• Divorce decree not valid in the Philippines

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am a Filipino citizen who contracted marriage with a Filipino who is a resident of Singapore. We obtained a marriage license from the Registry of Marriage of Singapore in 2006 and the simple marriage ceremony was officiated by an authorized minister in Singapore. The marriage contract in Singapore was not forwarded to the Civil Registry in the Philippines and we have no record of our marriage in the Philippines. We lived together as husband and wife for 45 days only after the marriage and got separated for five years now. I am living now in another country but I am still a Filipino. We had no child.

    Recently, the man I contracted marriage with had contacted me via email saying that he would like to file a divorce in Singapore and asking for my consent to proceed. I have no more intention to live with him as my husband but before I reply to him I would like to seek your legal advice.

    Is it still necessary to proceed with the divorce matter in Singapore as we are both Filipino citizens and the fact of our marriage was not registered in the Philippines? If the divorce will not be done in Singapore, can any of us remarry legally in the Philippines?

    Dear Josie,
    A marriage celebrated abroad is valid in the Philippines as long as it is valid in the country where it was solemnized. This is in accordance with Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which states:

    “Art. 26. All marriages so-lemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35 (1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

    Assuming that your marriage is valid in Singapore, the same is valid in the Philippines as long as it does not fall within the prohibitions provided in the said law such as those incestuous and bigamous/polygamous marriages, among others. This is notwithstanding that it is not recorded in the Philippines. Therefore, since you are still married to your husband, you may not contract a subsequent marriage unless and until there is a court order nullifying your marriage or declaring it null and void. Other-wise, the same is null and void.

    A divorce decree obtained abroad will not make you eligible to remarry, as according to the Family Code of the Philippines, divorce may be recognized in the Philippines, only if the marriage is between a Filipino and a foreigner and the foreigner spouse was the one who obtained the divorce. This is specifically provided in the second paragraph of Article 26 thereof, which provides:

    “Art. 26. xxx Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”

    Clearly, since both you and your husband are Filipino citizens, any divorce decree that may be obtained by anyone of you is not valid and recognized in the Philippines. Thus, you are still married to your husband, even if a divorce is decreed abroad dissolving your marriage.

    Philippine law applies to you insofar as your status, condition and legal capacity as well as your family rights and duties are concerned wherever you may be (Article 15, New Civil Code of the Philippines).

    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 guide you with our opinion 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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