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Dear PAO,

I’m just wondering if a divorce decree obtained by a former Filipino citizen against his Filipino
spouse will be recognized in the Philippines. Does this apply only to marriages between Filipino
citizens and foreigners? Please enlighten me. Thanks.
Mr. Co

Dear Mr. Co,


There is no law allowing divorce in the Philippines. It is yet to be enacted. Thus, a divorce
decree obtained abroad dissolving the marriage between Filipino citizens shall not be recognized
in the Philippines.

But in cases of mixed marriages involving a Filipino citizen and a foreigner, a divorce decree
obtained by the latter enabling him/her to remarry in accordance with their law shall be
recognized in the Philippines and shall also make the Filipino citizen eligible to remarry. This is
according to the 2nd paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which states:
“ART. 26. xxx

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”

The literal interpretation of the aforesaid provision of the law suggests that the parties to the
marriage must only be between a Filipino and a foreigner. Following then this line of
interpretation, it does not cover scenarios where the marriage is between Filipino citizens, but
later on one of them became a citizen of another country and obtained a divorce decree. But to
give life to the meaning, legislative intent and purpose of the law, the Supreme Court in the case
of Republic of the Philippines vs. Cipriano Orbecido III (G.R. No. 154380, October 5, 2005)
held:

“Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold
that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the
time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes
naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise
be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of
the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the
interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous
results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be construed according to its
spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be
extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its
spirit or
intent.http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2005/oct2005/gr_154380_2005.html – fnt12
xxx
In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article
26 as follows:

1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner;
and

2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the
marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse
capacitating the latter to remarry.”

Based on the above decision of the Supreme Court, divorce dissolving marriages between
Filipino citizens, where one of them subsequently became naturalized citizen of another country
and a divorce decree was obtained by the latter, shall be recognized in the Philippines.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have
narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or
elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

1. What options are available for Filipinos who want to get


out of marriage?
Currently, the only legal recourse available to Filipinos who want to exit a failed
union is through an annulment or a petition for legal separation. These two options
have different grounds and end results.

Under the Family Code of the Philippines, a marriage may be annulled if any of the
following grounds exist: lack of parental consent, psychological incapacity, fraud,
marriage by force or intimidation, inability to consummate the marriage and if one
party has contracted a sexually-transmissible disease. The 1987 Family Code was
introduced under the presidency of Corazon Aquino.

Those seeking annulment must undergo a mental exam, testify in court and sometimes
even claim they or their spouse entered the union while afflicted by a psychological
disorder. The process can cost at least P250,000 and take anywhere from one to 10
years given the congestion in Philippine court dockets.
Meanwhile, a petition for legal separation requires any of the following grounds:
repeated physical abuse from partner, coercion to change religious or political
affiliation, attempt of respondent to corrupt petitioner or their child to engage in
prostitution, respondent meted with imprisonment of more than 6 years, drug
addiction of spouse, lesbianism or homosexuality, bigamous marriage, sexual
infidelity or perversion, attempt against the life of spouse and abandonment without
justifiable cause for more than a year.

If the petition is granted, the couple may live separately from each other. The conjugal
partnership is also dissolved, but the marriage bonds are still in effect.

Annulment also allows remarriage but legal separation does not.

2. Why is there no divorce law in the Philippines?


image: https://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-
star/nation/20180319/divorce-quote_1.PNG

Across the globe, the Philippines and the Vatican


are the only states without divorce but allow the annulment of marriages. The Vatican
is an independent state headed by the pope, who also heads the Catholic Church. The
Philippines, meanwhile, is a predominantly Catholic country. Majority of couples also
opt to marry in church.

A week before the Divorce Bill got the approval of the lower house, the Catholic
Bishops' Conference of the Philippines issued a statement calling for "more reasoned
debates on the issue."
The CBCP warned that lawmakers packaged divorce as an "easy option," which may
result in marriages and families breaking up more easily.

"We merely ask that they consider the possibility that divorce, while it may indeed
provide quick legal remedies for some seemingly 'failed marriages,' might end up
destroying even those marriages that could have been saved by dialogues or the
intervention of family, friends, pastors and counselors," Archbishop Romulo Valles,
president of the CBCP, said.

The CBCP, however, cannot participate in the bill's interpellations. Some also raised
the separation of the Church and State as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Emmi de Jesus in a statement after the bill hurdled the
lower house reiterated calls for its legalization.

