Here’s a recent comment I just received here at PhilFAQS where we try to have all the answers about moving to the Philippines, Living in the Philippines, Getting Married in the Philippines and the perpetual one, How Much Does it Cost to Live in the Philippines.
We do our best but there are some questions that just don’t have an answer. At least, not yet.
Remember this site is written by a lay person. The following are my personal readings, interpretations and opinions only. Nothing written here is to be construed as legal advice, no matter what country you are reading this in.
Reader Rey writes in to say":
Hi. Below is a brief description of my marital status:
1. Retired in the U.S. Military back in 2008.
OK, thanks for that information. It will have no bearing upon you present situation, however
2. I have acquired U.S. citizenship through naturalization while serving the military.
OK, this will be part of the crux of the mater. For others reading along, this means Rey has been a “real” US citizen for many years now.
3. Left U.S.A. also in 2008 after my retirement and lived in the Philippines. My former wife chose to stay in the U.S. so as my children.
Again, just to perhaps restate the obvious, the country of residence of either party will have no effect on the question at hand.
4. I have acquired dual citizenship (U.S. Citizen/Philippine Citizen) also in 2008.
So, then, since 2008, Rey has also been 9as he was before US naturalization, a “real” Filipino.
5. I have not left the Philippines ever since I came and live here in the Philippines after my retirement.
This fact also should not affec5t the real answer to the “how do I marry” question.
6. I was married with my former wife in the Philippines and were both a citizen of the Philippines at that time. We got married in a catholic church.
This then certainly indicates the almost certainty that not only was Rey’s first marriage legal, but it is almost certainly “on the books” of the Philippines … recorded in the database of the Philippine NDSO (National Statistics Office.
7. in 2009 my former wife, with an immigrant status who lived in California at the that time, has filed a divorce. Surely it went through and was issued a divorce decree which I also have a copy.
OK, here is one of the other key points of this case. Regardless of the first wife’s status as a US immigrant or not, as I am reading this the wife was NOT a US citizen at the time she filed (and was granted) the California divorce.
This means that under the Philippine Family Code, the divorce can not be “petitioned for Judicial Recognition” in the Philippines because it fails an important test regarding the rules of foreigner-Filipino marriages. The divorce was filed by the Philippine citizen against the dual citizen, foreigner and Filipino spouse … in this case, reader Rey.
If we look at the law as if Rey were a Philippine citizen only (not a dual citizen), this divorce would, of course, NOT be recognized by the Philippines. Divorce between two Filipino citizens is NOT legal under Philippine law.
If we were to look at the case as if Rey were a US citizen only, the divorce would be a priori valid, as the Philippines accepts dissolutions of marriage regarding a US citizen as legal and binding in the Philippines so long as they are legal and binding in the country.
But the facts of the case are that Rey is neither a Philippine citizen only nor a US citizen only. This puts him somewhat if a gray or nebulous area of the law. The answers to his direct questions below can not (from my perspective) be made definitely.
Many who are not in the position of being a dual Filipino/foreign citizen, living in the Philippines, may not understand the way things actually operate here … in the real world, not in accordance with any specific law.
As Rey goes about his daily business, no one asks Rey, “Hey, are you a dual citizen”? There is no “Dual Citizen” ID card, or any official government database either in the UDS or in the Philippines which makes note of his dual status.
He may, if he chooses hold both a Philippine and a US passport. Perfectly legal under the laws of both countries. And in the course of day to day living, no one ever asks for a person’s passport, anyway.
And legally, in his current status and location, Rey doesn’t even need a passport. As a Filipino living in the Philippines, he obviously needs no passport. As an American, not travelling, he really needs no US passport either.
Conventional thought might suggest in some people’s minds that Rey should act as if he were either a foreigner or a Filipino. He should, “make up his mind, dang it.”
