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.

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

  1. Christy

    Good day Atty.Fred,
    Ako po ay kasal sa simbahan noong 2005 parang parents arrangement po ang nangyari, at hndi nga ngtagal pgssma namin ksi poh iniwan ko cxa 1month LNG poh kmi ng sama at wala poh kmi naging anak cmula noon wala n poh kmi komunakasyon hanggang ngayon 2017 at isa po ako ngayon ofw,balak ko po sana n mag file annulled ano po ba ang una Kong gwin kpg mg file habang andito poh AQ s abroad. Salamat sa pg basa at god bless poh

  2. Lyn

    Hello po atty.,
    Atty. Tanong tanong ko lng po may posible po ba ma. Annul ung kasal nang pensan ko sa asawa nya 12 years na po cla hiwalay. Pero may ibang fmily na po cya.

  3. Jeang

    Good day, almost seven years na kaming hiwalay ng asawa ko, sakatunayan may kanya kanya na kaming bagong familya ngaun, na una sa nag asawa at may anak na din sila at aq ren may isang aanak na ren aq sa bago kung asawa, pero mas matanda ng tatlong taon ang anak nya. Madali lang ba ang prosiso ng annulment namen.

  4. Sally

    Good day , 15 years na po kami hiwalay ng asawa ko, ask ko lang po kung pwede ko idemanda ang asawa ko , na grant na pala ang annulment ng kasal namin na hindi ko alam ,noong 2005 at iba po ang address ko sa summon. Thank u


    hi po. 11 years na po akong hiwalay, dahil sumama sa ibang babae asawa ko now may 2 kids na cya. and nag sasama sila nung babae. Wala po cyang sustento sa akin kahit mag kano. Nais ko po sanang mag file ng anulment dahil di naman na kami mag asawa.

    Paano po ba ako mag sisimula. Wala rin po akong ganun kalaking pera may makakatulong po ba sa akin. sino po pwede kong lapitan.

  6. Rquims

    I was force to marry her because we thought she was pregnant. with 1child 3yrs being together and 1yr w/o communication I wanted to annul our marriage. Anung ground po ba pwedi e file, at ilang yrs po knowing she will not sign any papers or agreement. Please send details sa email ko po at saan ako mka hanap ng attorney pra sa case na ganito. Salamat ng marami.


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