"Ang pagpasok sa kontrata ng kasal, na kinikilala ng estado ay isang karapatan.


Karapatang may karampatang obligasyong kailangan tuparin ng dalawang panig.
Dapat naroroon ang pagmamahalan, paggalang, suporta at iba pang factors na
magbibigay ng kaligayahan at kalusugan sa kanilang relasyon," she said.

(Entering the contract of marriage, that is recognized by the state, is a right. A right
that has corresponding obligations which must be met by both sides. There should be
love, respect, support and other factors that ensure a happy and healthy relationship.)

"Kapag may paglabag sa mga obligasyong ito, na kung minsang umaabot pa sa


puntong nakataya na ang buhay at katinuan sa pagitan ng mag-asawa, marapat lamang
na kilalanin din ng estado ang karapatan na wakasan ang kontrata at karapatang
umalis sa relasyon."

(If there are violations of these obligations, that sometimes even endangers the life
and sanity of the couple, it is just for the state to also recognize their right to end the
contract and exit the failed relationship.)

Gabriela Women's Party has been pushing for the legalization of divorce since
the 13th Congress when it first secured seats in the lower chamber.

Muslims in the Philippines, however, are not covered by the ban on divorce.
Presidential Decree No. 1083, signed by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,
provides that a couple married under the Muslim laws "have the right to divorce."

3. How did the divorce bill fare in past administrations?


This was the first time that a proposal to institute divorce in Philippine laws reached
the plenary of the lower house.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) is the main sponsor of the bill. It was approved on March
19.

The divorce bill was first introduced during the 13th Congress in 2005. Bills pushing
for divorce was also filed by lawmakers for the 14th, 15th and 16th Congress.

For the 15th Congress, then-Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) and Rep.
Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (Pangasinan) sponsored House Bill 4368 that seeks to
"harmonize" the Family Code "with recent rulings of the SC on divorce obtained by
the alien spouse in another country." The House plenary approved the said bill on
Sept. 26, 2012, and was received by the Senate on the same day.

Then Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan also filed a bill to amend the
Family Code and introduce divorce. The bill was referred to the Committee on
Revision of Laws on Jan. 26, 2011.

Five similar bills on divorce were also filed during the 16th Congress. The Ilagan-
sponsored bill has been pending with the Committee on Population and Family
Relations since May 20, 2014.

4. What are the pertinent details of HB 7303?


House Bill 7303 aims to make divorce more accessible to a wider range of couples
seeking liberty from irreparable marriage.

It provides that the "State shall assure that the court proceedings for the grant of
absolute divorce shall be affordable and inexpensive, particularly for court assisted
litigants and petitioners."

image: https://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-
star/nation/20180319/divorce-quote_2.PNG
The proposed measure also pushes for a pro-
women legislation as the bill notes that in most cases of irreparable marriages it is the
wife who is entitled to liberation from an abusive relationship.

The status of the children of divorced couples also takes precedence. A joint petition
for divorce should include a plan for parenthood that details support, parental
authority, custody and living arrangements of the common children.

For the legitimate and adopted children of divorced spouses, they will retain their
legal status after the petition for divorce is granted. A child born or conceived within
300 days after filing for divorce is also considered a legitimate child, except when the
basis for divorce is marital infidelity of the wife.

The bill also proposes that divorced spouses shall have the right to remarry.

It also prioritizes filing of Filipinos working abroad.

One of the grounds under the proposed bill is when "one of the spouses undergoes a
gender reassignment surgery." Other grounds include:

 reasons stated under legal separation and annulment under the Family Code
 separation of spouses for at least five years
 legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years
 psychological incapacity
 irreconcilable marital differences

The bill also seeks to penalize a spouse found guilty of coercing his or her partner into
marriage. The respondent will face imprisonment of five years and a fine of P200,000.
5. So what's next for the divorce bill?
The Senate is due to receive the bill approved by the lower house. But it is expected to
face a tougher passage there with several senators publicly stating their opposition.

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, a party-mate of President Rodrigo


Duterte, had earlier said that he is more inclined to add more grounds for annulment
than push for divorce.

Should the two chambers of Congress approve the same version of the bill, it would
be elevated to Malacañang for the signature of the president. Duterte, however, might
veto a Congress-approved divorce bill as he has been vocal of his disapproval of
it. During the March 2016 presidential debates, Duterte has thumbed down divorce.

