Thursday, December 20, 2007

Filipino divorced by spouse (who's formerly a Philippine citizen) can remarry under Article 26 of the Family Code

Free PDF newsletter right of a divorced Filipino to remarry(Please read my other discussions: “Divorce obtained abroad by a Filipino not recognized in the Philippines” and “Even if Filipinos get married abroad where divorce is legal, they cannot later on get a divorce that is recognized here in the Philippines”)

Issue:

Two Filipino citizens get validly married. One spouse later becomes a foreign citizen. This spouse then obtains a valid divorce decree. The divorce decree allows this spouse to remarry. Can the other spouse (who is still a Filipino citizen) likewise remarry under Philippine law?

Answer:

Yes, according to the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Cipriano Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, promulgated on October 5, 2005.
Ponente of the decision was Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing.

Article 26 of the Family Code provides:

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

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.
Does Article 26 apply only to a mixed marriage, that is, between a Filipino and a foreigner?

Orbecido's petition

Orbecido filed with the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur a petition for authority to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the RTC granted Orbecido's petition. (The facts of the case are in the latter part of this post.)

Objection by the Office of the Solicitor General

In its petition before the Supreme Court, the Office of the Solicitor General stated that Article 26 applies only to valid mixed marriage, that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an alien. The proper remedy in Orbecidos' situation, according to the OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for legal separation. Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that governs Orbecido’s situation. The OSG claims that this is a matter of legislation and not of judicial determination.

Supreme Court ruling: Article 26 allows a Filipino citizen -- divorced by a Filipino spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried -- to remarry

The Supreme Court rejected the OSG’s claim and in the dispositive (summing up) portion of its decision stated:
  • “We are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried, also to remarry.”

  • “The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.”
The Supreme Court’s views and reasoning are enumerated below (boldfacing supplied):

[1] Taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.

[2] If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26.

[3] In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows:
  • There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and
  • A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.
[4] The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.

In this case, when Cipriano’s wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was still a valid marriage that has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the “divorced” Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.

We are also unable to sustain the OSG’s theory that the proper remedy of the Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for legal separation. Annulment would be a long and tedious process, and in this particular case, not even feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to have all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would not be a sufficient remedy for it would not sever the marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse.

The facts of the Orbecido case

On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V. Orbecido.

In 1986, Cipriano’s wife left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer. A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an American citizen.

Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had obtained a divorce decree and then married a certain Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at 5566 A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California.

Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court granted the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.

In its petition before the Supreme Court, the OSG raised a pure question of law: Whether or not respondent can remarry under Article 26 of the Family Code.

As stated above, the Supreme Court rejected the OSG’s stand on Article 26. However, the Court also stated that:
The records are bereft of competent evidence duly submitted by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the naturalization of respondent’s wife. It is settled rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is not evidence.
Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his allegation that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our own courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. Such foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged and proved. Furthermore, respondent must also show that the divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry as specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into another marriage.
Note: This portion of the Court’s decision does ightnot contradict its ruling that a Filipino divorced by a former Filipino citizen can remarry under Article 26, 2nd paragraph. It simply states that Orbecido did not submit the proper evidence before the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur to prove his claims (that his wife became a naturalized US citizen and had later on gotten a divorce, etc). Orbecido could re-file the case, this time submitting the proper evidence, or ask for a re-opening of the proceedings before the RTC.

40 comments :

Anonymous said...

I am a divorced woman for four years now and was granted custody of our 12 year old daughter. I am currently in a relationship and have plans of getting married soon.
My partner and I have been living together for five years now. The divorce I obtained overseas is not valid here in the Philippines,what should I do to make my previous marriage null? Please advise,thank you.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

In a case where two people want to end their marriage, but have no grounds for annulment. does the case above means that obtaining citizenship from another country can allow a person (thru divorce) to be free of this marriage in the phils., and be allowed to re-marry again?

Please correct me if i'm wrong in my interpretation of the case. Thanks.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

The salient points of this decision by the Supreme Court are:

[1] Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a spouse (a Filipino who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried), also to remarry; and

[2] The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.

