This article was first published some years ago. Recently a different reader has been in touch with me on virtually the same issues with the same problems. The saga never ends. I’ve updated and republished the original article in hopes a new generation of readers may gain an understanding of why divorce in the Philippines is such a difficult undertaking.
Here’s an interesting and downright poignant issue regarding Philippine Divorce a reader wants help with. But despite the US and Canadian connections it is no different that about 300 or 400 hundred other similar queries I have had heard. And the answers are all in
Marriage, Nationality and Divorce (and the related articles, if you can dig them out).
But I’ll amplify/restate a few things to try to make things more clear. Piece by piece:
I have one for you …. My girlfriend was married in the Philippines over 8 years ago. later when she was 8 months pregnant she found out that her husband was already married to another woman the next town over and had children there too…
Sadly this story is so common it hardly bears commenting. This happens ALL the time in the Philippines.
Men do this, women le them get away with it, society nods their heads and changes the conversation to ignore the facts, and life goes on.
This is one of the reasons I recommend these guys: PointmanPI – Your Investigator in the Philippines Before you marry.
If She’s Already Married Then You and She Can NOT Marry
- 0.1 If She’s Already Married Then You and She Can NOT Marry
- 0.2 You Can’t Run — Wherever You Go, There You Are
- 0.3 Her Marriage May Well Be Void, But Nothing Happens Automatically
- 0.4 The Law of the Philippines Follows Her Everywhere
- 0.5 The Legal Solution
- 0.6 Get The Now Canadian Husband to Divorce Her
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
- 3 Share this Article:
For every girl with an issue like this who confesses, there are many more who do not. The thought process seems to be, keep it hidden away and perhaps it will never jump up and ‘bite’ anyone. (or, then again … )
she left him and stopped using his name as soon as she knew the truth ..
So years and years ago when the ugly truth came out, she kept it quiet and ran away from it.
You Can’t Run — Wherever You Go, There You Are
Now I am not saying this to insult her personally, but to point out two things, especially for the benefit of those reading this who are hiding or ignoring the same issues:
- One can NOT run away from issues like this and expect they will not jump up and “bite” you in the future.
- You and she are obviously concerned about the time it is taking to rectify the situation. I can’t help that. But just realize how long this has been unattended and how snarled it is now is, legally, For those in this situation today, fix it now, it will NOT be any easier after years of ‘letting it slide’.
So basically her marriage to him should be null and void ?
Her Marriage May Well Be Void, But Nothing Happens Automatically
It would appear (in my lay opinion) that indeed this marriage is “Null ab initio” (from the beginning). However, there is no such thing as a marriage, recorded in the Philippines being made ‘null’ simply by the parties wishing it so.
The proper legal action for an invalid marriage like this is to hire an attorney to file a petition asking a Philippine court to declare the marriage null ab initio, based on the facts of the case.
All the facts concerning the husband already being married before this marriage and so forth must be proven before the court.
You or I or she can’t just declare. “Oh, well, it’s obviously invalid, QED”. The law, at least in the Philippines, doesn’t work that way.
And actually. I think it would require virtually the same type action through the courts in Canada if this were a flawed Canadian marriage.
It certainly would in most US states I am familiar with. Once the marriage is “entered into the books”, only a court can declare that the record be changed.
In the meantime he moved to Canada to work and has since become a Canadian citizen…
The fact he is now a Canadian citizen might become your saving grace in this whole mess. See below.
she also had moved to a different part of Canada for work and is now considered a permanent resident in Canada … I live in the US and she is here on a visitor visa.. after she got here we have become very close and we have decided that we want to get married …
Well congratulations and best wishes on your new relationship. But here is the ‘rub’, which it appears you know of from things you say below, but maybe aren’t sure of.
The Law of the Philippines Follows Her Everywhere
It matters not that she is a Canadian permanent resident or any other such status. She is still a Philippine citizen and the laws of marriage in the Philippines apply to Philippine citizens world-wide.
…For Filipino couples, neither of the parties may avail of divorce from anywhere in the world, the reason being Article 15 of the New Civil Code which states that “Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons, are binding upon citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad.” This means that, as enumerated by law, matters pertaining to Filipinos’ family rights, duties, personal status, condition and legal capacity are dictated by Philippine law, and these laws will follow Filipinos anywhere they may be. And since Philippine law does not allow divorce, this law goes with them wherever they reside….
