How to Annul a Marriage in the Philippines

The Philippines is the only country in the world (other than Vatican City) where divorce is not legal. Married couples can choose to remain together in love and harmony, or choose the long and difficult process of annulment. However the tedious process of ending a marriage is in the country, you cannot stay in an unhappy marriage. 

There are two ways of ending a marriage in the Philippines – it may either be by an “annulment” or by a “declaration of nullity of marriage”.

Annulment is considered valid in the beginning but there is a defect in how the consent to the marriage was obtained, or the other party would not have consented to the marriage had he/she known about the impotence or failure to consummate the marriage or has an incurable sexually transmitted disease. The other is declaration of nullity of marriage which applies to marriages that are null and void from the beginning due to either parties not being capacitated to consent to the marriage, a requirement of marriage was not followed i.e. lack of marriage license and lack of authority of the one who officiated the marriage, mistake in identity and psychological incapacity.

 

Grounds for Annulment

Annulment is a court process in order to annul the marital union between a husband and wife. Annulment of marriage presupposes that the marriage was valid from the beginning and remains valid until annulled by the Court.

Article 45 of the Family Code provides the grounds for annulment of marriage which must have been existing at the time of marriage and include the following:

  1. Absence of Parental Consent
    1. Either party was eighteen (18) years of age but below twenty-one (21), and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party.
  2. Mental Illness or Psychological Incapacity
    1. Either party was of unsound mind at the time of marriage. This is the most common ground in annulment cases. 
    2. The Court pronounced in the case of Tan-Andal v. Andal, G.R. No. 19635, “that psychological incapacity is not a medical but a legal concept. It refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies. It need not be a mental or personality disorder. It need not be a permanent and incurable condition. Therefore, the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases. The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage.”
  3. Fraud
    1. The kinds of fraud that will give ground for annulment are as follows:
      1. Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; 
      2. Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; 
      3. Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or 
      4. Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.
  4. Consent for marriage of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence.
  5.  Impotence
    1. One or the other party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage.
  6. Either party was at the time of marriage afflicted with a sexually-transmitted-disease (STD) found to be serious and seems to be incurable

 

Step-by-Step Process for Annulment

  • Step 1 – Consult a competent lawyer
    • The process starts with consulting a competent lawyer of your choice, where you tell your story and background facts of your situation. Your chosen lawyer will then advise you on what will be the applicable ground for dissolving or nullifying your marriage, and evidence that needs to be presented. 

 

  • Step 2 – Psychological Evaluation 
    • The most common ground for dissolution or nullity of marriage is mental illness or psychological incapacity.  
    • The Court pronounced in the case of Tan-Andal v. Andal, G.R. No. 19635, “that psychological incapacity is not a medical but a legal concept. It refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies. It need not be a mental or personality disorder. It need not be a permanent and incurable condition. Therefore, the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases. The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage.”
    • In pursuing the psychological incapacity as ground for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage, there is a need to engage the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist, who will do a psychological evaluation which normally consists of written tests that will determine the party’s personality, and do an interview where the party being evaluated will be asked about his/her spouse and his/her marriage. The psychologist will then make a marital history which will form as the basis for the petition to be prepared by the attorney.

 

    • Once the psychological report has been prepared by the Psychologist, and all evidence is collated, your chosen lawyer shall draft the Petition which shall be filed in the Family Court where you or your spouse has been residing for at least six (6) months prior to the date of filing your case. 

 

  • Step 4 – Court Process 
    • After the Petition has been filed, your Petition shall be raffled to a Branch of a Family Court that will issue a Summons to your spouse, as the respondent, directing him/her to file his/her Answer within fifteen (15) days or thirty (30) days from the last date of publication, if the Summons was done through such means.
    • If your spouse does not file an Answer within the fifteen or thirty day period, the Family Court will then issue an Order directing the Public Prosecutor to investigate as to the existence of any collusion between you and your spouse. The Public Prosecutor will then file his/her Report to the Family Court. If the Family Court finds the existence of collusion, your case will be dismissed. Otherwise, it will then proceed to the Pre-Trial stage where you and your spouse (if he/she answered) are required to state your respective facts, issues, documentary evidence, witnesses, and trial dates, among others. 
    • After the Pre-Trial is terminated, your case will now proceed to trial where you and your witnesses will be called to the witness stand to testify and support your Petition. Your spouse is likewise directed to present his/her own witnesses after you have rested your case.
    • The Family Court will then submit your case for decision, after all evidence is presented and submitted. The Decision could either be a favorable judgment or a denial of your Petition. If your Petition is denied or dismissed by the Family Court, you can file a Motion for Reconsideration, Motion for New Trial, or an Appeal on the decision by the Family Court within fifteen (15) calendar days from receipt thereof. 

 

  • Step 5 – Registration of Decree
    • If your Petition is granted, you will then have to report and register the Decision of the Family Court within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof. You must go to the Office of the Civil Registry where your marriage was registered, the Office of the Civil Registry where the Family Court is situated, and the Philippine Statistics Authority.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much is the cost for annulling a marriage?

Rates for annulment differ in terms of where the plaintiff resides. In order to properly assess and give an exact amount of costs, we need information of your residence at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition.

 

Can a foreign decree of divorce be accepted in the Philippines?

Yes, provided that the marriage subject of the divorce was celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. Philippine courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws (Corpuz v Sto. Tomas, G.R. No 186571 [11 August 2010]). Hence, there is a need for the foreign judgment and its authenticity to be proven as a fact under the rules on evidence of the Philippines (Republic of the Philippines v Cote, G.R. No 212860 [14 March 2018]) and this can be done either by (a) an official publication thereof; or (b) a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by their deputy, and accompanied with a certificate that such officer has the custody (Rules of Evidence, Rule 132, Sections 24–25).

 

Can a Filipino spouse file for divorce against an alien spouse?

Yes. In previous rulings of the Supreme Court, particularly in Republic v. Orbecido III (G.R. No. 154380, 05 October 2005), it has been held that the foreign spouse is the one who should acquire the divorce decree abroad. However, this has been changed by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court in Republic of the Philippines vs. Marelyn T. Manalo (G.R. No. 221029, 24 April 2018), where it was held that it does not matter if it is the Filipino spouse who acquired the decree of divorce abroad. In short, it is now permitted that either the Filipino spouse or the other may file for a foreign divorce decree, and the Philippine law may recognize the divorce obtained by the Filipino.

 

What is the difference between annulment and legal separation?

Annulment is a court process in order to annul the marital union between a husband and wife. Annulment completely dissolves the marriage bond, allowing the former spouse to marry spouses else.

Legal separation is an action involving nothing more than the bed-and board separation of the spouses. There shall be no effect on the marriage between the spouses thereby the marriage bond remains. This means that legally separated spouses still cannot marry someone else. 

 

Need further information and assistance with your marriage?  Talk to our Legal team at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law. Call us at 632-8478-5826 or send an email to info@duranschulze.com for more information.

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