Only courts can issue decree of legal separation

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear Pao,
I am a businessman from Hong Kong, and temporarily residing in Taguig City. I have a helper who has been separated from his wife. I learned that his wife now lives with a new family of her own in Cebu, including three children. I would like to help my helper obtain a loan from a certain bank, but the latter required him to present a document that he is legally separated from his wife.

Please help me find a lawyer who can help us prepare a separation agreement, so that my helper can comply with the requirements set by the bank for a housing loan. I will appreciate if you can help me regarding this matter.
Mr. Chong

Dear Mr. Chong,
Your helper must file a petition in court for legal separation based on the grounds provided under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines. The petition for legal separation must be filed within five years from the time of the occurrence of the cause (Article 57, Ibid.). Sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment of petitioner without justifiable cause for more than one year may be invoked by your helper as a ground for legal separation. If the court grants the petition, a decree of legal separation will be issued, which he can present to the bank as a requirement for a housing loan.

Any agreement that is executed between your helper and his wife that they are separated from each other is void. It is only the courts of appropriate jurisdiction which can issue a decree of legal separation. Also, under Article 2035 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, it is provided:

“Art. 2035. No compromise upon the following questions shall be valid:

(1) The civil status of persons;

2) The validity of a marriage or a legal separation;

3) Any ground for legal separation;

4) Future support;

5) The jurisdiction of courts;

6) Future legitime” (Emphasis supplied).

In relation to the provision mentioned in the immediately preceding sentence is Article 5 of the same Code, which explicitly provides that: “Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity.”

We hope that we were able to answer your concern. 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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