The Philippines has no divorce law, but divorce obtained abroad by a Filipino and their foreign spouse is deemed valid in the country. In the past, only a divorce initiated by the foreign spouse gives the Filipino spouse the right to remarry. But in a landmark ruling on April, 2018, the Supreme Court stated that, “A foreign divorce secured by a Filipino against a foreign spouse is also considered valid in the Philippines, even if it is the Filipino spouse who files for divorce abroad.”
In order to make the divorce valid in the Philippines, it must have judicial recognition obtained from a Philippine court. This will result in the annotation of your civil registry documents to reflect your change in status and enable you to remarry.
If you’re looking to obtain judicial recognition for a foreign divorce, here are the steps you need to take.
- File a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in your location. The documentary requirements include:
- Official marriage certificate or record, whether Philippine or foreign
- Report of Marriage for a Filipino married abroad, if one was filed with the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Official copies of foreign divorce documents
- A certified copy of the divorce law in the foreign country. If this is in a language other than English, there must be a certified and authenticated English translation
- Birth Certificates of the spouses and their children
- Copy of the Filipino’s valid Philippine passport
- Special Power of Attorney if the case is filed by a representative
The documentary requirements may vary depending on the country where the divorce was obtained. All local documents presented to the RTC must be certified correct by the Philippine government office. All foreign documents must be certified correct by the foreign government office and authenticated by the Philippine embassy or DFA office in the foreign country where the divorce was obtained.
- The RTC will order the publication of the petition once a week for three weeks.
- Notices of the case will be served to the relevant government offices, as well as to the last known address of the former spouse and any other necessary party.
- The case will be heard in court, where witnesses’ testimonies and other evidences will be presented.
- Once all evidences have been presented, a Formal Offer of Evidence and a final Memorandum will be filed by the petitioner to the RTC.
- The court’s decision usually comes after a few months. The decision is registered in the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO) within the RTC’s jurisdiction.
- If the court grants the petition, the RTC decision along with other documentary requirements is processed through various government agencies, including the LCRO and the City Civil Registry Office in Manila, where they are duly registered and annotated.
- The processed documents are then submitted to the Office of the Civil Registrar-General in Manila, who amends your status to “single.”
Note that preparing and processing the right documents are essential in accomplishing the judicial recognition process. It’s important to work with legal experts who can help you achieve this as seamlessly as possible. For more information, get in touch with the attorneys at Duran & Duran-Schulze here.