Divorce

1. What is Divorce?

     Divorce is a proceeding which severs the marital union of husband and wife but recognizes that the marriage between the Parties existed. It does not involve a question on the validity or invalidity of a marriage but it is terminated based on a ground which occurred during the marriage.

2. Is Divorce allowed in the Philippines?

     "Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule adopted by Philippine law." (Soledad L. Lavadia vs. Heirs of Juan Luces Luna et al. G.R. No. 171914, July 23, 2014.)

     Absolute divorce is not allowed in the Philippines. The 1987 Philippine Constitution expressly values and protects the sanctity of marriage. "Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State." (Section 2, Article 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution)

3. If divorce is not allowed, how are marriages dissolved in the Philippines?

     Under the Family Code of the Philippines, parties who wish to have their marriage dissolved have two options. They can either file:
1. Petition for annulment of marriage; or
2. Petition for nullity of marriage.

4. How is divorce different from these two options?

Annulment is a court proceeding with the objective of severing marital relations between husband and wife. A Petition for Annulment of Marriage is filed when the marriage is considered voidable or if the marriage is valid but is susceptible of being voided pursuant to the grounds provided by law.

A Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is a proceeding where the marriage is sought to be declared void ab intio or void from the beginning.

5. If my American husband applied for a divorce decree in the US against me, a Filipino, will the divorce be recognized here in the Philippines?

     A divorce decree obtained abroad may be recognized in the Philippines. If a marriage solemnized outside the Philippines may be recognized in the Philippines, marriages dissolved outside the country may also be recognized here. However, this rule is subject to conditions.

"All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the law in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35 (1), (4), (5) and (6), (36), (37) and (38).

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." (Article 26, New Civil Code of the Philippines)

6. My Filipino boyfriend and I got married in the Philippines and thereafter resided in the United States while we studied post-graduate degrees there. After 2 years of being married to each other, we decided to get a Divorce Decree in Las Vegas Nevada due to irreconcilable differences. When I return to the Philippines, will our divorce in America be recognized?

     No, it will not be recognized in the Philippines. You and your husband are still Filipino citizens, despite living abroad for a long time. According to Article 15 of the New Civil Code, "Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad."

     Being Filipino citizens, Philippine laws relating to your status and legal capacity are still binding upon you and your boyfriend even if you have become US residents. Since Philippine laws do not allow divorce, the divorce decree you obtained is invalid in the Philippines. The same rule applies even if your marriage was solemnized abroad in a country where divorce is allowed.

7. I am a Filipino working in Dubai as a computer specialist. There, I met my husband who is an American. We got married in Dubai and submitted a Report of Marriage at the Philippine consulate in Dubai. After our 2-year employment contract with our respective employers, we went to Texas to live with my husband's family of origin. Thereafter, I obtained a divorce decree in Texas because I could not take my husband's womanizing ways any longer. I returned to my family in the Philippines once the divorce was finalized. Will my divorce be recognized in the Philippines?

     No, your divorce decree in Texas will not be recognized in the Philippines. As a Filipino citizen, the Philippine laws relating to family rights will follow you and bind you wherever you go. Since you were still a Filipino citizen when you secured the divorce decree, such divorce will not have any effect or gain recognition here in the Philippines which prohibits divorce.

     It is clearly stated in the 2nd paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code that a divorce decree will be recognized in the Philippines only if such was obtained by the foreigner spouse and NOT the Filipino spouse, to wit:

     "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." (Article 26(2), New Civil Code of the Philippines)

8. My spouse and I are both Filipinos and we got married in the Philippines. We eventually had three children. When our marriage fell apart, my husband left me to live in the US and brought with him our eldest son. Years later my husband became an American citizen. Thereafter, I learned from my son that my husband obtained a divorce decree in California to dissolve our marriage and then married another woman. Will the divorce decree obtained by my husband be recognized in the Philippines under Article 26(2) of the Family Code?

     Yes, Article 26(2) of the Family Code likewise applies to Filipino citizens who were naturalized into a foreign citizenship. 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.

     "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 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. xxx If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26." (Republic vs. Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, 05 October 2005)

9. My husband A is an American citizen. After years of marriage, he filed for divorce in Los Angeles, USA and it was granted. Now, my ex-husband can re-marry. Will the divorce decree automatically capacitate me to remarry as well?

     No, the capacity to remarry under Article 26(2) of the Family Code of the Philippines will not take effect automatically in favor of the Filipino spouse. Before the Filipino spouse may remarry, he or she must have the divorce decree recognized in the Philippines through the filing of a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce.

"A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.

Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order against a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e., "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations, as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other states." (Minoru Fujiki vs. Maria Paz Galela Marinay et al. G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013)

10. I received a copy of the divorce decree obtained by my ex-husband in his native country. Could I just submit it to the Philippine Statistics Office for recognition of foreign divorce?

     No, it is not enough. The foreign divorce decree must be recognized in the Philippines and such recognition can only be done through the courts. The Filipino spouse must prove the foreign judgment or foreign divorce decree as a fact before the proper Philippine court in order to have the divorce decree is recognized in the Philippines

11. Why is the Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce not a requirement as to the foreigner spouse?

     Since the Philippines follow the Nationality Principle, the State accords respect to the national laws of the foreign spouse with respect to the validity of the divorce decree.

     "The decree is binding on private respondent as an American citizen...aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage. Thus, pursuant to his national law, Private Respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner." (Van Dorn vs. Romillo and Upton, G.R. No. L-68470, 08 October 1985)

12. How do I go about having my divorce in the USA recognized in the Philippines?
     You need to file a Petition for Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce before a Philippine court. This is a petition filed by a Filipino spouse to prove as a fact that a valid divorce decree was obtained by his or her foreigner spouse pursuant to the laws on divorce of such foreigner spouse.

     "The Filipino spouse needs to file a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce here in the Philippines. If the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage." (Gerbert Corpuz vs Daisylyn Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010)