I previously filed a petition for legal separation for my marriage to my husband. Almost a year has passed from the time the court granted my petition to be legally separated from my husband and I have to admit that since then I have softened up and felt a return of affection toward my husband to the point of rekindling our passion and relationship together as a couple. As a result, we’ve decided to live together again as husband and wife. Because of this, I’d like to know if our laws allow the reconciliation of couples like us who were already previously legally separated. Can we even legally set aside the court decision for our legal separation so we can live as married couple once again and what, if any, are the legal effects of this? We hope for your advice!
You and your husband may once again live together as husband and wife even after your legal separation. The law provides that should a married couple who previously obtained a decree of legal separation decide to reconcile, they may do so and formalize their intention to reunite and live as a couple again by filing with the court a joint manifestation to officially express their intention to set aside their previous legal separation. As stated in the Family Code of the Philippines:
“Art. 65. If the spouses should reconcile, a corresponding joint manifestation under oath duly signed by them shall be filed with the court in the same proceeding for legal separation.”
As mentioned above, the joint manifestation that will be filed with the court requires the signature of both parties as proof of their mutual intention and consent to legally live together again as husband and wife after their legal separation.
With regard to effects of a legal reconciliation, the filing of such manifestation to set aside a previous decree of legal separation shall have the following consequences:
(1) The legal separation proceedings, if still pending, shall thereby be terminated at whatever stage; and
(2) The final decree of legal separation shall be set aside, but the separation of property and any forfeiture of the share of the guilty spouse already effected shall subsist, unless the spouses agree to revive their former property regime.
The court’s order containing the foregoing shall be recorded in the proper civil registries. (Article 66, Family Code of the Philippines)
As can be seen from the above-cited provisions, the law recognizes and allows legally separated couples, like yourselves, to reconcile and legally live again as a married couple not only after a legal separation but even during the pendency of a legal separation proceedings by filing the proper action with the courts to formalize the couple’s intention to harmoniously unite once more as husband and wife.
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 enlighten you 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 firstname.lastname@example.org