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.

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

  1. Barry

    Atty. Fred,

    I just want to ask what are the possible requirements in filling Annulment?
    Since my wife and i are not leaving together since 2008 and the only communication we have is when she wants to see or visit our son as part of our verbal agreement.
    And the other problem is i was looking for a Lawyer who can handle our case, any web site that i can search on for possible referral.
    I hope you can help me Atty. Fred.

    Thank You and Regards,

  2. alma

    im Alma im merried since 1990 and w i he got two kids ,, 1993 we separate since then we dont had a comunication or he never support his two kids, never.. and this time i have a bf and we want to get merried ,, how to unnul my merriage before, and how long time it will takes?? please help me

  3. Ivy

    June 3,2016
    Dear sir, lagpas 10 years na po kaming hiwalay ng asawa ko pero hindi ligal wala na po kaming communication as a husband and wife, pero last aug.2013 nag abroad seya at sinusoportahan nya ang dalawang anak namin pero sela lang may communication cla ng mga anak ko.ano po gagawin ko gusto ko na po makig annul sa kanya pero paano po, wala na kaming communication..plss help me ..tanx

  4. Pedro

    Hi Atty, bale ask ko lang po kung ano po pweding maging scenario ng annulment case ko kasi po due to the delays of submission of my phychological test/report & un appearance ng phycholigical doctor eh na denied po yung submission ng report despite of filing our motion for reconsideration. So as advice po eh since na denied yung report hindi na eto mag serve as part of my evidence, at hindi na kami mag file sa court of appeal with regards to this matter, antay nalang daw kami ng decision don sa petition namin. In this case is there a possibility na maging positive parin ung result ng petition namin or most likely negative.

    Paki advise naman po kung ano dapat kung gawin. Thank you po.

  5. borjoke

    to all atty

    hi to all atty tanong lang po hiwalay na po kmi ng asawa ku almost going 4yrs na pero bago kami naghiwalay my anak sya sa ibang lalaki i mean buntis po sya kahit kasal pa kmi at nagsasama nalaman ku lng po na buntis sya sa iba nong bumalik na aku sa states anu po pwde kng gawin?bago po kmi naghiwalay buntis na sya..kasi po yearly ako umuuwi sa pilipinas..pwde ku pa ba sya mafile ng kaso o hindi na po?

  6. Ardel

    To all Attys.,

    I was born in july 1981 and got married in may 1998. And separated in 2009. Now I want to file null in void po sana. What procedures should I do because I want to marry my girl and wanted to have a family with her. The marrage ceremony was made in Caloocan city and the marrage lic was issued in Imus Cavite. But the real ceremony was made in Morayta the one called secret marrage on tabloids.

  7. Reduria

    my late mom had nullity of marriage in 1985. she did not know and no one advised na kelangan pa po pala etong ipasa sa korte. she then married my father sa civil 1987 and sa church 1989. namatay po cya nung 2014. d inirerelease ng SSS claim ng father ko dahil yung relationship daw ng mom ko sa papa ko ay bigamous. can we appeal to this? based on their records my mom’s name is her married name po with my father. lahat ng records nila okay except lang talaga sa sss.

  8. Meriam

    Good day. Just want to know if the newlywed sa city hall a few months ago is nasa Nso na kagad ung marriage certificate? What if po gusto na mkipaghiwaly ung lalake dun sa naging asawa nya, dhil niloko sya na buntis dw kya pinaksalan nung guy ora mismo? Tapos 23 years old lng ung guy at nag sign pa ng consent ung parents kc bata pa sya. San po unang pupunta to file an annulment? Dun b sa city hall kung san sya kinasal? Pwede ba maging grounds of annulment ung pinilit sya ng parents nung babae na pkasalan nya dhil buntis dw, then later on nkunan dw?

  9. Sugar Rey

    Hi Atty,

    I have a married friend who wants to get annulled with his spouse because they don’t have the mutual understanding and maybe feelings either, they once go counseling but only to their elders and wedding witness yet no good happened, He was abused (emotionally) by his spouse and it was publicly made.. Now, He dont know how/where to get started of getting out from that status, can he filed for that “annulment” even though their reason was not listed in the grounds?
    Hoping for a reply.
    Thanks so much and Godbless.

  10. lynn

    atty. i filed an annulment last 2011,,but in 2013 may i got news that my ex husband filed an anulment 2012 and was granted,,2013 met my american boyfriend and decided to get married here in pinas march 2013.
    we hired an agent to take care of all documents from ceremony to registration in nso..she gave us a copy of the annulment and cenomar and our marriage contract from NSO,,but comes august i need some copies for our visa process, im devastated our marriage was faked,cenomar shows 2 husband with no annotation from first marriage.,so i decided to continue my own annulment was denied after 5 years waiting,right now we filed MR. my american husband decided to quit the visa process,because our marriage was faked.,,atty, i have no money to filed for annulment of second marriage,,can i apply at PAO, but im afraid of the BIGAMY case since its public,,my second marriage is null and void since im still married,,im so confused,,what will i do,,my american husband will not help on filing the annulment he is very mad at our system,,its my ignorance its my fault,,what will i do.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *