Can She Even GET An Annulment, And How Much Does It Cost?
(Last updated 16 September 2017)
- 0.1 First Of All, Why An Annulment? I’m Not Even Religious, Why Should I Care?
- 0.2 Religious Annulments:
- 0.3 Civil Annulments:
- 0.4 Well, You May Now Fast Forward To The Philippines
- 0.5 There Is Legal Annulment
- 0.6 According to The Family Code of the Philippines, there are 9 legal grounds for the annulment of a marriage:
- 0.7 (1) If either party is below 18 years of age, even with the consent of parents or guardians;
- 0.8 (2) If the marriage was solemnized by a person not legally authorized to perform marriages;
- 0.9 (3) If the marriage was solemnized without license, except those allowed under the law;
- 0.10 (4) Bigamous or polygamous marriages (if either party was already married);
- 0.11 (5) If the marriage was contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other;
- 0.12 (6) Subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53;
- 0.13 (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;
- 0.14 (8) If the marriage is incestuous;
- 0.15 (9) Or if the marriage is void from the beginning for reasons of public policy (You need a lawyer to brief you on this).
- 0.16 So Which Of The Legal Grounds Applies to Your Marriage?
- 0.17 First You Need a Lawyer
- 0.18 Acceptance Fee:
- 0.19 Filing of Petition:
- 0.20 Pleadings:
- 0.21 Appearance Fees:
- 0.22 Bottom Line
- 0.23 The Most Backward Thing Compared to the USA Laws?
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Share this Article:
First Of All, Why An Annulment? I’m Not Even Religious, Why Should I Care?
Well if you are a Filipino and you get married to someone and then decide you want “Out” of the marriage, then a Philippine court annulment is your/her only legal chance at freedom.
This sounds too simple for many people, but after receiving this question many times I feel need to start by setting things straight here.
A lot of people, often highly intelligent otherwise, never quite learned that there are two completely different “annulments” out there.
Typically this refers to annulments which dissolve a marriage under the laws of the Catholic Church. They are based under Cannon or ecclesiastical law, especially (in the Roman Catholic Church) that laid down by papal pronouncements.
You may indeed, if you are Catholic or if your bride to be is Catholic, want to pursue such an annulment, mainly because the Catholic Church (Cannon Law) does NOT recognize divorce from any civil court, and even if you are legally divorced you are probably still married in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
Many people, a few years ago on the Pope’s last visit to the Philippines, noted that the Holy Father instructed religious leaders in the Philippines to reduce or eliminate costs for annulments. But the Pope was talking about religious of ecclesiastical annulments, NOT “civil law” annulments which is what we’re going to talk about next and what is what you need to legally get free of one marriage and legally enter into another marriage.
The is no divorce in the Philippines. Out of approximately 200 counties which have laws regarding marriage and divorce, only the Philippines and the Vatican City share this unique distinction.
Now especially for most of us Westerners this requires a bit of an attitude adjustment. I was born back in 1945. I remember times in the USA when people sometimes had to go to different states (Nevada was always a big destination) in or to get a legal divorce.
But the concept that the US government and the US Constitution actually prohibited divorce? Well, even back in the “bad old days” when I was a kid, ideas like that were just too foreign to be believable. There was always a legal way. We, as citizens, have “rights”.
In fact the US Constitution really has nothing to say about marriage or divorce, like many aspects of the law, these issues are left up to the individual states. That’s why Nevada used to be a “divorce haven” and why today, in 2017, almost all US states have very liberal laws regarding divorce.
Most US states have now adopted laws that are often called “no fault” divorce laws which often require nothing more to grant a divorce than one or both parties to the marriage legally state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.
Once that happens the state issues a legal order of “dissolution of marriage” and presto, the married couple is no longer marred.
In many states there isn’t even a court appearance required for divorces where there are no issues regarding division of property or custody of minor children.
The thought that couple can’t legally end their marriage with a few legal forms and perhaps the bang of a judges gavel is completely foreign to most Americans.
