Divorce, Annulment, and Legal Separation in the Philippines

Divorce, Annulment and Legal Separation Differences
Divorce, Annulment and Legal Separation Differences

Marriage is beautiful, and June is celebrated as the month for weddings. However, not all marriages are successful, and many end up in divorce, annulment or separation. Separation and breaking up might be one of the most hurtful things in a relationship. Still, it happens, and everyone should be aware of this reality. 

Most couples in the Philippines separate after a relationship, but they’re still married on paper. On the other hand, some take it through legal means and try to have their marriage nullified. In the Philippines, the only available option for married couples are legal separation and annulment, while the divorce is still up for debate. 

You might be wondering about the differences between the three. Here are the definitions of divorce, annulment, and legal separation in the country. 

What is a Divorce in the Philippines?

Divorce in the Philippines Photo from Good Therapy
Divorce in the Philippines Photo from Good Therapy

Divorce happens when a married couple decides to end their marriage. By definition, divorce means termination of a marriage. During this process, both parties have a lawyer to represent them to arrange issues such as property division and child custody. The Philippines and the Vatican are the only two sovereign states without a divorce law. 

A current divorce bill is up for debate in the House of Representatives. According to the proposed legislation, there are grounds for divorce here in the Philippines. The grounds include separation for at least five years, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable marital differences, domestic or marital abuse, and a divorce decree obtained abroad. 

Divorce is not relatively new in the Philippines. Before the Spanish colonial period, divorce is already practiced by several ancient tribes all around the country. During these times, there is a form of legal retribution to the party at fault. During the Spanish period, divorce was outlawed by the Spaniards. 

Since then, divorce has been legal in the Philippines until 1988, when The Family Code of the Philippines was ratified. 

What is the nullity of marriage in the Philippines?

The declaration of nullity of marriage applies to null and void marriages from the beginning. These marriages are nullified because one of the essential requisites of marriage is absent. 

According to the Family Code, marriages in the Philippines can be nullified if:

  1. The spouse has a psychological incapacity for marriage. 
  2. The marriage is incestuous.
  3. Marriage is against public policy.
  4. The marriage is bigamous. 
  5. When one of the spouses remarry without complying with the precordial requirement of the judgment of annulment or absolute nullity of the previous marriage

What is Annulment in the Philippines?

Annulment in the Philippines Photo from Up Daily
Annulment in the Philippines Photo from Up Daily

The nullity of marriage and annulment might look like similar terms, but there are differences between the two. The difference is that you annul a marriage is considered valid under the law. In the nullity of marriage, the union is void because the marriage was invalid from the start. Annulment has different grounds as well. 

According to Article 45 of the Family Code, here are the grounds for annulment:

  1. No parental consent if either party was between 18 and 21 years at the time of marriage
  2. Psychological incapacity
  3. Fraudulent consent includes non-disclosure of either party of a material fact before marriage, such as pregnancy by another man or a sexually transmitted disease.
  4. Consent obtained by force, intimidation, or undue influence
  5. Physical inability to consummate the marriage
  6. Serious or incurable sexually transmitted disease

Here are the steps in filing for annulment in the Philippines:

  1. You should hire a lawyer to file the necessary papers for you in court. You will need a lawyer to represent you too during the annulment process. 
  2. A professional psychological assessment is needed if the ground for annulment is psychological incapability. This is to show proof that the spouse is incapable of marriage. 
  3. You should file the petition for annulment in court. Usually, this is done in a Family Court. 
  4. The petitioner should attend the pre-trial conference as a requirement for the trial to start. 
  5. Go through trial and settle the arguments in place during the annulment. There might be several hearings for the prosecution.
  6. Receive the judge’s decision and settle the assets, child custody, and other issues related to both parties 

What is Legal Separation in the Philippines?

Legal Separation in the Philippines Photo from TR Spencer Law Office
Legal Separation in the Philippines Photo from TR Spencer Law Office

Legal separation is a court-approved decision of the court that allows the separation of husband and wife. Under legal separation, the marital obligations between the two parties are ended, but the marriage is not. In a legal separation, the property regime is separated and severs matrimonial obligations. 

During a legal separation, properties are liquidated and dissolved. Usually, the spouse at fault has no right to any net profits earned by their joint property. 

Here are the grounds for legal separation in the Philippines: 

  1. Repeated physical violence or abusive behavior towards the petitioner or their children 
  2. Physical violence or moral pressure to make the petitioner change the religious or political separation 
  3. If the spouse attempts to induce their children to engage in prostitution 
  4. If the spouse will be incarcerated for more than six years, even if pardoned 
  5. Drug addiction or alcoholism of the spouse 
  6. Lesbianism or homosexuality of the spouse 
  7. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in or outside the Philippines;
  8. Sexual infidelity or perversion of the respondent;
  9. Attempt on the life of petitioner by the respondent; or
  10. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

Key takeaways 

Among all the separation processes in this list, divorce is not available in the country. The nullity of marriage applies when marriage itself is not valid from the beginning. Annulment applies if there are grounds during the marriage that can make it invalid. Lastly, legal separation nullifies the marital obligations of a couple, but not the wedding. 

Nobody wants to be in the position where they must file for separation from their loved ones. The best way to not be in this position is by becoming a good partner and finding someone that feels at home. Speaking of home, one of the best investments you can have in your marriage is a Camella house and lot. 

Camella is a Mediterranean-inspired real estate development with amenities and 24/7 security for your family. 

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