Hours before the voting at the lower house, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque
reiterated Duterte's stance against it.

The 72-year-old Philippine leader has separated from his estranged wife through
annulment long before he was elected president. — with a report from AFP

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/20/1798661/legalizing-


divorce-philippines-what-you-need-know#kdUDiTDZHp43LJLy.99

Philippine law doesn't allow divorces, however, it does allow for legal separation, annulment and
marriage "voids" under the Family Code of the Philippines. Annulment, covered mainly by
Article 45 of the laws, applies to a legitimate marriage that now has a valid ground to undo it,
while a voided marriage is considered invalid from the beginning.

Legal Separation
Under Title II of Philippine family laws, a spouse can file for legal separation in court if
the other spouse is sentenced to jail for more than five years; physically abuses her or a
child in the household or attempts to marry another person. Legal separation is allowed
if one spouse has a drug or alcohol problem or is homosexual. Adultery or aggressive
attempts by one spouse to get the other spouse to change religions; adopt political
views or prostitute herself or a child in the home, are also grounds for legal separation.
If one spouse leaves the other spouse without having a reason held as valid by the
court, the abandoned spouse can file for separation after a year has passed. The
spouse must file within five years of the qualifying event, and the court can deny the
petition for various reasons, including evidence the filing spouse consented to the
qualifying event.

Annulment
Article 45 of Philippine family law establishes the allowable grounds for annulment. A
marriage can be annulled if one spouse wasn't mentally sound at the time of the
marriage or was forced into it, unless she continued living as husband and wife after
regaining mental competence or the threat of force disappeared. Fraud on behalf of
either spouse when agreeing to marry is grounds for annulment, as well as the
discovery of an incurable sexually transmitted disease or permanent impotence. If either
spouse was over 18, but not yet 21, and got married without parental consent, the
marriage can be annulled if the parties no longer lived together as husband and wife
once the spouse turned 21.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. LEARN MORE

Voided Marriage
Articles 35 to 38 set the conditions that void an existing marriage. All marriages
between persons under 18 are automatically voided by law, as well as a marriage
performed by an unlicensed official. However, if at least one of spouses believed the
official had authority, the marriage is still valid. Polygamous, bigamous and incestuous
marriages are invalid. If one spouse was incompetent at the time of the marriage but his
condition didn't present itself until after the ceremony, the marriage might be voided on
those grounds under Article 36.

Considerations
According to Article 46, fraud that can lead to annulment includes a spouse who hid a
drug problem, an alcohol addiction, homosexuality or a sexually transmitted disease.
Deception involving chastity, money, station in life or moral character isn't grounds for
annulment under fraud. If a person remarried because she believed her prior spouse
was dead, the bigamy void might not apply, and the second marriage could be upheld.
The prior spouse must be absent for at least four years for the second marriage to be
valid, but only two years is needed if there's reason to believe he's dead, such as an
accident. To preserve the marriage if the missing spouse reappears, the remarried
spouse must also have had the first marriage declared annulled or voided in court
during the prior spouse's absence. Article 213 places a custody stipulation on legal
separation cases. Unless the mother is an unfit parent, she receives custody if the child
is under 7. Otherwise, the innocent spouse, or the spouse who filed for separation, gets
custody, providing she is fit.

Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the termination of a marriage or marital union,
the canceling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving
the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country or
state. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries divorce requires the
sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process, which may involve issues
of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child visitation / access, parenting time, child
support, distribution of property, and division of debt. In most countries, monogamy is required by
law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another person; where polygyny is legal
but polyandry is not, divorce allows the woman to marry another person.
Divorce should not be confused with annulment, which declares the marriage null and void,
with legal separation or de jure separation (a legal process by which a married couple may formalize
a de facto separation while remaining legally married) or with de facto separation (a process where
the spouses informally stop cohabiting). Reasons for divorce vary, from sexual incompatibility or lack
of independence for one or both spouses to a personality clash.[1]
The only countries that do not allow divorce are the Philippines, the Vatican City and the
British Crown Dependency of Sark.[2] In the Philippines, divorce for non-Muslim Filipinos is not legal
unless the husband or wife is an alien and satisfies certain conditions.[3] The Vatican City is an
ecclesiastical state, which has no procedure for divorce. Countries that have relatively recently
legalized divorce
are Italy (1970), Portugal (1975), Brazil (1977), Spain (1981), Argentina (1987),[4]Paraguay (1991),[5]
Colombia (1991*[5][6]), Andorra (1995),[7] Ireland (1996), Chile (2004)[8] and Malta (2011).
There are different grounds for divorce
Unfortunately, up to 50% of marriages in the USA end in divorce.

