Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,
My ex wife and I are dual Filipino and UK citizens. We are divorced as of December 2017 under UK law but are still married under PH law. I would really like to have an open discussion on what my options are in the Philippines to dissolve the marriage there so that one day I may remarry. May I ask for your advice on this matter?
You are still a Filipino, since you admitted that you hold Dual Citizenship.
Under Art. 15 of the 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.” This is also known as the nationality principle – you are a Filipino wherever you go – and in this case, in relation to your status. Even when you are abroad, Philippine laws will apply to you. As we have no divorce in our laws, any divorce obtained abroad by a Filipino will not be binding in the Philippines.
In the case of Abel v. Rule, Abel reacquired his Philippine citizenship, thus becoming a dual citizen of the Philippines and the United States of America. But his wife was naturalized as a citizen of the USA – so he claims that he now finds himself at a disadvantage as his marital ties have been fully severed under foreign law but subsist under Philippine law, his wife is his compulsory heir.
The Court ruled in this case that since his wife is already a citizen of the United States of America, Article 26 of the Family Code applies – 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 capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
At the time of the celebration of marriage, Rule was a Filipino citizen, and Abel was a US citizen. Even though Rule subsequently reacquired his Philippine citizenship, Abel became a naturalized American citizen, and the divorce was obtained by either spouse. What is important is the citizenship at the time of the marriage and at the time the foreign divorce is obtained. In this case, their marriage is mixed at both points in time, thus application.
Thus, if you are a dual citizen – part of which is Philippine citizenship, Philippine laws apply to you – where divorce is not recognized, except in instances where Article 26 of the Family Code applies in mixed marriages.
Thus, it is necessary that the divorce in the UK be recognized in the Philippines via recognition of judgement filed before the Philippine courts.
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