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:

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 former Filipinos, are recognized under Philippine laws. More discussion here (Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree; see also, Summary on Recognition of Foreign Divorce Decree in the Philippines).

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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 Can someone remarry without going to court due to absence or separation?

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.

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.

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

  1. Lorena

    Atty.. may partner po ako ngayun na kasal sa unang asawa niya sa korte.. almost 7 yrs na clang hiwalay.. tapos ung unang asawa po nya ay madalas o minsan lng magbigay ng tulong sa kanilang mga anak.. ano po ba dapat gawin kasi gusto naming makasal kami..sana makatulong po kau..salamat po ang Godbless

  2. Keith

    My brother thought that his first son isn’t his
    is this a grounds for marries under fraudulent circumstances? also will this automatically void the marriage even though they already have 4 children

  3. marnie

    sir ask ko lang …kasi po ay kinasal po ako ay 16 yeats old..pero ung nilagay po ay 18 years old ako para makasal..paano po ito mapapawalang bisa..ano po gagawin ko..

  4. antonette

    we’re married i the philippines 30 yrs got divorced in canada even though we didn’t file annulment can he marry in the philippines? our marriage valid or not?

  5. miss

    atty, i have a question. i filed for an annullment and i already got my court order regarding the nullity of marriage.But, i havent proceeded in filing for the processing of the documents which will finally put a stamp on ur marriage contract as ” annulled” in the na PSA and civil registrar. As i speak i didnt move an inch to process it, then my ex- husband married in the US. If there’s already a court order but the papers still hasnt been finalized as annulled, is his new marriage already binding and legal?

    another thing is once there’s a court order and one has not processed the papers in the civil registrar and PSA, is there an expiration to this court order if i dont process the papers right away? if yes til when? thankyou very much

  6. arnold S.

    hello, 14yrs na po ako sa abroad at di na po ako nkakauwi 15yrs sa pilipinas, hindi maganda ang paghiwalay namin ng asawa ko, gusto ko ng divorse peor wala nman sa pilipinas ang divorse….Any option na pwede ako mag apply to separate us ligally para pwede n kmi manahimik sa buhay namin at harapin ang bagong umaga….May kinakasama na ako dito sa abroad at may anak narin kmi….Please advice me kng anong gagawin ko di ko alam kung saan ako lalapit, Pwede ko ma divorse dito sa abroad in legal way, pero sa pilipinas kasal parin ako…..May mga ibat ibang lalaki ung Xwife ko pero wala nman akong evidence, only witness, tinatago lng ng xwife ko, pero ako alam niya na may kinakasama ako….Kung uuwi ako sa pilipinas im sure ipapakulong ako kasi gusto niya humingi ng 45th suntinto eh saan ko hahanapin eh di man ako pwede mag trabaho dahil TNT ako, kaya I decide na maghanap ng iba na mkakasama ko na pwede ko sandalan at ngayon nagmamahalan nman kami….Noon sa pilipinas pa ako lagi nman kmi WAR lalo na pag wala akong pera palalayasin ako…i was 21yo b4 na nagkaroon kmi ng anak ng xwife ko i was so young and not ready to have a family, kumapit lng siya sa akin para ma palayo sa papa nya dahil nanunutok ng baril and drug users…Ang pangit ng samahan namin b4 untill last year were fighting through social media. 1yr na ako walang communication….I know my plano siya against sa akin….Ayaw ko manakit pero kng wala akong choice baka magawa ko na di ko dapat gawin sa kanya kung uuwi ako sa pilipinas….. Kaya bago mangyari ang masama hopefully pwede ako mka pag apply ng or legal separation or i don’t know kng meron pang iba..Kaya lng di pa ako pwede mkakauwi hindi pa nag grant ang amnesty ko. Pano ako mka pag apply at anong lawfirm na magaling sa ganitong sitwasyon.

    Thank you
    Looking for your reply

  7. russel

    hi paano po kung same kami na catholic magasawa then yung nagkasal sa amin ay hindi catholic (civil wedding) may nabasa po ako na null and void ang marriage.. kailangan po ba namin pa rin magfile ng annullment since nagkaroon din kami ng problema magasawa (nagkaanak sya sa iba)

  8. Marie

    30yrs we’re married sa pinas nag divorced kmi sa canada he got vulnerable at nagasawa sa pinas to hurt me . Pwede po ba sya magasawa hindi kmi annulled at mag demanda ko sya ng bigamy ? Pwede ko ba ipa deport yng wife nya?

  9. Tyrlie

    Atty Fred,

    Atty.may friend po ako na may knaksma na. Yung ex-wife nya po is may anak sa ibang lalaki. Yung nasa birth certificate po ng bata is maiden name ng babae. Pwede po ba yun atty? Ground po ba yun para mpabilis ang pag file ng annulment or legal separation dahil sa ginawa ng babae na pagkakaroon ng anak sa iba. Wala npo silang communication pero nagsusuporta nman po ang friend k sa anak nila. 1 year npo silang hiwalay.

  10. Joy

    Hello po ask q lng po..balak po sna nmin magpakasl ng foreigner bf q dto sa bansa nla ..e kaso..kasal po aq ng may 9 1999 sa plilnas 5 year yrs lng po kmi nagsama then 2004 nghiwalay po mahal po kc ung annulmen wla nman po gaano pera ung bf..ska 6 years na po kmi ng bf q kya balak po nmin na magpakasal…ano po gagawin q..kng d po legal ung pghihiwalay nmin ng dati q aswa sa plipnas..ska wla po kmi pera..pngastos sa annulmet..

  11. Amarah

    Hi attrny,

    I just want to ask regarding my annulment. Nag labas na po kasi ng decision ang judge for my case and my annulment was void na po pero di pa naka finalise sa LCR na void na ang marriage ko. My question po is can i remarry again kahit di pa lumalabas sa NSO na void na ang first marriage ko?

    Thank you and Regards,

  12. Pingback: Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree | Philippine e-Legal Forum

  13. Pingback: Annulment in the Philippines: Questions and Answers (Part 3) | Philippine e-Legal Forum

  14. Erika

    I just want to ask po sana if ano mas maganda action gawen ko..un mas mabilis na way na makahiwalay aq s x ko… either nullity of marriage or annulment .. eto po situation ko.
    – ang solemnizing officer na nagkasal samin is tauhan lng s munisipyo.
    – mahal ko nman po un x ko dat tym pero napilitan lng aq mgpakasal agad agad kaz tinakot nya ko mgpapakamatay sya kaz hihiwalayan ko na sya dpat kaz nagkaron sya ng ka.fling habang nasa abroad aq..
    – violent person po un x ko… 3months lng kmi nagsama s isang bubong pero nanakit na agad sya pg di nabibigay gusto nya either material things or un weird sexual drive nya. (3months lng dto un sa pinas kaz nag.abroad aq uli after marriage.. sumunod sya after 3 months pero hindi kami nagsama.. nagkikita lng kmi at least 2-3x a month.
    Sana po mapansin nyo question salamat.

  15. Dyle

    Hello Atty. Me and my wife are married here in Philippines last 2008 and got separated last 2015.
    She went to U.S. and already settled a foreigner. She filed a divorce for our marriage here in philippines.
    If our divorce that she filed in L.A. will be granted, ma e acknowledged po ba dito sa ating bansa yung divorce namin atty.? If I’ll be remarry again, kailangan po ba talaga mag file ng annulment? thank u!


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