Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers

There are many questions relating to annulment and divorce in the Philippines, and many of the concerns of our readers had already been addressed in previous articles. Nevertheless, to consolidate everything for everyone’s easy reference, here are the FAQs on annulment and divorce in the Philippines:

Annulment, Divorce, Legal Separation in the Philippines Questions and Answers 1

Is divorce allowed under Philippine laws?

No, divorce is not allowed in the Philippines. However, there are certain instances wherein the divorce secured abroad by the foreigner-spouse, and even by Filipinos, are recognized under Philippine laws. [See also: Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree and Mixed Marriages and Divorce]

Would it make any difference if I marry abroad where divorce is allowed?

No. Filipinos are covered by this prohibition based on the “nationality principle”, regardless of wherever they get married (and regardless where they get a decree of divorce). Discussions relating to Overseas Filipinos or OFWs are transferred in Part V.

Is “annulment” different from a “declaration of nullity” of marriage?

Yes. In essence, “annulment” applies to a marriage that is considered valid, but there are grounds to nullify it. A “declaration of nullity” of marriage, on the other hand, applies to marriages that are void or invalid from the very beginning. In other words, it was never valid in the first place. [See Grounds for Annulment of Marriage and Grounds for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage]

Also, an action for annulment of voidable marriages may prescribe, while an action for declaration of nullity of marriage does not prescribe.

So, if a marriage is void from the very beginning (void ab initio), there’s no need to file anything in court?

For purposes of remarriage, there must be a court order declaring the marriage as null and void. Entering into a subsequent marriage without such court declaration means that: (a) the subsequent marriage is void; and (b) the parties open themselves to a possible charge of bigamy.

What if no marriage certificate could be found?

Justice Sempio-Dy, in the “Handbook of on the Family Code of the Philippines” (p. 26, 1997 reprint), says: “The marriage certificate is not an essential or formal requisite of marriage without which the marriage will be void. An oral marriage is, therefore, valid, and failure of a party to sign the marriage certificate or the omission of the solemnizing officer to send a copy of the marriage certificate to the proper local civil registrar, does not invalidate the marriage. Also the mere fact that no record of marriage can be found, does not invalidate the marriage provided all the requisites for its validity are present.” (Citations omitted)

Can I file a petition (annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage) even if I am in a foreign country?

Yes, the rules recognize and allow the filing of the petition by Filipinos who are overseas. [See also How to File a Case for Annulment in the Philippines while Abroad]

What are the grounds for annulment?

  • 1. Lack of parental consent in certain cases. If a party is 18 years or over, but below 21, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents/guardian. However, the marriage is validated if, upon reaching 21, the spouses freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.
  • 2. Insanity. A marriage may be annulled if, at the time of marriage, either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
  • 3. Fraud. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. Fraud includes: (i) non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; (ii) concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; (iii) concealment of sexually transmissible disease or STD, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or (iv) concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage. However, no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.
  • 4. Force, intimidation or undue influence. If the consent of either party was obtained by any of these means, except in cases wherein the force, intimidation or undue influence having disappeared or ceased, the complaining party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
  • 5. Impotence. At the time of marriage, either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable. Impotence is different from being infertile.
  • 6. STD. If, at the time of marriage, either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. If the STD is not serious or is curable, it may still constitute fraud (see No. 3 above).

[See also: Grounds for Annulment of Marraige]

What if a spouse discovers that his/her spouse is a homosexual or is violent, can he/she ask for annulment?

Homosexuality or physical violence, by themselves, are not sufficient to nullify a marriage. At the very least, however, these grounds may be used as basis for legal separation.

How is “legal separation” different from annulment?

The basic difference is this – in legal separation, the spouses are still considered married to each other, and, thus, may not remarry. [See: Steps / Procedure in Legal Separation Cases]

Is legal separation faster than annulment?

Not necessarily. The petitioner in a legal separation, just like in an annulment, is still required to prove the allegations contained in the petition. More important is the mandatory 6-month “cooling off” period in legal separation cases. This is not required in annulment or declaration of nullity cases. The court is required to schedule the pre-trial conference not earlier than six (6) months from the filing of the petition. This period is meant to give the spouses an opportunity for reconciliation.

What are the grounds for legal separation?

1. Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner.

2. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation.

3. Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement.

4. Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned.

5. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent.

6. Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent.

7. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad.