Please take note that in this case, only one of the parties acquired a foreign citizenship while the other party remained a Filipino. That former Filipino (now a naturalized citizen of another country) then filed for divorce against the Filipino spouse.

THe Supreme Court said that the divorced spouse (the Filipino citizen) can now remarry in the Philippines, because it would be against the spirit of the law and the intention of Congress if this divorced Filipino spouse is not allowed to remarry.

As to the former Filipino citizen who filed for the divorce, he or she can get married here in the Philippines, no longer as a Filipino but as a foreigner.

Please take note however that if it was the Filipino spouse who filed the divorce action against the former Filipino citizen, then that divorce will not be recognized here in the Philippines and that Filipino spouse cannot remarry here.

Angeline said...

I am divorced in Taiwan and had my divorce registered in the Phil.Economic Council in Taipei. If I wanted to get married again how should I get the license? Do I have to go to a Phil court to make this divorce valid or is it already valid?

Anonymous said...

I would like to marry my fiancee here in the US. I've been separated with my ex wife for nearly 9 years but was never annulled. I am planning on filing for divorce here in California. I am however not sure if I should declare that we have kids together on my divorce papers. My ex-wife has our kids and I no contact with them since we separated. If I declare no minor on my court papers, will I encounter any problem? Will the US government find out that I have kids? I know that it'll be much more complicated if I declare that I have kids. Thank you so much.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

1. As a Filipino citizen and since you are the one initiating the divorce, your divorce in California will not be recognized here in the Philippines.

2. In the Philippines, as well as in the US, there are laws on perjury or lying under oath. If you declare that you do not have kids when you actually have them, that is lying under oath.

Anonymous said...

I'm a American citizen and was married to an American citizen also. We got married in California back in 2001. We then renewed our married in Manila in 2005 because our parents wanted a church wedding, but we never applied for a license since we use the same license from our marriage in California. We are now divorce and my ex wife has custody of out kids. I'm moving back to the Philippines and will apply for dual citizenship. I was just wondering if I can remarry again in the future in Manila

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

1. You are an American citizen and your law allows divorce, unlike here in the Philippines which does not recognize divorce.

2. What kind of a church wedding did you have here in the Philippines? Sine you were already married in the US under American law, any marriage here in the Philippines would really be a mere reenactment (at best) or a sham (at worse). Under the Family Code, foreigners who want to get married here in the Philippines are supposed to obtain a Certificate of Legal Capacity from their consulate or embassy. That California license has no legal effect here in the Philippines.

Did you check with the National Statistics Office (NSO) if ever a marriage certificate was ever filed with it with your names on it? You can check with the NSO through its online services; try to get a CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage). If there is no marriage confiscate with your names on its file, the NSO will issue the CENOMAR. If there is a marriage certificate with your names on the NSO files, it does not really matter since you are American citizens but it will create a potential mess should you get married again.

3. Are you a Filipino citizen who later on acquired American citizenship? Or are you a natural-born American citizen?

The Philippines dual citizenship law is Republic Act No. 9225 "Citizenship Retention and RE-acquisition Act of 2003.” It does not apply to American citizens who want to acquire Filipino citizenship. Section 3 of the law states:

Retention of Philippine Citizenship - Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic …”

If you are a natural-born American citizen, and you wish to acquire Filipino citizenship, you would have to give up your American citizenship and go through the naturalization process.

But as an American citizen, you can get married here in the Philippines. You will be asked to present to the Local Civil Registrar a Certificate of Legal Capacity from the US embassy here in the Philippines.

If you are a Filipino citizen who later on became an American citizen, then you can avail of RA 9225. As to whether you can get married again, that is a gray area. RA 9225 is a relatively new law and there are problem areas. For example, can a person who holds dual citizenship file for divorce as a foreign citizen when the Family Code prohibits or does not recognize divorce?

The issue here is, can a person who holds dual citizenship under RA 9225 invoke American citizenship when it is convenient or pragmatic for him or her? Or can this person invoke Filipino citizenship when it is more convenient or pragmatic? Please take note that Section 5 of RA 9225 states that holders of dual citizenship shall be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines.

