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.

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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. Avatargonzala

    good evening po Atty. matanong ko lang po sa case ko. ikinasal po ako sa edad na 21 nagpakasal po kami noong Aug.12,1991 tapos iniwan niya po ako May 13, 1999 hindi na po kami nagkita. wala po kaming conjugal property, wala po kaming anak, ano ang dapat ko po na gawin para mapawalang bisa ang kasal ko po? ikinasal po pala kami sa RTC Cebu branch 12. kailangan ko pa rin po bang mag file ng annulment?

    Reply
  2. Avatarjenny lyn

    Hello sir.is there a possible way of getting a annulment without paying .im single mom for six years.my husband had an afair with my uncles wife and they live together with 2kids and 1kids to another lady.i want to totally be annuled to him but the problem is i dont have that big amount of money.if u can help me pls. Thank you. I dont the time to go the lawyer cause im afraid to pay .i need to work to another country to support my 3 kids.

    Reply
  3. AvatarSarah

    My husband cohabiting with married woman and she is now pregnant. How can i file a petition for annulment? We married before a judge. Now that pope announces that annulment is free of charge, what about if petition is filed in court is it also free of charge?

    Reply
  4. Avatarshe

    sir,

    im married to a japanese here in the philippines. He is already divorced in japan to his former filipino wife here’s the problem when i’ll go to CFO (commission of filipino workers) to get my certificate to be an immigrant they looking for annualment/recognition of divorced before they give me the certificate but the problem is the former filipino wife is now living in japan and my husband don’t have any communication with her anymore eversince after they’re divorced.

    my question is, my marriage is still valid here in the philippine even if the former wife haven’t recognized the divorced here in our country? should we the one who take the steps to recognized it in the philippines? i’ll really appreciate if you answer my comment.

    Reply
  5. Avatarallen

    how can i process the annulment if the guy dont want to agree with the annulment im about to file,he hurted me and i was about to die that time,it happened just before 6 months..and he also said bad things to my child..with my bf before..

    Reply
  6. Avatarlionell

    2007 nung nagdubai po ako. lagi po kaming nag aaway ng asawa q pinagbibintangan aq n may babae daw aq s dubai. pero tuloy p din ang padala q s knya. wala ho kming anak. 2005 nung kinasal kami s civil. dahil daw po baka may nangyare n smin kaya pinilit kmi n maikasal. hanggang s wala po aqng magawa. dumating ang 2008 ng november nanganak cia n ibang lalaki ang ama. dumating ang 2009 may nkilala aq s dubai n babae naging kami. tlgang iniwan aq ng asawa q at nabaling ang tingin q s iba s sakit n gnwa nia. ngaun nagkaanak po ang asawa q s iba nung 2008 at aq po nagkaanak s iba nung 2012… may knya knya n kming buhay. gusto lang po sana n maging legal n hiwalay kmi kasi wala nmn kming anak. cguro tlgang ang nagtulak s knya n magpabuntis s iba ay dahil pilitan lang ang pagpapakasal saamin. may pag asa p po b? para maging malaya siya at ako..

    Reply
  7. AvatarHonHon

    I am married not in the church but it was a civil wedding.. an assigned judge conducted my marriage .. is this covered by the nw rule the Pope from Vatican gave as making the annulment fast

    Reply
  8. AvatarRoxanne

    Hi po attorney,
    Magandang buhay po sainyo.Gusto ko po magfile ng annulment gaano po ba katagal o ilang taon mapawalang bisa ung kasal ko sa iranian national.
    please help me about this and give me advice for me.

    Lubos na gumagalang,
    roxanne

    Reply
  9. Avatarathena

    i hv a friend who had bf ang the guy told her n my kalive in cia. pero nlaman ng friend q kasal ang guy sa huwes.. ang witness nya ay family ng babae at isang kpt nya.. ninang nya ang tumayong magulang..pero 21n cla pareho nun.. tpos ntuklasan nya my other guy ung wife at ngbabalak mkpaghiwalay d lng mgawa.my anak n cl. tpos nkahanap din ng iba ung guy. ..valid po b kasal nla kung pinilit cia ng family ng girl at d umatend ung parents ng guy.. or kung d naregistered kasal nla.. pwde po b wag nyo n post email q.. kase marami nkakaalam..tnx po.. i need legal concerns lng po.. pero kung ipopost nyo po name at email add q.. wag nlng po nyo sagutin ito.. or ipost.. tnx po ng marami.

    Reply

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