8. Sexual infidelity or perversion.

9. Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner.

10. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

The term “child” shall include a child by nature or by adoption.

[See also: Grounds for Legal Separation]

Should I file a petition for legal separation, can I use my own sexual infidelity as a ground?

It is interesting to note that among the grounds for legal separation, as listed above, only “sexual infidelity or perversion” is not qualified by the phrase “of the respondent” or “by respondent”. This may give the impression that the sexual infidelity of the petitioner, or the one who filed the petition, may be used as a ground in legal separation. We must consider, however, that legal separation is filed by the innocent spouse or the “aggrieved party” against the guilty spouse.

What happens if after learning that your husband (or wife) is unfaithful (No. 8 above), you still co-habitate with him/her?

This may be construed as condonation, which is a defense in actions for legal separation. In addition to condonation, the following are the defenses in legal separation:

  • 1. Consent.
  • 2. Connivance (in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for legal separation).
  • 3. Mutual guilt (both parties have given ground for legal separation).
  • 4. Collusion (to obtain decree of legal separation).
  • 5. Prescription (5 years from the occurence of the cause for legal separation).

If you’re separated from your spouse for 4 years, is that a sufficient ground for annulment?

No. De facto separation is not a ground for annulment. However, the absence of 2 or 4 years, depending on the circumstances, may be enough to ask the court for a declaration of presumptive death of the “absent spouse”, in which case the petitioner may again re-marry. [See also: Can someone remarry without going to court due to absence or separation?; and How Many Years Before a Marriage Becomes Void in the Philippines]

What are the grounds for declaration of nullity of marriage?

1. Minority (those contracted by any party below 18 years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians).

2. Lack of authority of solemnizing officer (those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages, unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so).

3. Absence of marriage license (except in certain cases).

4. Bigamous or polygamous marriages (except in cases where the other spouse is declared as presumptively dead).

5. Mistake in identity (those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other).

6. After securing a judgement of annulment or of asolute nullity of mariage, the parties, before entering into the subsequent marriage, failed to record with the appropriate registry the: (i) partition and distribute the properties of the first marriage; and (ii) delivery of the children’s presumptive legitime.

7. Incestous marriages (between ascendants and descendants of any degree, between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood).

8. Void by reason of public policy. Marriages between (i) collateral blood relatives whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree; (ii) step-parents and step-children; (iii) parents-in-law and children-in-law; (iv) adopting parent and the adopted child; (v) surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child; (vi) surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter; (vii) an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter; (viii) adopted children of the same adopter; and (ix) parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person’s spouse, or his or her own spouse.

9. Psychological Incapacity. Psychological incapacity, which a ground for annulment of marriage, contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. Irreconcilable differences, conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment, by themselves, also do not warrant a finding of psychological incapacity. We already discussed the guidelines and illustrations of psychological incapacity, including a case involving habitual lying, as well as the steps and procedure in filing a petition.

[See also: Grounds for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage]

Please note, however, that there are still other grounds to declare a marriage as null and void.

——————

Browse through the comments below to check if your questions are similar to that of others. Other common issues are consolidated in Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Costs in seeking an Annulment, and other related posts. You can check the Related Posts at the bottom of each post.

Atty.Fred

884 thoughts on “Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers

  1. Avatarkpm_0301

    Dear Atty,

    I would like to inquire abt the bigamy case. My cousin has remarried before his first marriage was dissolved. Now his second wife got into trouble and got a fight with her friend about a certain loan. Her friend wants her to shoulder the loan or the money that was missing and they told her that if she do not pay that they will file a case against her and will definitely petition a bigamy case for her and my cousin. Threatening her that they can easily issue a warrant of arrest because her friend is an attorney and has access to most city halls and nbi. How will that be possible? They are both scared, scared enough to come to work because they know that somebody might just catch them and arrest them.

    Reply
    1. AvatarMelissa

      Atty posible po Ba na mapawalang bisa Ang kasal nmin Ng dati qng Asawa .kasal po Kami Sa civil at nagpakasal po xa Sa Muslim Sa ibang babae .

    2. Avatarjoseph

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    3. Avatarmary rose aniƱon

      Atty. Ask ko lang po. Pwd ba ako makafile ng annulment or separation sa partner ko. Na sa nabasa ko po sa mga grounds sa case i think hindi ko ma meet. May possible pa ba na ibang dahilan na pwede kung magamit para sa sitwadyon namin.