If your marriage and divorce took place when you were already an American citizen, then your case will not be on all fours as in the Orbecido case decided by the Supreme Court as I discussed in this post. That will mean that as an American citizen, you will be able to get married here or anywhere else for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response. I was a Filipino citizen with green card when I got married and became a US Citizen thereafter. When I got married in PI I didn't obtain a Certificate of Legal Capacity from the consulate or embassy. It was actually my uncle who performed the ceremony since he is a priest. I will search NSO if our name was ever recorded. I have the Wedding certificate from the church and its listed as American Citizens for my xwife and I. Also stated that I was married in California

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

In the Orbecido case I discussed above, the situation was that the spouses were married when they were Filipino citizens. Later on, one of the parties became a US citizen and then filed for divorce. The other party (still a Filipino citizen) then wanted to get married here in the Philippines. When the case reached the Supreme Court, it ruled that this “divorced Filipino” had the right to remarry under Article 26 of the Family Code.

Correct me if I am wrong but you got your divorce when you and your wife were already US citizens. This makes your situation different from the Orbecido case. If you can get a Certificate of Legal Capacity from the US embassy here when you plan to get married again, that would seem to indicate that you are legally capacitated to get married again (as an American citizen, that is).

HOWEVER, I am aware of some instances when the US embassy denied petitions for immigration when the facts of the previous marriage and divorce became known (that is if you are planning later on to bring your future wife to the US). As I said, if you are planning to take advantage of the dual citizenship law, there are undecided legal issues involved.

Anonymous said...

We were both Filipino when we acquired our marriage license here at a local city hall in Japan. I was a permanent resident here at the time of marriage. I later became a naturalized Japanese citizen but our marriage didn't last long and we eventually filed for divorce here. Will the Philippine law recognize our divorce?

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

1. You obtained your divorce when you were already a Japanese citizen. If and when you get married again here in the Philippines, you will be required by the Local Civil Registrar to submit a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage from the Japanese embassy or consulate before a marriage license is issued.

2. I will assume that your ex-spouse is still a Filipino citizen. If you were the one who initiated the filing of the divorce action, then your ex-spouse will have the right to remarry under Philippine law. However, your ex-spouse must first file a petition in court here in the Philippines for the recognition of the divorce decree.

If your ex-spouse was the one who initiated the filing of the divorce action, then the divorce is not recognized here in the Philippines. Your ex-spouse cannot therefore remarry. (You, on the other hand, can remarry since, as a Japanese citizen, you are no longer covered by the Family Code).

Anonymous said...

i just acquired a divorce decree here in the UK and been a naturalised citizen of this country,I have read some here that in order for the filipino spouse to remarry he has to apply a petition for our decree to be recognised,my question is can I apply for this petition to the court myself or do I have to wait for him to apply?And if so where do we start?

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

1. Please clarify: When you got your divorce, were you already a UK citizen? If yes, then you are no longer bound by the Family Code of the Philippines.

2. Is your husband still a Filipino citizen? If yes, then if your husband wants to remarry, under Philippine law, he must file a petition in court here in the Philippines for the recognition of the foreign decree of divorce. Since you are already a UK citizen, you do not have to be involved in this process anymore.

(I am assuming that you, as a UK citizen, were the one who initiated the divorce action. If it was your Filipino husband who initiated the divorce action, then the divorce will not be recognized here in the Philippines.)

Anonymous said...

thank you for your response,I am indeed the one who filed the divorce and that time am already a UK citizen, my only concern is our records in NSO,if he did not file the divorce decree then I am still married by records,is that right or not?sorry am so confused, that's why I wanted to file it myself as I can already foresee that he will not do it. if ever what are the procedures to follow,and documents needed?Do I need a lawyer?Please fill me in.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

1. You are correct that if your spouse did not file a petition in court for the recognition of the foreign divorce decree, then the records at the NSO will show that you and your spouse are still married.

