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Voiding a Marriage in the Philippines

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Morgan Jones

The team at Decker, Pex & Co have been awesome to work with in helping our US company establish banking in Israel and in providing counsel for legal needs in Israel. I highly recommend!

Over 80% of the Filipino population are devout Catholic Christians. The Philippines is one of the only two states that deny their (Christian) citizens the right to divorce, with the other state being the Vatican. However, there are various cases in which it is possible to void a marriage in the Philippines, as detailed below.

At our law firm you can find a lawyer to aid you with voiding or annulling a marriage in the Philippines, depending on the circumstances. Our firm specializes in the current laws of this far eastern country, and can provide you with all the information and legal assistance that you need in order to marry and obtain legal status in Israel for foreign residents, including foreign workers who are considered married in the Philippines.Voiding a Marriage in the Philippines

Voiding a Marriage in the Philippines

Voiding the marriage of a Filipino couple whose relationship has run aground or who wish to divorce is no small matter. However, Philippine law legally permits divorce in certain cases. Married couples may go through a procedure to void their marriage, meaning that their previously valid marriage will now be considered as never having existed.

Divorce Inside and Outside the Philippines

Section 15 of the new Citizenship Law prohibits the divorce of Filipino couples married in their nation state, whether the couple lives inside or outside the Philippines. However, there are several exceptions to this law. For example – a couple may divorce if one of the spouses comes from a foreign country, or if the Filipino spouse became a citizen of a foreign country. In this case, the foreign nationality holder will be required to file for divorce in their new nation state and not in the Philippines.

The Philippine Legislature passed new regulations for legally voiding a marriage. The 2018 divorce law allows divorce under certain conditions, such as:

  1. physical abuse;
  2. separation for at least five years;
  3. any form of harsh abuse that can be shown to exist toward one of the spouses;
  4. marital rape;
  5. lack of mental capacity to continue the relationship;
  6. differences that are unbridgeable despite past attempts at reconciliation.

As a side note: two months after the passing of this law, a new law came into force in March 2018. The Philippine Legislature approved another bill that gives legal validity to absolute divorce between spouses, after ten years of procedural attempts to do so. The bill was sent to the legislature but, in contrast to the first bill, has not yet received practical validity.

Separation Is Legally Valid Under Certain Circumstances

Under Philippine law, couples may petition the court regarding separation under certain circumstances. In the Philippines, legal separation is an official dissolution of marital obligations, including any established relationships regarding the joint property of the couple.

However, to file an application, the couple must raise several justified arguments in court proving that they meet the various conditions for approving the application, such as repeated physical abuse, over six years in prison, abandonment, and drug addiction. Even if the court decides to approve the separation – the couple will not be able to remarry, since the marriage relationship between them continues.

Annulling a Marriage – The Preferred Option

Currently, annulling a marriage is the preferred option for Filipinos who want to end their marriage. Annulment voids a marriage if it was conducted under fraudulent pretenses, if one of the spouses faked their identity, due to impotence, or if one of the spouses was under the legal age of marriage at the time the marriage was conducted.

Although Philippine law allows the annulment of marriage, the legal procedure involved is considered long, expensive, and exhausting. If the court decides to annul the marriage, the couple will be considered as never having been married, allowing each of the spouses to remarry.

Unlike annulment, a marriage is voided if the marriage was conducted unlawfully in the first place; for example, if one of the spouses was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage. In this case, the marriage is invalid by law. The marriage is also invalid if the person conducting the marriage ceremony was not an authorized officiant.

As you can see, the process of ending a marriage in the Philippines is not simple, despite the growing movement of bodies that promote and support this option in the island state. The divorce process usually takes several years until getting the final divorce decree. If you are looking to end a relationship that you have started in the past, it is important that you receive advice and assistance from a lawyer who specializes in the field and is familiar with the local laws.

Contact Us – Voiding a Marriage in the Philippines

Our law firm in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem specializes in matters concerning Filipino foreign workers. Our dedicated staff will explain to you clearly and courteously about the process in general and the required internal procedures. For more information, call us or leave us an e-mail message.

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