Legal separation decree ends marital obligations, property relations; court awards child custody to innocent spouse


Dear PAO,
My husband and I have been separated in fact for quite a long time. I understand that not all marriages may be annulled and that I may only qualify for legal separation. What shall be the effect of legal separation to our marriage?

Dear Shane,
Legal separation is a judicial process where the marital obligations of the spouses to live together as husband and wife as well as their property relations are terminated. Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines enumerates the different grounds for legal separation. These are the following: 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, to engage 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.

If any of the aforementioned grounds are present, you may file a petition for legal separation before the Family Court of the place where you or your husband has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing or in case your husband is a non-resident, in the place where he may be found in the Philippines at your election (Section 2(c), Rule on Legal Separation). If the court grants your petition, a Decree of Legal Separation shall be issued by the court after you have fully complied with the liquidation of your properties as provided under the Family Code. The effects of a decree of legal separation are enumerated in Article 63 of the Family Code, to wit:

“Art. 63. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:

(1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed;

(2) The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and liquidated but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, which shall be forfeited in accordance with the provisions of Article 43(2);

(3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, subject to the provisions of Article 213 of this Code; and

(4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law.” (106a)

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.


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  1. Hi Pao,

    My husband and I decided to live separately, we do not wan’t to go through the legal process and spend lots of money. He will live on his own and the same way to me. We have few properties and we agreed that all these properties will be inherited by our 3 minor children. I would like to know what document we can both execute to protect this interest. I/we want to do this as soon as I can because we cannot say in the future, by chance he will have another family/children, I do not want them to have any share from any of our property for obvious reason, We agreed on this arrangement. Please advise what to do. Need your advise badly.

    Many thanks,