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Philippines: Divorce and Annulment

Updated on September 23, 2014

Release Me (Engelbert Humperdinck)

Philippines is one of the only 2 countries in the world that doesn't have a divorce law but don't think that people there will put up with anything just to stay married. Things happen. If the couple have means, they will process annulment. If they don't they'll just part ways, go on with the next relationship without officially dissolving their previous marriage. I lot of separated people would love to process an annulment but the cost and demands of doing it holds them back.

How does an annulment work? Get a lawyer! Every case is unique. If "irreconcilable differences" is the most overused term in the divorce, its "psychological incapacity" for the Philippine annulment. The average cost is between P200,000.00- P500.000.00 depending on the case. Process varies; some can only take for as short as 3 months, some may have to attend court hearing, some were not.

Here's what's interesting:

(1) If the marriage is between two Filipino-Muslims and it was solemnized in accordance to the Muslim law, they can divorce.

(2) If the Filipino party was married to a foreign national in the Philippines and the divorce (doesn't have to be an annulment) was initiated by the the foreign national (even from abroad), the divorce will be recognized in the Philippines. The Filipino national can just process the that divorce to be recognized in the Philippines so she can freely remarry.

There are three considerations for the divorce to a Filipino citizen to be valid:

  1. Place of marriage- any marriage of a Filipino citizen that was solemnized outside the Philippines can follow the divorce procedure.
  2. Citizenship of the person who's filing for a divorce- Filipino citizen cannot initiate the divorce wherever in the world she/he got married. Only the foreign spouse can do this unless the Filipino citizen becomes citizen of another country.
  3. Religion. Again applicable to Muslim to Muslim marriage in the Philippines who followed the Muslim law.

What if it's a Filipino who become US citizen and is now living in the US? Can he just file for a divorce in the US to dissolve the marriage in the Philippines?
Yes. The Philippine law no longer applies to him because he is now a US citizen.

How about a Filipino citizen living in US who got married in the Philippines, can he file for a divorce in US?
No. As long as he is still a Filipino, he is governed by the Philippine Law wherever he is. If he marries someone even if it's overseas, it's bigamy. He should file an annulment instead.

How about a Filipino citizen who married someone in the US, is divorce applicable?
Yes. Since the marriage was solemnized in the US, US law should apply.


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