    4. pnlpnl

      Hi Mary Rose. Hindi namin masasagot ang iyong katanungan dahil kailangang malaman ang mga facts at tingnan kung pasok sa ibang mga grounds. Good luck.

    5. Avataridol

      atty if the parental advised is fake and the license of marriage is issued before three months, does the marriage is void?

    6. AvatarAriel

      If the decision of the filed annulment case is already declared Null and Void. How will the defendant know? Does he need to have a copy of it? What will happen to the defendant?

    7. Avatarevelyn

      ang aswa ko po ay isang japanese. before we got married here nag divorce sila ng ex wife nya sa japan pero kinsal cla dto sa pinas. valid pa ba ang kasal nla sa pinas? nksal nmn po ako ng maayos sa knya wlang naging problema. in terms of conjugal property may bahay po kming ipagawa, may habol po ba ang ex wife nya sa bahay na nakititulo sa pangalan ko in case something bad will happen to my husband?

  2. Atty. FredAtty. Fred Post author

    emcoluk, foreigners are governed by their own laws when it comes to divorce. As long as they validly secure a divorce outside the Philippines, the divorce decree is respected under Philippines laws.

    kpm, I’m terribly sorry; please read the “Terms“. In the near future, we may be discussing preliminary investigations, warrantless arrests and inquests in criminal cases. You might see the answers in that post. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Avataremcoluk

    If two foreigners marry in the Philippines and then obtain a divorce outside the Philippines…is this divorce recognised under Philippines Law

    Reply
  4. Avatarrwan

    attorney,

    is there such a law where a married woman can buy a property using her maiden name? will it be still considered ‘conjugal’?

    tnx

    Reply
  5. Atty. FredAtty. Fred Post author

    Rwan, I’m not aware of any. On the other hand, a married woman is required to use the family name of the husband. The extent by which a married woman may acquire property under her own name largely depends on the kind of property relationship legally established during the time of marriage. Beyond that information, I suggest you consult with your lawyer since we’re prohibited from giving any legal advice in the absence of atty-client relationship. Of course, something could be done to achieve your goal and I trust your lawyer knows it.

    Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Avataredward

      attorney fred, i need your advise regarding for legal separation and annulment, i want to marry again the girls who love me in true , im already separated around 3 years so i want to clear my statues , what should i do ? im waiting for your response thank you and more power God bless…

    2. AvatarMarlene

      Dear Atty. Fred,

      I’m separated for more than 11 yrs. now. but not legally. He doesnt support our kids. I try to contact him to ask to support now for our kids, but all the contact numbers are not reachable. Can I file a case to him, coz Im working as an OFW. I want also to file for annulment. Please help. Looking forward for your response. Thank you.

  6. Avatarrwan

    in addition to what i wrote, i got married in 1997 and got separated in 2004. the father of my 9-yr old son and i have no communication since then (no child support, etc which is not the issue). i’m planning to buy a house & lot but wonder if i can use my maiden name. and of course, i don’t want him to have a ‘share’ with this in case i file for annulment in the future.

    tnx again

    Reply
  7. Avatarmarchfour08

    Attorney Fred,

    Could that be a valid ground to file for a petition of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage? Is that certification an enough and valid proof that we don’t have any marriage license? How long will it usually take for such petition in family court? How long does it usually cost? Should I really need to wait for the court’s declaration before I could get married? Please help me. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. Avatarangel_jasmine

    Attorney Fred,

    Is there a way to file or get an annulment eventhough the wife doesn’t appear in court? Are there documents that needs to be signed by the wife in the process of the annulment? What if she doesn’t agree to sign? Is it still possible to continue the annulment? Is the divorce decree enough to finalize the annulment?

    Reply
  9. AvatarSEK800i

    Atty. Fred,

    Should an annulment be granted, can a church wedding be possible? Thank you for your time. I’m looking forward to your response. God bless.

    Reply
    1. AvatarEdgar

      Atty. Fred,

      In my case, can I file a annulment because during my 10 years in marriage we don`t have a child just because of her incapacity . Currently i was in love with other woman and i want to marry her.

      Thank you

      Ed

  10. Avatarangel_jasmine

    Atty Fred,

    Will the Philippine court still recognized the divorce even the wife is neither a US immigrant or citizen?

    Reply

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