What are the grounds that I can use for filing legal separation? Can I marry again after my husband and I were legally separated?
Article 55 enumerates the grounds that may be used in filing a petition for legal separation, to wit: “Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
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.
For purposes of this Article, the term “child” shall include a child by nature or by adoption.”
If any of the aforementioned grounds is present, you may file a petition for legal separation before the Family Court of the province or city where you or your husband has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing. In case your husband is a non-resident, you have the option to file the petition in the family court of the place where he may be found in the Philippines (Section 2, Rule on Legal Separation). Your petition for legal separation may be granted by the court, upon hearing, unless the following instances are present: the aggrieved party has condoned the offense or act complained of; there is connivance in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for legal separation; both parties have given ground for legal separation; there is collusion between the parties to obtain the decree of legal separation; or the action is barred by prescription (Section 16, Rule on Legal Separation).
However, the grant of your petition for legal separation will not give you the right to contract another marriage. The decree of legal separation shall only entitle the spouses to live separately from each other but shall not sever their marriage bonds.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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 firstname.lastname@example.org