My husband and I have been separated for 11 years now. He is living with another woman. I want to dissolve our marriage bond and use my maiden name again. I hope you can help me.
Under the Family Code of the Philippines, marriages contracted between two Filipinos may only be nullified by filing a petition for annulment or a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage before the court. A marriage may only be terminated, however, if any of the grounds provided by law for the annulment or the declaration of nullity of marriage is present.
Only voidable marriages or marriages that are valid until it is set aside by the courts may be subject of petitions for annulment. Grounds for annulment of marriage as provided in Article 45 of the code are: (1) lack of parental consent on the part of the party who is between the ages of 18 and 21 at the time of the marriage; (2) unsoundness of the mind of either party; (3) consent of either party was obtained by fraud; (4) consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence; (5) physical incapacity of either party to consummate the marriage; and (6) affliction of either party of sexually transmissible disease found to be serious and incurable.
On the other hand, grounds for petition for declaration of nullity of marriage are: (1) lack of capacity of either or both parties; (2) lack of authority of solemnizing officer; (3) lack of marriage license; (4) bigamous or polygamous marriage; (5) marriages contracted through mistake of one on the identity of the other; (6) void marriage under Article 53 of the Family Code (Article 35, Ibid.); (7) psychological incapacity of either or both parties (Article 36, Id.); (8) incestuous marriages (Article 37, Id.); and, (9) void marriages by reason of public policy. (Article 38, Id.)
If any of the aforementioned grounds is present, you may file your petition for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage, as the case may be, before the family court of the place where you or your husband has been residing for at least six (6) months prior to the date of filing of the petition, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at your election. Once your petition is favorably granted by the court, your marriage will be terminated and you will be allowed to revert to your maiden name.
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