Petition to recognize foreign divorce decree

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dearpao
Dear PAO,
I am a Filipino and I am married to an American for almost four years now. We had our civil

He went back to the United States after we got married and that was when things started to fall apart. He told me that he will file for divorce in the United States and will just send me a copy of the court’s decision. Does this mean that I can marry again, or do I still have to file a petition in court? Can my husband remarry in the Philippines? Will he need to file a petition too?
Zel

Dear Zel,
You may be able to marry again after your husband validly obtains a divorce decree in the United States of America which capacitates him to enter into a new marriage. This is in consonance with the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, as amended by Executive Order 227, which states that: “x x x Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”

However, we would like to emphasize that it is essential for you to file first a petition before our courts for the recognition of such decree of divorce before you may legally enter into a subsequent marriage. Even if we do not have divorce here in the Philippines, foreign judgments, such as a divorce decree validly obtained abroad, may still be acknowledged as binding in the Philippines, provided that our courts have passed upon the authenticity of such foreign judgment as well as the national law of the foreigner who sought for its issuance. This is in consonance with the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Corpuz vs. Tirol Sto. Tomas (G.R. No. 186571, August 11, 2010): “x x x This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the alien’s applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. x x x”

Insofar as your husband is concerned, he may not file a petition for recognition of the said divorce decree on the basis of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines. The benefit granted by this provision is only applicable to the Filipino spouse.


The alien spouse can claim no right therefrom (Corpuz vs. Tirol Sto. Tomas). But this does not mean that he may no longer enter into a contract of marriage in the Philippines after validly obtaining a divorce decree in the United States. He may still marry in the Philippines, provided that he institutes a petition for judicial recognition of the divorce decree, specifically for the purpose, and a competent Philippine court grants the same.

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.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosata may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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