2. Since you are already a UK citizen, then the Family Code no longer applies to you. If you want to get married again here in the Philippines, then what you need (for the Local Civil Registrar to issue a marriage license) is for the British embassy here to issue a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage. The problem however is that there will now be two marriage certificates in your name in the NSO files.
As a UK citizen, you do not need to file a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree. What you can file is a petition in court requiring the NSO to annotate on its records that your marriage has already been terminated.

However, before taking any court action, you can try to clarify matters with the NSO itself through its legal department. The NSO website is www.census.gov.ph (you can also ask the lawyer who handled your divorce to write the NSO attaching to the letter a true copy of the divorce decree).

Please take note that all these are necessary only if you want to get married again here in the Philippines. Like I said, as a UK citizen, you are no loger bound by the Family Code.

Anonymous said...

I am an american who married an older filipina 12 years ago(its a shot gun wedding because my business was astake). We had been seperated for a year and I am planning to file a divorce when I go back to the states next year. My question is she had been threating on having me and my new gf thrown out of prison if i dont leave my new gf and go back with her. She is also Threatening of killing both of us. I want to know about the law on Infidelity againts a foreigner husband. Hope you can help. Thanks in advance!

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Please read my article titled “Adultery, concubinage and psychological violence” also in this blog. Look for the link in the sidebar. The laws I mentioned apply to anyone regardless of citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Im currently legally married with a Filipina. Living in Americas as a green card holder and soon will file my citizenship.We got married Nov 2003 and she left for Icland Jan 2004. We finally call it quits when we had bitter arguement before her vacation May 2004. My questions is, if i become Naturalized US citizenship and filled divorced after my citizenship. DO I NEED TO FILE FOR ANNULMENT? How will i file my Divorce paper to Philippines so i can remarry again or do i still need to file my divorce paper or not? I read in one of the issue that all we need is for Divorce lawyer to send copy of divorce paper to NSO and ask US Embassy for a copy or certain paper that would issue of my right to remarry again in philippines now as an American citizen.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Let us discuss the issues one by one.

1. A divorce obtained by Filipino citizens abroad will NOT be recognized here in the Philippines.

2. Some Filipinos think that if they get married in a country which allows divorce (Singapore for example), then they will be allowed to divorce their spouses. This is not true because of Article 15 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. (Please search this blog for my posts on Article 15.)

3. What if an American gets married here in the Philippines to a Filipino citizen? Does it mean that he or she cannot divorce the Filipino spouse since divorce is not allowed here in the Philippines? That American (or any foreigner for that matter) can file for divorce in his or her country (or any other place in the world) since his national law allows divorce for him or her.

4. A Filipino citizen married to a foreigner : If the divorce is filed by the foreigner against the Filipino citizen and such a divorce allows the foreigner to remarry, then the divorce will be recognized here in the Philippines under Article 26 FC. What the Filipino should do is to file a petition on court here not for annulment but for the recognition of the foreign divorce decree.

Once the court grants the petition, it will order the NSO to make the proper annotation on the marriage certificate concerned.

If the divorce is filed by the Filipino citizen against the foreigner, then the divorce will not be recognized here in the Philippines. This is true even if for example the ground for the divorce was spousal violence by the foreigner against the Filipino citizen. This may sound harsh and unjustified BUT the problem really is that these Filipinos got married to foreigners without knowing what Philippine law (especially Article 15 of the New Civil Code) provides.

5. What about a divorce for example in Singapore or Korea or Taiwan or Japan? I am told that in these countries, all the foreigner and the Filipino spouse have to do is go to the City hall, file the divorce papers and then get the divorce decree within the same day. I have not read a specific Supreme Court ruling on this situation, but my reading of Article 26 of the Family Code is that such a ”consensual” or “mutually-agreed upon divorce” will not be recognized here. The idea behind Article 26 is that the Filipino citizen is the aggrieved party, that is, the divorce action was filed against him or her by the foreigner-spouse. In a ”consensual” or “mutually-agreed upon divorce”, it cannot be said that the Filipino was the aggrieved party.