But legally there is no requirement for Rey to ‘choose” either of his nationalities over the other nationality. It is totally up to Rey how he choses to present himself, and thus be treated. A very difficult concept for anyone not in the dual citizen category to “get their head around.” It’s difficult, to say the least.
Here are my questions:
1. Is the divorce honored here in the Philippines based on the information I mentioned above?
So far as I know, Rey, yes (or no). Yes it is honored, based upon your US citizen status … see the link above.
Based upon your Philippine citizen status? Nope, can’t be, it is contrary to Philippine law.
Is this confusing? Well it certainly is to me. The word “absurd” even comes to mind. How can a citizen, legal in every other respect, be both married and single at the same time?
2. If yes, can I be able to re-marry again?
Again, all I can say is, as a US citizen it is my opinion you are totally legal to marry.
As a Philippine citizen? not so much.
3. What shall I do to completely legalize my divorce with my former wife as far legal matters here in the Philippines since we were married here to begin with?
It matters not where you were married, Rey. The only thing that matters, according to several famous court decisions here in the Philippines, is your citizenships at the time of the divorce. As to what you should do, I suggest consulting with a good attorney, one who actually works with these sort of cases …not someone’s nephew who just passed the bar and typically notarizes forms and does wills for a living. It’s complex.
4. If not, then what shall I do to once and for all be legally separated with her here in the Philippines?
Let me be clear that you do not want a “Legal separation” under Philippine law. That won’t allow you to marry someone else. I think you are just using the term in the general sense of having the marriage legally dissolved. As a Filipino citizen, the only way I kno
w that is currently covered under the Philippine Family Code is to ask your ex to file an annulment case in the Philippines. And not only does that sound absurd, sine you are already not married to the woman in the US citizen side of your person, but you likely don’t have grounds for an annulment under Philippine slaw.
Rey, welcome. And let me say two things.
First I really appreciate the way you laid information out. I so often get these “he”, “she”, “here” and “there” sort of questions that make me a little crazy trying to figure out who did what to whom and in which country.
Second, I have been “hoist by my own petard” as they used to say. I asked, just a few days ago for the “Hard Questions”. The old Chinese proverb says, “be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.”
I got it. This one is hard indeed.
You are, my friend, literally in between a rock and a very hard place.
The difficulty is, the law really does not cover your situation. If a law, such as, say, the Philippine Family Code, (ARTICLE 26 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 209, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES) actually addresses some particular action or situation, then it’s quite simple to say “You can or you can’t”. The law speaks for itself.
But in addition to the fact that the current “edition” of the Philippine Family Code is somewhat vague on many marital matters involving Filipinos and foreigners … see this great article by Senator Pia Cayetano , proposing very necessary revisions in Article 26 in the area of foreigner-Filipino marriages and divorces as just one example), the law is totally silent, in so far as I can find, regarding your ‘special’ situation … being both a Filipino and an American citizen.
Article 26 predates Republic Act 9225 (The so-called Dual Citizen Act), so one can not blame the framers of the Family Code for failing to address the question of legal dual citizens which did not exist at the time Article 26 was written … how do we treat a Filipino who is also a Foreigner? To my limited knowledge this has not yet been addressed.
I tried to furnish answers to your questions above, but I truly have no real basis in fact for several of my opinions.
It’s mainly a matter of how do YOU wish to see yourself … as a foreigner or as a Filipino … legally you are both, but the law only seems to address either or, not both legal nationalities held at the same time. (Which is your case as well as the case of many thousands of your kababayan).
If you wanted to marry in the Philippines, as an American citizen, you simply follow the provisions here: GETTING MARRIED IN THE PHILIPPINES. From the standpoint of the US your marriage would be totally clear as a legally married person, sine you were free to marry based on the decree of divorce from your previous marriage.
But as a Filipino you already have a marriage “on the books” at the NSO and typically the only way to get your “civil status” changed with the NSO is for a court to order them to do so.
I truly have no idea of what your other remedies might be. Sorry, but you certainly stumped me on this one … any comments from other readers on this?