“Who is the government to exercise control over who I am married to and deprive me of the right to marry another”?
Well, You May Now Fast Forward To The Philippines
Many of you are familiar with the movie “The Wizard Of Oz”, although a majority of you get this quote wrong … ‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’
Doesn’t matter much, though, if you got the quote wrong, because you’ll know what Dorothy meant when you move to the Philippines and things stop spinning from all the stress of the move and you finally look outside, you’ll certainly know you aren’t in Kansas anymore.
Under the current (1987 Constitution) often called the Cory Constitution, items related to family matters is governed by the
Civil Code of the Philippines and, in particular the Family Code of the Philippines, which is part of, or a replacement of, Book 1 of the original Civil Code.
According to the Family Code of the Philippines, there is no such thing as divorce for Filipinos … inside or outside the country. Just like Americans, Filipinos have rights also, but under Philippine law, the right to a court-ordered divorce just is not one of those rights.
There Is Legal Annulment
What is provided for Filipinos to end unsatisfactory marriages is a legal procedure for annulment through the court system. So if your girl friend is already married and you two want to marry, she can file a case in the courts to have her original marriage annulled.
If, that is, she has legal grounds for an annulment. (No “irretrievably broken” no-fault escape hateches here.
According to The Family Code of the Philippines, there are 9 legal grounds for the annulment of a marriage:
I’ve written about these grounds for annulment before, see: Grounds For Annulment in the Philippines — 2016
Remember I am not a lawyer and everything you read here is my personal opinion and NOT legal advice.
(1) If either party is below 18 years of age, even with the consent of parents or guardians;
This should normally be sufficient to cause a court to declare the existing marriage is null “ab intio”, (from the beginning), since no Filipino can legally marry under the age of 18, with our without parental consent. But nothing is “automatic”. A case must be filed with the court and the allegation that one or both parties was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage must be proven in court.
A closely related proposed ground for annulment is the case where the parties are over 18, but under 21 at the time of marriage. Parental Consent is required i this case and couples often ignore the requirement.
What happens if parental consent is required, but not secured or given?
The marriage is voidable, subject to the filing of a petition for annulment. In other words, the marriage is valid until annulled. But before you rush off to file the petition, remember that there are two limitations:
- The petition can only be filed only on behalf of the party who is between 18 and 21 at the time of marriage.
- The petition can no longer be filed after the concerned party reaches 21 and freely cohabited with the other, and both lived together as husband and wife. The marriage is considered ratified if no petition is timely filed. In other words, a woman who is say, 35 years old an who lived for years with her estranged husband can’t go beck in time and petition for an annulment claiming she was 18 at the time of the marriage and had no parental consent. If she went on being married to the guy after she was 21 and did nothing. Legally this is often termed “condonation”, meaning the aggrieved party condoned the “sins” of the other party by doing nothing and staying married.
Unless it was contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so;
(3) If the marriage was solemnized without license, except those allowed under the law;
(4) Bigamous or polygamous marriages (if either party was already married);
(5) If the marriage was contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other;
(6) Subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53;
(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;
(8) If the marriage is incestuous;
(9) Or if the marriage is void from the beginning for reasons of public policy (You need a lawyer to brief you on this).
So Which Of The Legal Grounds Applies to Your Marriage?
By far the most common grounds used to petition for an annulment is Ground number 7, psychologic incapacitation. This is the ground which seems to succeed most often in annulment cases, but again, it’s not easy.
First You Need a Lawyer
Unlike the way the law and courts operate in the USA, where you can represent yourself in simple cases (legally known as “Pro Se“), in the Philippines you need a practicing attorney and current member of the bar for all legal proceedings and filings.
Any reputable firm will charge you and Acceptance fee if they are willing to undertake your case. Acceptance fees usually start at around P100,000 (S2000 USD) and can go up to as high as P500,000 ($10,000 for larger firms with better connections and reputations.
Filing of Petition:
Typically the first actual filing step is filing for a Petition for Annulment of Marriage before the Executive Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, RTC, of the province or city you’ve been living in for at least six months. A “ballpark” figure for this step is about P10,000 ($200 USD).
