Annulment in the Philippines.
(last updated 17 September 2017)
- 0.1 A Real World Philippine Annulment Case
- 0.2 Sounds About Right
- 0.3 You Can Only Get An Annulment Based On Specific Grounds. “Desire” Doesn’t Enter Into It
- 0.4 Just “Saying So” Will Not Cut It
- 0.5 The Odds Are Legally Stacked Against You
- 0.6 The Case Will Probably Go Against Annulment If Both Parties Want the Annulment
- 0.7 As A Foreigner Your Motives Are ALWAYS Suspect
- 0.8 There Are No Guarantees
- 0.9 Adultery Is a Crime in the Philippines
- 0.10 So, Act Accordingly
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
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A lot of articles and comments about annulment have crossed through this space since the site first went live more than 13 years ago. Most of the information and questions and answers have been about the laws in the Philippines and a lot of “what if” scenarios.
Today, thanks to a very kind reader we have a “real world” story about a real couple’s journey to an annulment in the Philippines.
A Real World Philippine Annulment Case
Here’s my reader’s actual account of the journey along with my comments.
My wife filed for an annulment in a Manila court.
This is how a civil annulment gets started in the Philippines? You do know, don’t you, the difference between a civil annulment and a Catholic Church (Canon Law) annulment. See this article if you aren’t crystal clear on this, because they are two completely different processes for similar, but very different purposes: Basics Of Annulment in the Philippines
It cost us around $5000 and took two years.
Sounds About Right
This is about 250,000 Philippine pesos at todays exchange rate, and this amount tallies very closely with a number of accounts I have heard from other expats in the past. Beware of those who say it costs a lot less, or takes a lot less time. When things sound “too good to be true”, they usually are.
She had to prove that the marriage should never have occurred in the first place.
Her mother and brother testified that they were against the marriage from the start.
Then my wife had to see a psychologist who wrote in her report that after examining her and her ex-husband her findings were that the two were so incompatible that they could never live together in harmony and happiness.
You Can Only Get An Annulment Based On Specific Grounds. “Desire” Doesn’t Enter Into It
There are very few legal grounds for an annulment in the Philippines. The law which states the valid grounds for annulment actually reads something like this:
(7). If either party was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the celebration of the marriage; See: Grounds For Annulment in the Philippines — 2016
And don’t forget, incompatibility has to be “proven” to the satisfaction of a judge. This is one of the reasons these cases run so long and cost so much.
Just “Saying So” Will Not Cut It
The party initiating the suit has to foot the bill for a court approved psychologist or psychiatrist to be paid to conduct comprehensive examinations of both parties in the marriage and to furnish a comprehensive evaluation to the court which the judge then reviews when making his or her decision.
Also the person pursuing the case often has to pay for an additional, “specialist” lawyer who “translates” the medical terms in the report into proper “legal language” for the judge to read while deliberating on the case.
Don’t ask me why, I just live here and report these things, I don’t make the decisions ….
The Odds Are Legally Stacked Against You
The tough thing for many Americans, especially, to get their head around is that Philippine law is NOT written to facilitate annulment. It is written to attempt, by all legal means, to force the couple to stay together and “make a go” of their marriage.
In most US states and in Canada, the UK, Australia and many other countries, most all that is usually required is for one or both parties to the marriage to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”,
But in the Philippines the Constitution, the Philippine Family Code and the entire legal system is built around the principle that marriage vows are forever, “until death do us part”, and releasing the parties from those vows is by only by specific, defined circumstances.
What lent to the case was that the husband didn’t show up in court when subpoenaed. The one and only time he showed up he was insulting to the judge by wearing flip flops and shorts and being arrogant. The court is suspicious if both parties agree to the annulment and probably will not grant it.
The Case Will Probably Go Against Annulment If Both Parties Want the Annulment
There are very few things that can end an annulment case in the Philippines faster than the judge developing the belief that both parties WANT the annulment to happen.
Especially if the court come to believe that the husband and wife are colluding together to try to rush the case through the system.
Again, this is very strange to those of us familiar with the current Western ways of divorce where the husband and wife agreeing that the marriage is “over” is usually all it takes.
You are NOT in Kansas anymore when you file an annulment in the Philippines.
Also, the new husband to be cannot be involved in the process nor can his name even be mentioned.
As A Foreigner Your Motives Are ALWAYS Suspect
You, as the proposed new foreigner husband must take great pains to keep voice and his face completely out of the picture.
If it becomes apparent to the court that the woman you want to marry has been married to her Filipino husband for years and years, as if often the case, and then one day she files an annulment case stating she’s “incompatible” with the guy, that’s suspicious in itself to the court. Why did she wait this long?
But if a rich foreigner shows up, bankrolling the case it automatically becomes a situation where most Filipinos are going to feel, “That blankety blank rich, crude foreigner is trying to steal the wife away from this fine, upstanding Filipino husband.”
Facts don’t really matter, perceptions, however very much DO count. Keep a very, very low profile.
There is never a guarantee that the annulment will be granted so your money and time may be for naught.
There Are No Guarantees
Fellow foreigners need to understand and accept, from the beginning, that having your married girl friend file a case for annulment so that she can be free to marry you is always a crap shoot.
Any lawyer who offers to guarantee success in a case like this should be looked at with a very jaundiced eye . A lot of annulment case ‘fail to prosper” every year, often through no fault of the attorney who files the case, and no lawyer can guarantee the outcome of such a case … at least, not legally.
Also, keep in mind that there is a law against adultery, in the Philippines, and if the lady is living with the husband to be while awaiting the decision of the judge the present husband may file charges against them and they could go to jail even if he has not personally lived with her for years.
It is also doubtful the judge will grant the annulment if s/he learns that the person who files for an annulment is currently living with a new man.
Adultery Is a Crime in the Philippines
The law is quite strict and there are cases filed and arrests made of foreigners every year. You may be interested in this article, describing a real-world arrest for adultery. Making It Hard On Yourself in the Philippines
In addition to the possibility of the legal husband filing a criminal case against you, there is the very real possibility that,even after years of ignoring his wife, if the legal husband finds out you are “two timing” him with his legal wife,he may show up at your door and demand a bribe to keep him from filing a case.
This is out-and-out extortion, but it happens here all the time. In the USA, for example, the idea of the law telling you who you can go to bed with seems preposterous, but in the Philippines the law is very clear and it DOES get enforced.
Something else to consider, especially for those in long-term relationships. Marriages in the Philippine are srict “community property” marriages. Anything you and your live in GF purchase during your relationship doesn’t belong 50% to you and 50% to the GF, half of everything she owns, “He” owns. So if you’re doing something like paying for a house (which is, of course going to be in her name), you may also be buying “Him” a house. Ouch.
And last but certainly not least, if you and your married girl friend have children? Guess who the legal father of ALL children born during the marriage is? Yep, it ain’t You, it’s Him.
Update: A gracious reader, Philip, just informed me of this:
I wanted to update you on one point near the bottom of that article – in recent years, there has been the opportunity for a biological father to acknowledge paternity of his children even if he is not married to the mother. Although this doesn’t make the child “legitimate” by Filipino law, it does mean that the ‘legal father’ is clarified and, if the mother is still married to another man, her legal husband doesn’t have a claim over the child.
I knew about this provision of the law, but I did not know that the biological father “claiming” the child but I did not realize this would automatically remove the child from the lawful husbands control. Greatnews if it actually works that way, and thanks for the info, Philip.
So, Act Accordingly
That’s what I have today on Annulment in the Philippines.