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.

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

  1. sangre

    Good morning sir, i filed a declaration of void marriage to my american husband. the court ordered that a publication is needed because he lives abroad and cannot be summoned personally. my question is, is it possible not to publish it and just serve the summon thru registered mail because i still know his home and work addresses as well as phone numbers and emails. thank you so much. Sangre

  2. sofia

    dear atty,

    good day to you sir !!!
    i have a male friend whose separated for almost 3 yrs. and 4 mos now… he had a problem about his live-birth certificate. when he applied for a passport thats the only time he found out that on his birth cert. his sex there was “female” instead of “male”, he knows that it would takes time to fix all that, bec. he needs to submit a lot of documents.. but his question, is the “sex” on the life birth can be used as a ground for annulment?

  3. sweetest

    This is the situtation:

    Woman A and Man A had a daughter even before they got married. Within their two years of marriage Woman A had an affair with Man B and decided to leave her husband (Man A), and took their daughter. Finally both parties sorted to separate physically. Until now Woman A is still with Man B.

    The question is:

    Man A wants to file for annulment. What would be the possible grounds for this case?

  4. alyssagraham

    Questions for all lawyers. How much would one have to spend when filinf for annulment? And on what grounds can one file for annulment? What if both parties agree to have the marriage annulled, who should file for annulment then? are there any centers or any offices that provide free legal service for women who want to have their marriage annuleled? Thanks

  5. Atty. Fred Post author

    Sangre, please consult your lawyer on that matter. Please note that even with service of summons by publication, it must still be sent by registered mail to the last known address…unless, of course, the court orders otherwise.

    Sofia, the grounds for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage are discussed in some other posts. Kindly check the articles…then let me know if you find the ground you cited =)

    Sweetest, same answer as that of Sofia.

    Alyssa, try the Public Attorneys’ Office. Good luck.

  6. deesian

    My wife left since 1984 and I don’t have any news from her ever since. Can I file for Presumptive Death of My Absent Spouse. What are the chances that this will be granted. Recently I met someone and planned to marry her. Thanks

  7. Atty. Fred Post author

    Deesian, the probability depends on the facts/evidence that you can show, among other things. Discuss this with your lawyer. Good luck.

  8. Pingback: The irony of love and annulment (steps and procedure for annulment) at Atty-at-Work

  9. Pingback: Annulment in the Philippines: Questions and Answers (Part 2) at Philippine e-Legal Forum

  10. karen_lee

    hi sir. good day. i’m karen 24 yrs old. presently working in kuwait. i got married sept 2001 at the age of 18. after a year his mom took my husband here in kuwait to work. first year was ok sending text messages everyday, calling. but after a year everything change. communicating only after 2 -3 months and eventually we had lost our communication for almost 6 months. then something happened, his mom called me and told me that he was caught by policeman for illegal drugs and ask me if i wanted to see him here.( he stayed here for more than 3 yrs before i came, but they only took me when he is already in prison) so i came here oct 2005 and decided to work while waiting for courts decision. he was sentenced to 5 yrs imprisonment on illegal drugs. luckily after almost 2yrs of imprisonment he was pardoned and sent back to philippines. we communicate through phone and things are entirely different now and we are having a lot of difficulties understanding each other. his attitude is somewhat different from what i had known him before. saying bad things if im not able to send money inside the prison, telling crazy things and accusations. with the mother in law doing certain things that is really against my will. it was last january when we decided to be on a separate ways, though we haven’t talk in person since we never had a chance here. we’re in good terms now. he’s back in the philippines. i have found a new muslim foreign partner in life recently and offering me a marriage. i just wanna know atty if its posible for me to remarry again? and can i file annulment here in kuwait? i heard his mom is planning to take him here on december, will it be easier if we’re both here? thank you so much. pls help me. ..

  11. Atty. Fred Post author


    Petitions for annulment between Filipinos, or those initiated by the Filipino spouse (in a marriage between a Filipino and a foreigner) may only be filed here in the Philippines. Good luck and God bless.

  12. sei_danielle

    Hi! i’m sei, 21 yrs old, i was married when i was 18 and left my husband when 2yrs ago. Because he beats me, now i found out that his marriage with his first wife is not yet annulled. I got pregnant and i want to re marry. How much would it cost me to make my first wedding void. How long would be the proess? thank you..

  13. puzzle


    My husband was married to her first wife in 1986 to give name for their child. And in the same year he left his first wife and we are cohabiting until now. In the year 1995, we decided to get married because it is one of the requirements for our kids’ baptismal. His first wife has her own family now. Is our marriage is valid?

  14. curious1


    i am a little confused by yuor response to karen. my brother and his exwife divorced and had there marraige annulled by the church but it was done in canada. (they both live in canada) does that mean there annullment isnt legal in phils coz they did it in canada?

  15. Atty. Fred Post author


    I must apologize if we can’t give any legal advice because, as repeatedly stated in this site, this is not allowed. This means that we can’t address many of your concerns. Nevertheless, there are legal information that may assist you in your quest for answers.

    Other than that, there may be existing information in this site that may be of help to you. For instance, the duration of the process is discussed here:

    Whether a subsequent marriage, while there is an existing marriage, is valid is discussed partly here:

    The validity of divorce secured abroad is discussed here (and the links highlighted in the post):

    These are just some of the related posts. Kindly search through the other articles for more discussions.

    Thank you and God bless.


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