• Only voidable marriages can be annulled

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    Dear PAO,
    My husband and I are already separated. I am now in a relationship with someone who is already divorced from his wife. How can I nullify my marriage to my husband? Secondly, can my American boyfriend have their marriage certificate in the Philippines cancelled since they are already divorced in the States?
    MC

    Dear MC,
    Under Philippine laws, the validity of marriage may only be terminated through the filing of a petition for annulment or a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage before the courts. However, a marriage may not be terminated solely on the will of the parties. It may only be done if any of the grounds provided under the law is present.

    Only voidable marriages or those marriages which are valid until the same are set aside by courts may be annulled. The grounds for annulment of marriage are the following: lack of parental consent, unsoundness of the mind, marriage through fraud, force, intimidation or undue influence, physical incapacity of either party to consummate the marriage, and affliction of sexually transmissible disease found to be serious and incurable (Article 45, Family Code of the Philippines). On the other hand, a petition for declaration of nullity should be filed in case of void marriages. The grounds for declaration of nullity of marriage are the following: lack of capacity of either or both of the parties, lack of authority of solemnizing officer, lack of marriage license, bigamous or polygamous marriage, contracted through mistake of one on the identity of the other, void marriage under Article 53 of the Family Code (Article 35, id.), psychological incapacity of either or both parties (Article 36, id.), incestuous marriages (Article 37, id.), and void marriages by reason of public policy (Article 38). Hence, your marriage may be terminated only if any of the aforementioned grounds is present.

    As to your second question, the marriage certificate in the Philippines of your American boyfriend may be cancelled since he has already obtained a divorce decree in the US. However, before this may be done, a petition must first be filed before our courts for the recognition of their foreign judgment of divorce. In such petition, your boyfriend should prove his divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. Such law must also be proved as our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws (Republic vs. Orbecido, GR No. 154380, October 05, 2005). Once the court has recognized it, his marriage certificate here shall contain an annotation that their marriage is terminated by virtue of the divorce decree obtained abroad.

    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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