriages, which are valid until annulled by the court, while a petition for “declaration of nullity” refers to marriages that are considered void or inexistent from the very beginning. There are other differences (e.g., legitimate status of children, property relations between the spouses, prescription and ratification), but let’s leave those for another day. For convenience, we shall refer to both petitions as “annulment”.

1. Preparation and filing of the petition. The petition may be filed, at the option of the spouse who filed it (called the “petitioner”), in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the other spouse (called the “respondent”) resides for the last 6 months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, 7where he/she may be found in the Philippines. An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) may file the petition even while abroad. Incidentally, upon filing of the petition or anytime thereafter, the court may issue provisional and protective orders.

2. Service of Summons. In simplest terms, this is giving notice to the respondent. Where the respondent cannot be located at the given address or the whereabouts are unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry, service of summons may be done by publication. This is crucial because the court cannot validly proceed without service of summons.

3. Answer. The respondent must answer within 15 days from service of summons (or within 30 days from the last issue of publication in case of service of summons by publication). Unlike in civil cases, the respondent in annulment proceedings is not declared in default if no answer is filed, but the public prosecutor shall be ordered to investigate whether collusion exists between the parties.

4. Investigation report of public prosecutor. The public prosecutor prepares a report on whether there is collusion between the parties. If the court is convinced that collusion exists, it shall dismiss the petition; otherwise, the court shall set the case for pre-trial conference. The Rules dispensed with the requirement, as provided in Molina, that the Solicitor General issue a certification stating his reasons for his agreement or opposition to the petition.

5. Pre-trial conference. During the mandatory pre-trial conference, the court and the parties deal with certain matters, such as stipulation of facts, for the purpose of expediting the proceedings. The petition may be dismissed if the petitioner fails to appear during pre-trial. At this stage, the court may also refer the issues to a mediator who shall assist the parties in reaching an agreement on matters not prohibited by law (no compromise allowed in civil status of persons, validity of marriage or of legal separation, grounds for legal separation, jurisdiction of courts, and future support and legitime). The court may also require a social worker to conduct a case study and submit a report at least 3 days before the pre-trial conference, or at any stage of the case whenever necessary.

6. Trial. This is the stage where the ground for annulment is proved and opposed. The court may order the exclusion from the courtroom of all persons, including members of the press, who do not have a direct interest in the case.

7. Decision. After the trial proper, the court renders its decision, which is different from the Decree of annulment. A decision, whether granting or dismissing the petition, becomes final upon the expiration of 15 days from notice to the parties.

8. Appeal. The aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may appeal from the decision within 15 days from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration or new trial.

9. Liquidation, partition and distribution, custody, support of common children and delivery of their presumptive legitimes. These are done upon entry of the judgment granting the petition.

10. Issuance of Decree of annulment. The court issues the Decree after: (i) registration of the entry of judgment granting the annulment in the Civil Registry where the marriage was celebrated and in the Civil Registry of the place where the court is located; (ii) registration of the approved partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses in the proper Register of Deeds where the real properties are located; and (iii) delivery of the children’s presumptive legitimes in cash, property, or sound securities.

11. Registration of the Decree. The Decree must be registered in the Civil Registry where the marriage was registered, the Civil Registry of the place where the court is situated, and in the National Census and Statistics Office.

260 thoughts on “Steps and Procedure in Annulment and Declaration of Nullity of Marriage

  1. prosecutor josa

    Just a little clarification on the role of the State. The certification from the prosecutor that there is no collusion between the parties is different from the certification from the Solicitor-General opposing or agreeing with the petition. The former is still the prevailing requirement while the latter has already been dispensed with.

      1. Ferdie

        Hi attorney,
        I am having a problem with my marrage now,isa po akong ofw here abroad,im still supporting my kids.nkipag hiwalay npo skin ang asawa ko but not in a legal wAy,moral pressure po.irreconcilable differences,conflicting personalities.ano pa ba ang dapat kung gawin.pwede po ba ako mag file ng de fecto.
        Maraming salamat po..

