• Divorce decree obtained abroad has to be recognized by local court

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I was married to a Japanese here in the Philippines. We then decided to move to his home country and lived there for almost a decade. Unfortunately, our relationship became so strained that we decided to get a divorce in Japan. I then decided to return here in the Philippines to start a new life. I now have a new man in my life and we are thinking of getting married. However, I’m having a problem because of my marital status from a certification from the National Statistics Office indicating that I’m still married despite my divorce in Japan. I tried to correct this by presenting my divorce papers from Japan but I was told that I still need to get a court order regarding this. I don’t understand this requirement since I have complete Japanese documents which already finalized my divorce. How can I marry again? I hope you can clarify this matter. More power!

    Dear Aurora,
    According to the Family Code of the Philippines, a Filipino married to a foreigner can be married again if a divorce is validly obtained abroad by the foreign spouse (Article 26). Despite this, a mere acquisition of a divorce decree will not automatically entitle you to get married again.

    In addition to obtaining a divorce abroad, it is required that the foreign divorce decree be recognized here in the Philippines. Mere presentation of the foreign divorce decree is not enough. It is opined by the Supreme Court of the Philippines that a divorce decree obtained abroad has to be recognized first by Philippine court before it can carry an effect here in the Philippines (Enriquez Vda. Catalan v. Catalan-Lee, G.R. No. 183622, February 8, 2012). Thus, it is necessary that a petition for the recognition of the foreign divorce decree be filed in our courts in order to begin the procedure for its recognition here in the Philippines.

    In filing a petition for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree, it is required that the foreign divorce decree be proven in Philippine court to be authentic in accordance with our Rules on Evidence, and that the foreign divorce decree was made in accordance with the laws of the country where it was obtained. Thus, your foreign divorce will only carry an effect here in the Philippines once a decision has been made by the court ruling that it formally recognizes and accepts your foreign divorce decree as authentic and valid. Thereafter, the court will order the change in your official marital status from married to single. Only then will you be able to validly marry again.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appre-ciation 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.


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