Setting aside a legal separation decree

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
We have a daughter who was previously married to her husband for more than a decade. Because of a marital dispute, and much to our dismay, she filed a petition for legal separation against her husband. The petition was granted by the court. While we know that she has her freedom to decide on the direction of her life, we were disappointed with how things turned out in her marital life. So before my wife died, we were able to have a heart-to-heart talk with our daughter about her life, including her failed marriage. It appears that it was because of this talk that my daughter now considers reconciling with her husband, who is also open to give their relationship one more chance. But she is unsure of legal implications of their intention to reconcile since the court already approved their legal separation. Can you please advise us on how my daughter can formally reconcile with her husband and what are the effects of this?.
Don Abdon

Dear Don Abdon,
Despite having a court decree formalizing your daughter’s legal separation from her husband, she may still legally reconcile with him and live together again as husband and wife. The Family Code of the Philippines provides that should a married couple who previously obtained a decree of legal separation decide to reconcile, they may do so by formalizing their intention to reunite and live as a couple again by filing to the court a joint manifestation officially expressing 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.”

In this joint manifestation of the couple, it is important that both parties sign this legal document to signify and formalize their mutual intention and consent to legally live together again as husband and wife. Thereafter, upon order of the court, the filing of this manifestation shall have the following legal effects:


“(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, Id.)

It can be seen from the above-cited provisions that the law recognizes and allows legally separated couples, like your daughter and her husband, to reconcile and legally live again as a married couple. You may therefore advise your daughter to prepare the joint manifestation together with her husband and file it before the court to legalize their reconciliation 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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