If, for example, you try to marry her in the US … well, first she would have to lie about not being married,l because she IS married, however messed up her situation, and No US State I know of allows bigamous marriages.
But let’s just say she were to do such a thing. She could then apply to the US INS to change her status from US visitor to US conditional permanent resident, based on her marriage to a US citizen. Perfectly legal and it is done all the time.
But (and it’s a big but), as part of the US permanent visa process, since her citizenship is Filipino, her application is going to have to pass through US Embassy, Manila and almost assuredly her existing “marriage”, flawed as it may be, will still be “on the books” … in the database of the Philippine NSO.
Her change of status will then not be approved. (and you and her, being knowledgeable of the facts beforehand) leave yourselves open to charges of Immigration fraud. Serious stuff.
If you two marry “on the sly ” in the US and she stays, illegally, then she’ll become one of the hundreds of thousands of Filipino “illegals” staying in the USA “TnT’, (Tago ng tago … literally “hiding and hiding”) and not only should she not live in fear of the INS. you, as a US citizen, had best not be found aiding and abetting her. It becomes a Federal Offence. There can be consequences.
The Legal Solution
So, the flawed marriage must “go away”, legally. It doesn’t matter if you don’t care about her status in the Philippines, the marriage MUST be legally dissolved for at least these two reasons:
- No one can say at this date that she or you and she together might not want to do something legally in the Philippine in the future … she is a Philippine citizen and she should not be deprived of her birthright.
- As mentioned above, she is a Filipino. She still lives under the laws of the Philippines until such time (possibly) she takes up citizenship in another country.
- She can’t legally take up citizenship in most any country as a known bigamist (intentional or unintentional). The marriage is like a tumor, you can’t let it hang on, hoping against hope it will always be benign.
she has already started the annulment process in the Philippines 6 months ago and in a discussion with her Phils attorney yesterday she was told that “maybe” by June of 2013 the annulment might be finalized…
I am going to hope that what you really meant to say here was that she filed for a “Declaration of Nullity” based on the fact that the marriage was invalid under Philippine law. If an annulment action was what was actually filed, then the process seems doomed to failure as I don’t believe that was the correct action. From what you have said, this is legally not a marriage to annul. Note this quote:
Is “annulment” different from a “declaration of nullity” of marriage?
Yes. In essence, “annulment” applies to a marriage that is considered valid, but there are grounds to nullify it. A “declaration of nullity” of marriage, on the other hand, applies to marriages that are void or invalid from the very beginning. In other words, it was never valid in the first place
This is a great resource I refer people to often.
I find it very hard to believe in a case such as hers where her husband was already married when she married him that it could possibly take that long to process …
Welcome to the Philippines, at least vicariously. Sadly these sorts of cases can drag on for years. There is nothing to do about it unless you find a legal option to ‘short circuit” the issue, and in your particular case you possibly have one.
we do not want to wait that long obviously … my question is this … what are our options ? As i stated before he is a citizen of Canada now and she is a permanent resident of Canada … can she file for divorce in Canada ?? she has a permanent residence card. or if only a citizen can do it … can he file the divorce?? I’m not concerned with the legality of our marriage in the Philippines as we plan to marry and live in the US … but can one of the two of them file for divorce in Canada ??? and if so will that satisfy the US immigration that she is free to marry ??
Yes, it may be possible that this is the best course of action. As a Philippine citizen, no action she takes in Canada will affect her marital status in the Philippines.
Get The Now Canadian Husband to Divorce Her
But as a foreigner (to the Philippines) If her husband is willing to file a divorce in Canada, and if Canada grants it, your intended bride can then use the decree as the basis of filing a petition for Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce Decree.
This is not an overnight process either, but if granted by the Philippine Court, the wife will then be legally free to marry under the laws of all three countries.
In my lay opinion this is the best and most certain route to her freedom.
Sorry to rain so heavily on your parade, but Philippine law is significantly different to US or Canadian laws on marriage and it’s often very difficult for us “Notrte Americanos” to grasp easily. Godspeed with your Philippine Divorce.