Is a divorce obtained by a Filipino valid here? We were married in 2003 in Hong Kong and had it registered here in the Philippines. My wife had an opportunity to work in Canada, so we were unable to have our church wedding. Five years later, I received some papers from my wife, indicating there that she was divorcing me. Sometime thereafter, I received a notice that we were already divorced in Canada. To my knowledge, she is still a Filipino. I have no intention of going after her. In fact, I want to remarry. However, when we were applying for a marriage license, we were declined, because according to them, I was still married. Please advise. Thank you.
It appears in your letter that your wife obtained a divorce decree in Canada while she was still a Filipino, this is not considered by our laws as a proper means of dissolving a marriage.
The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code states: “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 likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”
This is only applicable when a foreigner who is married to a Filipino citizen obtains a divorce from his Filipino spouse. There is nothing in our law, which provides that a Filipino citizen may validly obtain a divorce decree abroad from his or her Filipino spouse.
Article 15 of the Civil Code provides: “Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.”
Therefore, in order for your marriage to be validly dissolved, you must either have your marriage declared null and void or annulled by our courts in accordance with our Family Code.
Your marriage cannot be dissolved through a divorce, since there is no divorce law in the Philippines. However, if your spouse already obtained foreign citizenship at the time of the divorce, then Article 26 of the said law is applicable; hence, you may now remarry.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org