        1. vnus

          Can I file go annulment if my husband is living with another girl for 5yrs now but they don’t still have a child
          And he still see my kids once a month..but me….no…we haven’t speak to each other for 4yrs.
          Noted that on the last part of me being with him he become aggressive and he beats me
          Would it a ground for annulment

          1. Lyn

            Good day di na po Kami nagkakasundo ng husband ko at nahuli ko na May babae siya. Ako na rin po ang naghahanap buhay at nagpapaaral sa 5 anak namin ako rin po ang sumasagot ng mga bills at addict pa po cya. Salamat po

          2. imellda

            bkit ganun ang gastos kpag nagpa annull..hirap ka na nga tapos lalo pang pahihirapan sa gaztos sa pag aanull ng kasL

        2. Marry jean

          Helo po..i jst want to ask… kung papaano po malalaman na legal ung ksal….in my case po my bf got married 3yrs back.. first they tried to marry here in singapore but wascancelled kc klngn ng babae ng parents aproval…lahat po ng seminar at klngn n requirements s kasal naayos nla s singapore nung mag appky cla…at dahil po hindi natuloy ung kasal nla dto s singapore…((by the way po ung bf ko citizen ng singapore kya dto cla ngplan mgpaksal))… so they plan to ge marriend n sa pinas and that time d n aproved ung parents ng bf ko kc ung babae ngpakita n ng di kaaya ayang ugali…. ang tanong ko po… can they still used those requirements theyve apply to be married in singapore dyaan s pinas!??? Is it valid s pinas,? Or they need to apply another requirements such ung seminar etc….ung babae po ung ng asikaso lahat dw ng klngn s kasal nla dyan s pinas and even the his sign wla xa…my bf ddnt know anything s requirements nung inaply ng babae….. yhen the day has come…. my bf came home s pinas jst to settle and jst cancel their marriage..the family and the girl wer ok about it,,they even do for a movie then suddemly d girls mother called them that ung magkakasal s knla nasa bahay n umuwi cla..and ung ngksal s knla ministry… the ceremony happens sa bhay ng babae.. aftr 6months they broke up… everytime ds girl see a woman on my bfs pos on fb even jst a friend she threat them even me…. she told my bf he jst have to send 15k and annulment is ok,.she even send him that their marrieage s alredy annuled jst send 49k as his part..and this girl send him marriage certificate to prove thay she married already…. shes pregnant and already have live in partnerin the philippines but continue to threatened my bf to file a case bcz wer on a relationship…..she even threat me that my son will die…..(not my bf child)… i need ur advise….. she used to threat my bf and people around,,,hope i can get any rply

        3. Jessica

          Attorney is it possible to file an annulment since husband abandon us for 10 years, what are the requirements, and also i have my children to witness it- that their father abandon us that long…

      2. Wilma

        Hi Attorney, Paano po mag file ng declaration of nullity of marriage? Nagpa kasal po ako noong March 1994 pero may tunay siyang asawa dahil buntis na ako at kahihiyan sa magulang ko napilitan ako magpakasal kahit alam Kong kasal siya. Ngunit after July 1994 bigla na lng cia nawala at na balitaan ko na bumalik cia sa asawa nya. From that date Hindi ko na cia nakita at Hindi ko na din cia ginambala pa. Paano ko kaya mapapawalan ng bisa ang aking kasal? Hindi po ako nag change ng status kahit kailan ta kahit saan po na mga id ko at persona docs ang ginagamit ko ay apelyido ko sa pagka dalaga. Wala naman ako balak sa kahit anong sustento dahil npatapos ko na po ang anak ko. Please attorney I need your help. Wala akong sapat na pera para sa annulment dahil sa pagkaka alam ko npka laking pera ang kailangan. Sana po sagutin nyo ang aking liham. Madaming salamat.
        God bless and More Power.

    1. Sheena

      Panu ko po malalaman kung annulled at wala ng bisa ang kasal ng asawa ko??? Plsss plss plss po I need ur help

      1. Larry

        Hi po attorney gusto ko lng po malaman sa case ko.Dec.2,2010 po kinasal Ako sa civil tapos bumalik Ako ng Saudi dec 31 2010 tapos after 1year nalaman ko nlng po n nabuntis ang asawa ko sa ibang lalaki Jan sa pinas n nsa Saudi Ako at May ebedensya Ako na hawak ngaun ung passport ko at at ung birth certificate ng anak ng asawako.ang tanong ko lng po maipapanalo ko po kya ang kaso.Slmat po

      2. marites

        Hi po..ask LNG ako.. Pinsan ko may bf na foreigner at blak nlang mgpkasal Sa yong pinsan ko Hindi pa annull Sa dati nyang asawa..hwalay na cla for it possible na mkasal cla dito pinas ng bf nyang foreigner… Reply asap pls

    2. Kristine

      How can apply a annulment while im in abroad and since we dont have kids…we are 6years marriage i need your ans.and how much it will cost…tnx godless

    3. Ann

      Good day prosecutor.

      I have a question, is the marriage void if the wife use other name and the husband knew it after 3 years the have been married. The wife already married before using her real name and they get married 3 years ago in kasalang bayan. Since kasalang bayan didn’t have any requirements they got married. But now, the husband want to get a paper that their marriage is void, what will the husband has to do with it?