6. What about if a Filipino becomes a naturalized citizen of another country and wants to remarry here in the Philippines? Since he or she is no longer a Filipino, the Family Code no longer applies to him or her. What should he or she do considering that the marriage certificate of his previous marriage is still on file with the NSO? My personal view is that once the former Filipino citizen is issued a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage by his embassy or consulate under Article 21 of the FC, then he or she can remarry here in the Philippines without fear of possible legal consequences. If ever a case of bigamy is filed, the defense can be raised that a divorce had already been granted to the naturalized citizen and that the second marriage was entered into not by a Filipino but by a citizen of another country.

The possible mess will be of two marriage certificates then being on file with the NSO. Can the naturalized citizen just send to the NSO a copy of the divorce decree? Possibly, but the NSO generally requires a court order for it to do anything like annotating the records on its files. Solution? Any party in this kind of situation can, before getting married, ask for the opinion of the NSO or the DOJ just to avoid potential problems later on. As far as I know, the NSO does not have internal rules or guidelines on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I am naturalized British citizen and I would like to divorce my wife, we get married in the Philippines while we still Filipino citizen, can you tell me what to do. Am I allowed to get divorced and re married again.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

As naturalized British citizens, you and your wife are no longer covered by the Family Code. Thus, you can avail of British divorce laws.

Please read my Salt and Light blog article on “Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage” at http://-salt-and-light-.blogspot.com/2005/12/divorce-and-remarriage_26.html

Anonymous said...

I am a Filipino citizen and my Bf is now an american citizen..But before we are committed he is married to a filipino citizen and they get married here in the Philippines after he got his citizenship in the US he filed a divorced to her ex-wife because his wife here in the Philippines found another man, which his ex-wife and the man are now in staying in one house and they already have a daughter.
Now he is already divorced in his country to his wife her in the phil., now we are planning to get married we he come home here or in hongkong on june 2009,..are we commiting grounds?..or can the ex-wife have the right to file a case for me for the bigamy? because we get married and their marriage is not yet annulled..can we get marry here in the philippines?

Pls.help me..thank you so much in advance..

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Your boyfriend is no longer a Filipino citizen. He can therefore as a foreign citizen (1) obtain a divorce against his Filipino spouse); and (2) after obtaining his divorce, get married again. Since he is no longer a Filipino citizen, there is no need to file for a petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage. The problem however is if you get married here in the Philippines, the NSO records will now have on its files two marriage certificates (the first with his Filipino wife, and the second with you). Since foreigners are required under the Family Code to obtain a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage, the second marriage certificate will indicate that he is no longer a Filipino but an American citizen.

Please consult other lawyers who may have opinions different from mine.

Please also read my Salt and Light blog posts titled “Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage” at http://-salt-and-light-.blogspot.com/2005/12/divorce-and-remarriage_26.html . Please take note that second marriages have a higher percentage of failures than first marriages. Meaning, the probability that your marriage (the second for your boyfriend) will end in divorce is greater than the probability for a first time marriage.

Anonymous said...

My husband is a lebanese and we got married in the Philippines. Lebanese has no civil marriage unless obtained abroad and then it is recognized. In case of dispute, the civil court in Lebanon is competent to handle the divorce according to the court rule where the marriage took place. My husband is filing an appeal in Lebanon to handle our divorce using the Phil Family Code Article 26 & 55. Is it possible to obtain a divorce using these article mentioned? Can I transfer the case to Phils. where I will be well represented as I can't afford the expenses in Lebanon? Thank you.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Article 55 is not for divorce but for legal separation. In legal separation, the marriage ties remain (meaning, despite the grant of a decree of legal separation by the court, the man and woman will still remain married).

Article 26 refers to the right of a Filipino citizen to remarry upon being divorced by a foreign citizen. As to whether it can be used as a basis for divorce in Lebanon (or in other countries which do not have civil marriages), that issue has not been brought up to the Supreme Court.

You should consult either the Philippine embassy or consulate in Lebanon, OR a Lebanese lawyer for the answer to your questions.

Anonymous said...

