Read up on the annulment process in the Philippines in 2020. Getting your marriage annulled in the Philippines is a complicated process that requires the engagement of the services of an attorney to file a case before the Philippine courts. Unfortunately, the Philippines is the last country in the world that has no divorce law, and spouses with failed marriages must obtain an annulment or a declaration of nullity of their marriage to formally separate and change their civil status. The Family Code of the Philippines provides the specific and limited grounds to annul or declare marriages to be nullities.
This is a general guide on the annulment process in the Philippines:
Grounds for Annulment of Marriage / Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
Let us use precise legal terminology before we begin discussing the annulment process. Non-lawyers usually use the term “annulment” to broadly refer to the process of dissolving a marriage under Philippine laws. However, this term is not accurate, because there are different grounds to dissolve a marriage. The first method is by filing for “Annulment of Marriage,” while the second method is filing for a “Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.” What is the difference between the two? An “Annulment of Marriage” presupposes that the marriage is valid from the beginning, until it is annulled by the court. A “Declaration of Nullity of Marriage” means that the marriage was practically inexistent and void at the time of its supposed celebration. Broadly speaking, either method results to the dissolution of the marital bond between spouses.
Annulment of Marriage:
- Absence of parental consent. When the party seeking to file annulment was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.
- Unsound mind. That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
- Marital consent was obtained through fraud. That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
- Marital consent was obtained through force. That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
- Impotence. That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable.
- Sexually-Transmitted Disease. That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
- Below 18. Marriages contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians.
- Solemnizing officer lacks authority. Marriages solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so.
- No marriage license. Marriages solemnized without a license, except those which are exempted by law.
- Bigamous marriages. Bigamous or polygamous marriages not failing under the exception provided by the Family Code.
- Mistake of identity. Marriages contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other.
- Failure to record previous marriage in civil registry. Subsequent marriages which failed to comply with the requirement to record the previous marriage’s partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses and the delivery of the children’s presumptive legitimes in the civil registry and registries of property.
- Psychological Incapacity. Marriages wherein one of the parties is declared to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of the marriage at the time of the celebration of the marriage. *This is a common ground to use in filing for a declaration of nullity of a marriage.*
- Incest. Incestuous marriages.
- Violates public policy. Marriages against public policy.
Steps / Frequently Asked Questions on Annulment process in the Philippines
STEP 1: Consult and choose a lawyer who will handle your case.
This is the first and arguably the most important step in seeking to dissolve your marriage. Tell your story and the background facts of your situation (bearing in mind the different grounds enumerated above) to a lawyer. A competent lawyer would advise you on the feasibility and the chances of your petition being granted by the court. In addition, he/she would not guarantee you success, given the realities of litigation and the differing opinions of judges on dissolutions of marriages. It is important to choose a lawyer who communicates well, and tells you all the steps, costs, and risks if you would choose to file a case.
STEP 2: Preparation of the Petition.
Once you have chosen your lawyer, he/she will advise you on the applicable ground in dissolving your marriage. Every situation varies, given the multiple potential grounds for your case. Likewise, there may be different witness testimonies and documentary evidence, depending on the ground used.
A common ground used by many individuals is Psychological Incapacity, under Article 36 of the Family Code. It is strongly recommended to undergo through a psychological examination performed by a clinical psychologist, to identify and characterize the psychological incapacity with: (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage, (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage, and (c) incurability, i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved [See Republic vs. Tobora-Tionglico, G.R. No. 218630, January 11, 2018].
The attorney may also ask you to name other witnesses to give their testimonies to support the ground for psychological incapacity.
The lawyer presents the draft of the Petition to you, to review its accuracy. Once finalized, you will sign the Petition alongside your lawyer for filing in court.
STEP 3: Filing the Petition.
The Petition 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. In case your spouse is a non-resident, the Petition shall be filed where he may be found in the Philippines, at your election. You will be required to pay the docket fees upon filing.
STEP 4: Court Process
This is the longest stage in the whole process.
Summons. Your case will be raffled to Family Court judge, who will issue a Summons to your spouse. If your spouse cannot be located at his given address, or his whereabouts are unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry, Summons would be done by publication in a newspaper once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines and in such places as the court may order. In addition, a copy of the Summons shall be served on your spouse at his/her last known address by registered mail or any other means the court may deem sufficient.
A Summons is a directive to your spouse 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.
Answer / Collusion Investigation. If your spouse does not file an Answer within the 15 or 30-day period, the judge would direct the public prosecutor to investigate if you and your spouse are colluding, and report his/her findings to the court. If the court finds that you and your spouse are colluding to facilitate the Petition, the case would be dismissed.
Pre-Trial. Afterwards, the case would set for Pre-Trial. Pre-Trial is done after the last pleading has been served and filed, or upon receipt of the report of the public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties. The court would send a notice of Pre-Trial, containing the: (a) the date of pre-trial conference; and (b) an order directing the parties to file and serve their respective pre-trial briefs in such manner as shall ensure the receipt thereof by the adverse party at least three days before the date of pre-trial.
Your failure to personally appear at Pre-Trial causes your Petition to be dismissed, unless your lawyer or a duly authorized representative appears in court and proves a valid excuse for the your non-appearance. If your spouse files an Answer but fails to appear during Pre-Trial, the court shall proceed with the pre-trial and require the public prosecutor to investigate the non-appearance of your spouse and submit within 15 days thereafter a report to the court stating whether the non-appearance is due to any collusion between the parties. If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene for the State during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of evidence.
After the pre-trial conference, the court would issue a Pre-Trial Order that contains the admitted facts, issues, documentary evidence, witnesses, and trial dates, among others.
Trial. Trial now proceeds. Your witnesses would be presented first – usually, it would be you, your psychologist, and another witness (relative, family friend, children, etc.) to support your petition. Your lawyer would also file a Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence after the testimonies of your witnesses. Afterwards, your spouse would present his/her witnesses, and his lawyer would file a Formal Offer of Evidence.
The court may require the filing of memoranda within 15 days from the end of trial. Then, the case would now be submitted for decision.
Decision. The court will either grant or deny the Petition. If you have property with your spouse, it would be liquidated, partitioned, and distributed. Custody of your children would also be adjudicated by the court.
Depending on the outcome, you or your spouse can file a Motion for Reconsideration, Motion for New Trial, or an Appeal on the decision by the court. However, this must be done within fifteen (15) days from notice of the decision. The decision becomes final If no such pleading was filed within fifteen (15) days.
STEP 5: Registration of the Decree
You are required to report and register the Decree of Annulment/Declaration of Nullity within thirty (30) days from from receipt. You must go to the civil registry where the marriage was registered, the civil registry where the Family Court is situated, and the Philippine Statistics Authority.
This is, in essence, the annulment process in the Philippines as of 2019. If you are interested in getting your marriage annulled, you have to consult a lawyer. Avoid “fixers,” or anyone who represents themselves to be able to dissolve your marriage without going through the courts. Not only is this illegal, but you will only waste money which could have been utilized for the proper annulment process.
If you need help in getting your marriage annulled or declared as a nullity, you may email the attorney at email@example.com.
Sanchez & Bongalon is headed by a Pampanga lawyers in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines. You may contact the attorneys at +63 927 423 1703 (Globe) | +63 949 717 9229 (Smart) for any queries. If you wish for a personal consult, send a text or email to set a meeting at Workspace45, 2nd Floor, HTPT Building, MacArthur Highway, Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines 2009.
You may also browse other legal articles, as written by a Pampanga lawyer in Angeles City.