Next will come “Pleading” fees. Every time your lawyer files any document with the court the terminology is that s/he is “pleading” for the court to recognize and act upon the document. There will be a lot of “pleadings (a typical annulment case has 10 or more). Estimated costs range from P5,000 to P10,000 for each pleading … so perhaps P100,000 ($2000 USD) over the course of the case.
Any time your lawyer must make an actual appearance in court you will typically be billed for an “Appearance Fee”. Typically the will run P5,000 to P10,000 an dmost case involve a minimum of 7 appreances, so you can budget about $4,000 USD for these fees.
To file for an annulment on the grounds of psychological incapacity, you will need a psychological report from a doctor or psychiatrist to use in court as strong proof of psychological incapacity.
It’s best to get the doctor or psychiatrist to testify in court as well. Needless to say the fees for all this can vary a lot, depending upon the individual doctor and how mush work s/he has to put into the case.
Typically the total costs add up to P165,000 to P200,000 (about $4000 USD) for this phase of the case.
How Long Does All This Take?
“The processing time depends on the place where the case is filed.
For example in Quezon City, it will take 3 to 5 years to conclude a nullity of marriage case. While in Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, and, Pasig, it will take around 2 years.
Processing time can be even longer if there are complications — such as if there are properties involved or there is an issue of the custody of the children. And of course, the longer it goes on, the more it will cost.
Want To Convert to Islam
Of course, you could always convert to Islam. If both parties wanting to divorce are Muslims they can obtain a civil divorce in the Philippines.
If the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law, a divorce can be granted.
These divorces are legal in the Philippines, they happen all the time and they are cheap and quick. But you better read that last sentence, in bold, again.
Muslim or “Sharia Law” divorces are only legal _IF_ and only if the marriage being terminated was celebrated under the laws of Islam. The Muslim courts can not order divorces that ere conducted as Christian religious ceremonies or even as civil marriages by judges, mayors and so forth.
There are some less than scrupulous folks advertising here in the Philippines that they can “convert you” in a matter of minutes, have your marriage dissolved and then “convert” you back, but if the original marriage was not celebrated under Sharia law, such offers an illegal scam, pure and simple. Read more here: Is There Divorce in the Philippines?
If you are still reading you are probably forming the idea that the laws of the Philippines do NOT want Filipinos to legally end their marriages.
Well, you’d be right. The writing of the “Cory” Constitution I mentioned earlier was guided by President Cory Aquino, the president who pulled the country together after the removal of President Marcos and a genuine Filipino hero.
President Aquino is held in very high regard by a majority of the Filipino people, as is her son who just completed a term as president. When asked, just before the end of his term about a bill being introduced that would allow divorce (the bill failed, by the way), the President said that:
“Divorce is a no-no,“ adding that he cannot support “something like they do in Las Vegas” where “you get married in the morning [and] you get divorced in the afternoon.”
This is typical of modern, high-level thinking on the subject of divorce here in the Philippines.
Getting out of a marriage is not easy and the outlook for it becoming easy any time soon seems bleak.
The Most Backward Thing Compared to the USA Laws?
Read up on this up to date annulment report: Annulment in the Philippines — Real World Report — 2017
In the USA we are used to “cooperative” divorces, when husband and wife decide they have both had enough and the “marriage is irretrievably broken”.
In the Philippines not only is it nearly impossible for a husband and wife to “cooperate” on getting and annulment, it is illegal!
Also, as explained in the article above, if you are a foreigner who wants to marry and already-married Filipina and you are supporting here by helping her hire a lawyer, paying the bills, etc., well fine.
But KEEP A LOW Profile! Above all, don’t get your name involved on court documents or even worse. show up in court, because many judges will just throw the entire case out of court.
The Constitution, the resulting laws and the courts, who enforce the law do NOT want her to get an annulment. It can be done, but it ain’t easy.
So does this help with the questions of Can She Even GET An Annulment, And How Much Does It Cost?