      1. marites

        To all atty.,
        Paano po b kung kasal ako sa judge and hiwalay na po kami since from that hindi sya nagbigay ng support at hindi n kami nag 6 n kmi hiwalay.paano po b ako mag aaply ng annulment kasi ayaw ko na sanang gamitin yong apelyedo niya.

      2. thed

        yes.. you can file you must be go to the nearest phil embassy..and you can take the form..for filling annulment..

  2. k_pm

    I would like to inquire about the role the state regarding filing a bigamy case. Can anyone file the charges if somebody they know commited the crime? A family member of the spouse or friend?

  3. eiruj03

    to all the attorneys,

    i would like to know if the same name but different spelling is still valid especially when it comes to legal matters? i am very confused…pls help me. thank you

    1. Hanzel

      To all attorneys i need your help. My petioner from the us send a petition approval here in the philippines which qualifies me to get an interview. but i found out that he is still married here in the philippines but they have no communication for more than 15 years after that church wedding. And the girl re-marry again in 2006 without papers of annulment or void? How could it be possible? And its also a church wedding? She just said because the first marriage with my petioner is invalid because of the typographical errors of the legal papers. Is it possible?

  4. Atty.Fred

    k_pm, your question was already answered somewhere in this site.

    eiru03, it really depends on what particular legal transaction you’re referring to. Correction of a mispelled name is now relatively easy. Please check this article. Good luck.

  5. Pingback: Common-law marriage (live-in relationships) in the Philippines at Philippine e-Legal Forum

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  7. Atty. Fred Post author

    Liv, there’s another post on that here. Please try the search function at the right sidebar (specially for future questions). In the meantime, let me make your search easier – click here to go to that article.

  8. YVR_BC

    Considering you know all the answers, would you please briefly give me an estimate of how long it will take and how much it will cost to get an annulment these days? I tried reading everything I can find but it’s too much of an eyesore. I hope you don’t mind giving a quick reply.

    If you need to know the grounds and complication of the matter, to be able to do an estimate, please read on;
    I got married in January 1996, I left Manila 3 days later and haven’t been back since. The person I married have been living with someone else for years now and they also have, last I heard, 5 kids. I think they don’t even make enough to live, so as much as they’d like to do so, applying for an annulment is not possible in their part. I would like to do them a favour by filing an annulment myself but am not sure if I want to shoulder the cost considering I haven’t got a need as I haven’t got plans to remarry nor do I want to go thru so much trouble again. I do not wish to be with this person nor do I want to take this person away from the children. For the sake of the children, I might consider it.

    Thanks for your time.

  9. Atty. Fred Post author

    YVR_BC, it usually lasts about a year, but it could be faster or it could drag on longer depending on contingencies. As mentioned before, for costs, this is properly discussed between you and your lawyer (or, if you want, you can get the contact details here).

    By the way, allow me to clarify some matters. I don’t mind giving a quick reply, but, in most instances, I just can’t; I have hearings and clients to attend to (plus, I have to balance that with my baby boy and wife). I can’t give any legal opinion on your situation because I am prohibited from doing so. Lastly, I don’t know all the answers, and, in such instance, I’d admit that I don’t know.

    Good luck and God bless.

    1. IR

      Hi Atty. Fred, I only have a house and lot as my only property. Aside from the filing fee, is there an additional cost regarding this property like a certain percentage of the property tax when filing for a petition?

  10. epv

    My husband and I were separated literraly but not legally for 3 years but we still have communication for quite sometime. We have one child, My ex-husband is giving support to my son amounting to 10,000 monthly and he shoulder the education.But normally the monthly allowance of my son is always delay for 2 weeks. On my part I shoulder the house rental, utilities,electricity and monthly budget of food and some unexpected expenses .He is presently working overseas and he earns 120,000 monthly. I’m also working overseas since last year and I’m earning 35,000 pesos monthly. Just want to inquire how much is the legal amount that my son should receive from his father?Do I still have rights to demand any financial matter to him since we are still legally married?One more thing is there any possibility that he can marry abroad and their marriage will be valid?What is our rights (my son and me)being the legal family?

  11. kathara

    Sir, would like to know if I can still file a petition for annulment if I already filed a petition for legal separation which is currently pending. Must the legal separation case be dismissed first? Or both can subsist?

  12. Atty. Fred Post author

    EPV, I strongly suggest you read these posts: Q&A on annulment and divorce, and legal support. I can’t give you any legal advice because lawyers are prohibited from doing so in the absence of an attorney-client relationship. I also suggest you use the search function at the right sidebar (scroll down if you can’t see it), some of your questions are already covered in other discussions.
    kathara, I assume that you already have a lawyer handling your case. Kindly seek his/legal opinion.


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