I was a dual citizen (Filipino and American) in 2010 when I married a woman in Isabela. Such marriage did not last long, so I returned to California, USA. I obtained a divorce decree in California on December 3, 2012. I returned to the Philippines in 2013 and renounced my American citizenship. I also took an oath to support and defend the Philippine Constitution.
At present, I have a girlfriend whom I would like to marry. Somebody told me that before I can marry her, I should first file a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce or annulment of marriage. Please guide me on what legal remedy to follow.
The proper remedy in your case is to file a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and not annulment.
In Corpuz vs Sto. Tomas (G.R. No. 186571, August 11, 2010), the Supreme Court discussed the legal remedy and requirements needed for judicial recognition of foreign divorce:
“To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national law.
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country. This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens 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.
In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office”.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org