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.

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

  1. Wilfredo

    Atty. what is the very first steps to file an annullment (like documents).im here in abroad and she is in the Philippines

    Reply
  2. Mary j

    Atty ask ko lang po paano kung fixed marriage lang po ung nangyari dhil gusto ng nanay ko na mgjapan ako…pwede po bang matawag na null or void ung kasal ko?

    Reply
  3. Zoey

    Hi attny, ask ko lang kasi void ang merriage ko. Kahit hindi pa lumalabas ang decision ng court pwede na ako ba mag pakasal ulit?

    Reply
  4. Mhariz

    Need help to answer this….yung brother ko po Nsa abroad ng file ng nullity of marriage ung dati nya asawa.. For 15 yrs wla cla communication. Nrecieve nmin ung summon at petition…pnu po gagawin nmin nsa cebu po nka file ung case sa Manila kmi nkatira. Wala po clang anak at property.. No objection nman po brother ko… Sana po msagot Salazar…

    Reply
  5. epav

    hi po atty, kmusta po?magtatanong lng po sana ako kc po meron po akong ex ,nagkaroon kme ng anak pro may anak n sya s asawa nya. nakapagpadala ako nun nanganak un ex ko at isang beses after nun ay hindi n nasundan dahil mababa ang aking sahod tpos nawalan ako ng trabaho at nagbbyad ako ng utang dat tme.pro ngyon po ay willing n ako magpdla ng sustento sa bata pro nagkaroon kme ng kasunduan nun ex ko na magppdla ako ng sustento kapalit ng pagbura ng mga litrato ko sa lahat (meaning mapa social media or usb etc).pumayag nman po un ex ko ilan beses ko syang kinulit pra burahin dahil nalalapit n aking pagpapadala pro andun p din un mga pics,ano pong dapat kong gwin atty kpag di nya tinupad un agreement nmin ?

    Reply
  6. Teyci

    Gudeve Atty,

    Ask ko lng po kung ilang months po ba mag aantay pra sa decision na galing ng court na anulled na ang marriage?

    Reply
  7. Johnny

    Hello po,

    Kasal po ako.sa isang filipina na naging canadian citizen nag pakasal kami nung 2013 hindi nag work long distance ang relationship namin ever since na naging mag bf/gf kami social media lanh tapos nag file sya ng divorce nung 2015 e gusto ko po sana i file dito sa pinas yung divorce paper na pinile nya para kung sakali makapag pakasal na ulit ako …

    Reply
  8. Allyn Marie

    Hello, good day! Im an OFW, now in Dubai. Saan po kaya ako pwedeng mag file ng Petion for the declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage? Thank you

    Reply
  9. jenny

    hi attorney i hAVE problem po with my husband po , he don’t have job , and i am the one who gives need for my son and i want annulment to him what do i need to do po.

    is there a way to make this happen po we always not understand each other .
    i am not really happy with kind of arrangement right now.and he also had stroke for about 3 months

    Reply
  10. angel

    hi po gusto ko lng po sana malaman kung papaano po makakapag file ng annulment case and and receiving result as quickly as needed…. 11 years po kaming nagsama ng asawa ko at sa paulit ulit na ginagawa nyang mga pagkakamali na ayaw na ayaw ko ay unti unti din pong naubos ang pagmamahal ko na naging dahilan na din po ng muntikan kong pagkaparalisa kaya nagdesisyon po ako na makipag hiwalay sa kanya pero not in a legal way gusto ko po sana iakyat sa legal annulment pano po ba ang mabilis na proseso???

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers | Philippine e-Legal Forum

  12. Sherry

    Good day im sherry 29 yrs college student. Kasal kme sa mayor
    Kasal po ako ng 6yrs pero wala ako kami anak at wla din po kme sarili bahy nakikitira lng kami sa lola ko at ng last oct.2018 ang asawa ko ay bigla n lng ngresign ng wla paalam at 500 lng iniwan.. At sobra po niya lasenggo at malaks mag inom.. Sa pag babasa ko po.. Pag kinasal po daw sa mayor ito ay valid pero kami ay kasal sa mayor pero hindi si mayor ang ng kasal kasi lingo yun at may pinuntahan si mayor tangi pastor lang ang nag kasal at kinabukasan n lng pinamirmahan..wala po daw bisa ang kasal nmen pasok po ba ito sa grounds of anulment.anu po dapat ko gawin

    Reply
  13. Sash

    Hi Atty. I have my case filed since 2010 until now 2019 pending for decision. A request for early resolution has been submitted by my lawyer. What else can i do to speed up the decision?

    Reply

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