Legal separation on account of drug addiction, alcoholism


Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I want to file for legal separation against my husband because of his dependence on drugs and alcohol. We have been married for only three years now without any child. Actually, his reliance on drugs and alcohol began when I miscarried. I tried to help him but it seems that he can no longer get himself together. I told my family about it but my 83-year-old father thinks that I will not be able to file for legal separation because he said that, as far as he knows, legal separation can only be filed if there is adultery or concubinage, or if my husband has made an attempt on my life. Is this true? I hope you can give me advice as I can no longer stand to be in the same house with my husband.

Dear Lette,
A petition for legal separation may only be filed if it is based on any of the grounds mentioned under pertinent laws. We believe that what your 83-year-old father is referring to are the grounds for legal separation as provided under the Old Civil Code, particularly Article 97, which states:

“A petition for legal separation may be filed:

For adultery on the part of the wife and for concubinage on the part of the husband as defined in the Penal Code; or

An attempt by one spouse against the life of the other.”

The Family Code of the Philippines, which took effect on August 3, 1988, however, enumerates ten (10) grounds for legal separation. These are: (1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner; (2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation; (3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner, Engagement in prostitution or connivance in such corruption or inducement; (4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned; (5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent; (6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent; (7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad; (8) Sexual infidelity or perversion; (9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or (10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year. (Article 55, Ibid.)

Accordingly, you may pursue filing a petition for legal separation against your husband on account of his drug addiction and habitual alcoholism as they are included, among other bases mentioned, under the Family Code, the governing law insofar as your marriage is concerned. Your petition must be filed within five (5) years from the time of the occurrence of your husband’s drug addiction or habitual alcoholism. (Article 57, Id.) You will be entitled to live separately from your husband if you are able to clearly establish, among others, your husband’s dependence on these substances and how it has affected or continues to affect your relationship, and the court ultimately grants your petition. Nevertheless, your marriage bonds will not be severed, which means you remain to be married to your husband. Your absolute community or conjugal partnership, if there be any, will be dissolved and liquidated and the court may forfeit your husband’s share in the net profits earned by your absolute community or conjugal partnership and may also be disqualified from inheriting from you. (Article 63, Id.)

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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


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