Divorce Can Be Recognized in the Philippines: Annulments

ANNULMENTSSince there are no divorce laws in the Philippines, a divorce decree can only be obtained by Filipinos from other countries, such as in the United States.  The problem with this is that since Philippine laws relating to family relationships and legal status or capacity are binding on Filipinos wherever they may be, a divorce decree obtained by them has no effect in the Philippines.  This is because a marriage involving Filipinos cannot be dissolved by means of divorce – at least as far as Philippine law is concerned.

Under Philippine law, a marriage can only be dissolved by means of an annulment or declaration of its nullity.  In the Philippine annulment of marriages, it presupposes that there is a defect in the marriage, such as when the consent of one of the spouses was obtained by force.  A marriage may be declared a nullity when one of the essential requisites is missing, such as when there is no marriage license or legal capacity to marry.

Another instance when marriage may be declared a nullity is when one of the contracting parties is suffering from psychological incapacity at the time of marriage, which prevents him or her from assuming the obligations of a married person.  A person who is so immature that he cannot provide for the support of the family and is so dependent on his parents may be declared to be suffering from psychological incapacity.  This is a difficult ground to prove and is determined on a case by case basis.

In the declaration of nullity of a marriage or annulment, the marriage is said to be non-existent from the very beginning or there was no valid marriage at all to speak of.  This is what distinguishes it from divorce, since in divorce the marriage is valid at the beginning, but certain grounds arise later on that become the basis for dissolution of the marriage, such as irreconcilable differences of the couple.

But there is one unique instance where divorce can be recognized in the Philippines.  This is in the case of mixed marriages or marriages between a Filipino and non-Filipino.  If the non-Filipino spouse obtains a divorce decree which would allow him or her to remarry, the effect of the divorce will extend to the Filipino spouse such that he or she can also remarry.  The only conditions are: the marriage was between a Filipino and a non-Filipino and the non-Filipino spouse was the one who filed for and sought the divorce.

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