Perhaps you feel that you have tried your best to make your marriage work, but you can
no longer continue as a union. If so, you might need to establish Grounds for Divorce.
Simply put, the Ground is the reason why you are ending your marriage.

If there is no particular reason, you will file for a No-fault Divorce. In other words,
neither spouse is at fault, but the marriage no longer works for both parties.

However, when the decision isn’t mutual, you are facing a Fault Divorce. So you do need
a specific reason. (Sometimes, there are multiple reasons.) The reason(s) will be your
Grounds for Divorce.

Different States Have Different Rulings


It is important to understand the different Grounds for Divorce, because there are lots of
reasons that people decide to end their union. Before going into more detail about the
different grounds, you should also be aware that different US states have different legal
conditions related to divorce.

Therefore, you should research the Grounds for Divorce in the state where you reside.
Then you can get complete clarity about the acceptable reasons. For example, if you are
both filing for a No-fault Divorce, your state may require that you undergo a legal
separation beforehand. Other states will request that you attend couples therapy, in
order to try and repair your marriage.

Some states do not recognize certain Grounds for Divorce, whereas others will have a
broader list of acceptable reasons.

Filing for Divorce: Costs


Due to these differing laws, the cost for divorce in different states also varies. California
is the most expensive state to file in. It can cost over $400 (excluding attorney fees). The
cheapest is Wyoming: $70 (excluding attorney fees).

If you are filing for divorce, it is advisable to investigate the total cost by speaking to a
divorce attorney in your area. Then you can also take the filing fee into account.

What Is Considered In Divorce?


With divorce, almost all elements of your marriage will need to be assessed and settled,
including:

 Your joint finances (and separate finances)


 Evaluation of child custody
 Property/living situation
 Other assets
Divorce proceedings also take debts into account (both spouses), and consider support
for any children and spouses.

The Difference between Divorce and Annulment


Some people confuse divorce and annulment. But they are different. While both cancel a
marriage, an annulment sees the marriage as never having existed. But a divorce
recognizes that there was a marriage, which was later dissolved.

Fault and No-fault Divorce


As mentioned earlier, no one is to blame in a No-Fault Divorce. However, with a Fault
Divorce, one party is at fault. Generally, No-fault Divorces are less emotional, because
both parties want the marriage to end without assigning blame. Both spouses believe
that the marriage is no longer working, but feel neither is to blame.

These divorces are usually quicker to dissolve. A No-fault Divorce sometimes uses the
reason “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.” In other words, the marriage is
irreparably broken, and there are irreconcilable differences.

With a Fault Divorce, the spouse filing for divorce needs to provide grounds. Even
though there are different legal specifics in some states, the major Grounds for Divorce
are similar in most states.

What Are the Grounds For Divorce?


1) Desertion/Abandonment
This Ground for Divorce usually involves a spouse physically leaving the marital home
for a long period of time.

However, this Ground can also be upheld as emotional desertion. It does not relate to a
spouse that does not leave the marital home, but displays cruel behavior in a way that
makes you feel that you must leave.

You can also file for constructive desertion. Constructive desertion means that one
person leaves the relationship, rather than the home.
2) Abuse (Both Physical and Emotional)
Domestic violence of any kind is a Ground for Divorce, including emotional, physical,
and psychological abuse. Threatening behavior and language can also be viewed as part
of this Ground.

3) Adultery
This Ground for Divorce involves a spouse that has an extramarital relationship during
the marriage. However, in some cases, infidelity does not impact how a property is split
between the marital partners. So it will not have an impact on child custody.

Some cases will consider situations when the unfaithful spouse has utilized marital
assets during the adulterous relationship. For instance, they may have bought the third
party gifts or property, or taken them on vacation.

Always remember that divorce is a legal process. So no matter how much emotional pain
you might feel over a betrayal, it will not be taken into consideration in court.

4) Sexual Misconduct
This Ground relates to using sex as a weapon. It relates to unwelcome sexual behavior,
such as rape, intimidation, manipulation, coercion, or pedophilia. This type of behavior
will also have an impact on child custody.

