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Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree

Published by Atty. Fred June 5th, 2009 in Annulment and Legal Separation. 15 Comments

Divorce is not allowed in the Philippines and divorce secured anywhere by a Filipino is
not recognized in this jurisdiction. We already have a number of discussions on this (read
more here and here). In certain instances, however, a divorce validly secured abroad by a
non-Filipino may be recognized here in the Philippines.
What are circumstances that would make Article (Family Code) applicable?
We have a basic discussion on Article 26 of the Family Code (click here: Divorce and
Annulment in the Philippines). Included in that discussion are the two elements that must
be shown before the second paragraph of Article 26 is applied:
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a
foreigner; and
2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry.
Is this provision applicable to former Filipinos?
Yes. See the discussion here.
This law provides that the divorce must be secured by the foreigner-spouse. What if
the foreigner-spouse continually maltreats the Filipino/Filipina spouse, isnt it unfair
that the Filipino/Filipina cant initiate divorce?
It may be unfair, but thats the law, consistent with the States policy of not allowing
divorce for Filipinos. This doesnt mean, however, that the Filipino/Filipina has no other
recourse. If the circumstances fall under the grounds for annulment/declaration of nullity,
then the marriage could still be annulled or declared null and void from the beginning.
If theres already a divorce validly secured abroad (by the foreigner-spouse or the
Filipino spouse who became a foreign citizen, losing his/her Filipino citizenship in
the process), can the Filipino spouse immediately remarry?
No. The existence of a valid divorce decree, however, does not automatically entitle the
Filipino to remarry in the Philippines. The foreign divorce decree must be judicially
recognized in the Philippines. This means that the proper action or petition must be filed
in a Philippine court. For purposes of re-marriage, the divorce validly secured abroad is
not automatically recognized here in the Philippines.
Isnt it enough that I already forwarded the divorce decree to the Philippine
Embassy (or the Department of Foreign Affairs) and the National Statistics Office
(NSO)?
No. The foreign divorce decree must be recognized here in the Philippines; a process
which may only be done through the courts.
Why should we waste money in filing a petition in court for the recognition of the
divorce decree?
This is the requirement of law, unfortunately. The divorce decree must be proven, just
like any fact, in court. The presentation of the divorce decree is insufficient. Proof of its
authenticity and due execution must be presented. This necessarily entails proving the
applicable laws of the jurisdiction where the foreigner-spouse (who could be a former
Filipino) is a national. One of the requirements under Article 26 is that the decree of
divorce must be valid according to the national law of the foreigner.