• American married to Pinay here can file for divorce in US

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am a Filipina, who is married to an American. Our relationship is not doing well because of our age gap and some cultural differences to which both of us cannot adapt. Lately, my husband became hot-tempered and our fights became frequent. He already left our house.

    Before leaving, he told me that he would get a divorce. He is going back to the United States any time soon, for this. My query is, can he file a divorce in the US even if we got married here in the Philippines?
    Cynthia

    Dear Cynthia,
    With regard to your query if your American husband can get a divorce in the United States even if you got married here in the Philippines, the answer is yes.

    This is in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines on family rights, status, duties and legal capacity of persons, thus:

    “Article 15, New Civil Code.-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.

    Article 17, New Civil Code.-The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills and other public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed.”

    Status is the sum total of a person’s rights, duties and capacities. The rights and obligations of a person may be governed by his law of domicile or national law. The rights and obligations of Filipinos are governed by the law of the Philippines regardless of their place of residence.

    Article 15 of the New Civil Code is a rule of private international law. It is the so-called “Conflicts Rule” because it refers to a foreign element such as a foreign country or national. For Filipinos, insofar as Philippine laws are concerned, the rule is applicable to Filipinos even though residing abroad, thus, a Filipino wife or a Filipino husband remains as a husband or a wife, wherever he or she may reside or go. On the other hand, nationals of other countries are considered to be governed by their own national law.  Thus, the acts of your American husband are governed by the laws of the US, which is his national law. In the US, divorce is allowed, thus, your husband can file a divorce anytime he wants.

    Congress, by virtue of Article 26 of the Family Code, however, accorded relief to Filipinos who are spouses of foreigners to get the same benefit as what the foreigner spouse will get from the granting of the divorce, to the end that such Filipino spouse can also remarry under Philippine law. The intent of the framers of the law is to avoid unfairness to the Filipino spouse. Thus, where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall also have the capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

    After your foreign husband gets a divorce in his country, such divorce is valid here as if the same has been obtained here in the Philippines. This gives you the capacity to remarry, should you want to, and start moving on and living with your own life.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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