5) Alcoholism and Addiction


This Ground for Divorce can impact child custody, and it can divide up the marital
assets. As an addiction, it will be taken into account if it has impacted your financial
situation. (For example, an alcoholic or drug-using spouse may have been unable to
keep a job, or has spent excessive amounts of money on their addiction.)

Additionally, if an alcoholic or drug-using spouse has any history of threatening


behavior while under the influence, it hinders their ability to responsibly parent. Then it
will have a major impact on child custody and visitation rights.

6) Carnal Abandonment/Withholding Sex


Sometimes referred to as constructive abandonment, refusing to have sex with a spouse
can be cited as Fault, especially if it is considered to be far below the average amount of
sex in most marriages. Some courts see carnal abandonment as a form of domestic
abuse.
7) Impotence
This Ground for Divorce varies from state to state, especially the evidence required.
Your own testimony will not be enough proof to cite impotence as a Ground for Divorce.
You will need to acquire medical records, and to hire an expert to testify about this
reason. Some states will not grant this Ground, unless you can prove that the situation is
permanent.

8) Infertility
This Ground for Divorce is questionable in many states. It is no longer a suitable reason
for a marriage to end. However, undisclosed infertility can be grounds for the
annulment of marriage.

9) Mental Illness
This Ground for Divorce is more complicated, and it is very dependent on the
seriousness of the mental illness in question. However, it is still grounds for divorce, but
each individual case will be carefully examined in its own right.

10) Sexual Orientation


If partners articulate that they have a sexual orientation that is incompatible with their
partner, it can be a suitable Ground for Divorce.

11) Criminal History


In most states, if a spouse has been convicted or charged with a crime, it is suitable
Grounds for Divorce. Some states require a minimum prison sentence of 12 months or
more, so be sure to check what your area stipulates.

Other Grounds for Divorce


There are other potential Grounds for Divorce that are less common than those
mentioned above. They include:

Religious grounds
Individuals may change religions during the marriage, or they may develop stronger or
weaker affinities to their religion. But these changes may not be suitable to their
spouses.

Some diseases are also considered Grounds for Divorce in some states.
For example, very severe sexually transmitted diseases may be considered Grounds.
Reconciliation
If you have tried reconciliation and cannot make your marriage work, then there is no
route other than divorce, especially if you want to be able to remarry in future. However,
if you have not explored the possibility of trying to reconcile, it is always worth the time
and effort, especially if you have children.

Divorce is often painful, and it is usually expensive. So there are huge benefits to trying
to make a marriage work. In the USA, statistics on separation and divorce show that
13% of people reunite after separation. Therefore, if there is hope of making your
marriage work, seek alternatives, and attend couples therapy before embarking on
divorce proceedings.

Be patient, and understand that it can take time for a marriage to repair. But it is
possible, especially if the reason for divorce is No-fault.

If you decide to file for divorce, be sure of the Grounds, and thoroughly check your state
laws beforehand.

MANILA (UPDATE) - Filipinos divorced in other countries are allowed to remarry under Philippine
law, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Voting 10-3, magistrates of the high court ruled that a divorce obtained by a Filipino citizen against a
foreign spouse overseas is valid in the Philippines.

In the case of Marelyn Tanedo Manalo, the court noted Article 26 (2) of the Family Code which
provides that "where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a
divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry,
the Filipino spouse shall likewise have the capacity to remarry under Philippine law."

Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said prior to Tuesday's ruling, a divorce abroad is only
considered valid here in the Philippines when it is initiated by the foreign spouse.

Magistrates who dissented were Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Alfredo Benjamin
Caguioa.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza refrained from voting due to his previous participation in the case
as Solicitor General, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is still on leave, Te said.

In the case at hand, a lower court had ruled that the above-stated provision of the Family Code did
not apply in the case because it was the Filipino spouse that initiated the divorce.
But the Court of Appeals overturned the decision, holding that Article 26 of the Family Code applies
even if it was the Filipino spouse who filed for divorce against the foreign spouse because the decree
obtained makes the foreigner no longer married to the Filipino, enabling the foreigner to remarry.

The appellate court held that it would be unjust to consider the Filipino still married to the foreigner
who is no longer considered married to the Filipino.

The Supreme Court sustained the appellate court's ruling.

The Philippines and the Vatican remain as the only states in the world where divorce is outlawed.
Annulments are legal in the Philippines, but the process is costly and could take years.

The House of Representatives last month passed a divorce law on final reading. President Rodrigo
Duterte has expressed opposition to the measure.