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The Philippines Divorce & Family Law

International Divorce & Family Law: The Philippines

The Philippines is the only UN member country, apart from Vatican City, that does not currently permit divorce. The Family Code does include provisions for alternatives to divorce, including annulment. We act for Filipino citizens and those with a connection to the country who may be impacted by Filipino family law when they want to divorce. Below we set out some factors to consider if your divorce has some link to Filipino law.


Alternatives To Divorce In The Philippines

In the absence of Filipino divorce couples whose marriage has broken down have several options:

  • Legal separation – A spouse can have separation judicially recognised on numerous grounds or ‘qualifying events’. These include where the other spouse is sentenced to more than five years in prison, where there is evidence of domestic abuse or if there is desertion for at least one year. The spouse wanting separation must apply within five years of the qualifying event.
  • Annulment – Grounds for annulment are set out in Article 45 of the Civil Code. They include where one spouse was forced into the marriage or was mentally unsound at the time of the marriage
  • Voided marriage – This involves establishing that the marriage did not legally take place. An unrecognised official may have carried out the ceremony or the marriage may be bigamous or polygamous.

All of these grounds involve producing a large amount of evidence and can result in disproportionate legal expense. It’s estimated that some annulments and separations in the Philippines cost rough the average annual salary.


Recognition Of Foreign Divorce And The Philippines

The lack of divorce in the Philippines means recognition of foreign divorces is critical as are issues around children and finances following divorce.

Two Filipino citizens living abroad who obtain a foreign divorce cannot have this recognised in the Philippines. However as recently as 2018 the Filipino Supreme Court recognised foreign divorces obtained by Filipino citizens married to a foreigner. Before this there existed a rather anomalous situation: if a non-Filipino obtained a foreign divorce he or she could remarry while his or her Filipino spouse remained married.


Filipino Family Law: Financial Settlements And Children

There is a complex interplay between foreign family court orders in relation to finances and children and a Filipino family law system that does not permit divorce.

Essentially, a conflict may arise between whether individuals are bound by the decision of foreign courts in relation to finances and children or whether they can issue separate proceedings in the Philippines to decide these matters.

Brookman advises Filipino nationals and UK nationals and individuals who wish to obtain a UK divorce. We can also guide you on the enforceability of the terms of your divorce in the Philippines.

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