I am a Philippine citizen previously married to a US citizen, marriage held in the Phils. In 2004, my US spouse filed a successful divorce against me in Guam USA - which has been authenticated by the Phil. Embassy there. The Phil. Embassy in Guam informed me that I was free to remarry since the alien spouse filed the divorce. In 2006, I remarried to an EU citizen in Hongkong which was not a problem since they recognized my US divorce docs. At present we live in EU, all docs are recognized and authenticated with Apostilles. However upon reading your blog, I was not aware that I needed to have the US divorce recognized in the Phils. Should I have done this process before remarrying? Am I going to be charged for bigamy in the Philippines? Please advise.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

What the Philippine embassy in Guam told you is only partially true. Since the divorce was filed against you by your foreigner-spouse, then you are allowed to remarry under Article 26 of the Family Code. HOWEVER, what the Philippine embassy in Guam did not know is that for purposes of remarriage, you should have filed a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree BEFORE you married your present husband.

You mentioned that the embassy in Guam received your divorce papers. This is merely a ministerial function or duty on the part of the embassy. Meaning, the embassy does not have judicial powers; when it received your divorce papers, that is not a governmental recognition of the validity of your divorce or that you could then remarry.

The Philippine government and the courts are not bound by the decisions of foreign courts. This is why a petition for recognition of a foreign divorce decree is required.

As far as the Philippine government and the courts are concerned therefore, you are still married to your American husband. If you apply for a copy of your marriage certificate with the NSO (National Statistics Office), you will discover that the certificate will not have any annotation on it about your divorce decree.

Your marriage to the EU citizen is therefore bigamous since you got married again without first having filed a petition for recognition of your foreign divorce decree.
As to being charged with bigamy, this is a problem for Philippine legal authorities. We have a system of criminal justice which follows the rule “venue is jurisdictional.” This means that the crime must be prosecuted in the place where it took place. If the crime took place in Manila, it must not be filed in Quezon City, for example. Since your marriage to the EU citizen took place in Hong Kong, the problem is where in the Philippines should the crime of bigamy be filed?

Anonymous said...

i am a filipina, and i was married in 2003 to a US citizen in the Philippines. we currently reside in the US, and I have become naturalized as a US citizen. Can I divorce my husband here in the US, and be allowed to re-marry here in the US? Is this recognized by the Philippines? I travel to visit my family there, and I don't want to be breaking a law there by re-marrying if they don't recognize the divorce. thank you for your advice

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Please read this post again. As the Supreme Court ruled in the Orbecido case, a Filipino who becomes a naturalized citizen of another country is no longer bound by the Family Code. Based on the laws of that country where the former Filipino has become a citizen of, he/she can remarry again after the divorce has become final and executory.

Simply stated, you are no longer a Filipino citizen; you are bound by US laws and not Philippine laws.

Please consult other lawyers who may have opinions different from mine or who may be able to suggest alternative courses of actions.

Please also read my Salt and Light blog post “Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage” at http://-salt-and-light-.blogspot.com/2005/12/divorce-and-remarriage_26.html

Anonymous said...

I am a filipina married to a foreign national and we have 4 yrs old son. He wants me to file for annulment here in philippines but I told him he could file for divorce there in the US. My concern is if ever the divorce will be granted and I have a copy of that divorce decree and I need to file a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree. How long does it take before it recognize and how much would it cost me? And also, we have 4 yrs old son. I wonder if I could still get a financial support from his father after that. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i got married in the philippines 12 years ago, i am now a naturalized british citizen, i also have aquired back my filipino citizenship. if i got my divorce here in the uk, will my dual citizenship affect the recognition of my divorce by the philippine law thank you.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Did you obtain your divorce when you were already a UK citizen? If yes, you were no longer bound by the Family Code of the Philippines. To get married in the Philippines, all you need is to get a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage from the UK embassy (no need to file for recognition of divorce decree here).

But if you got your divorce while you were still a Filipino citizen, then later on you became a UK citizen and then you got dual citizenship, this presents a difficult problem. There are a lot of gray matters and unresolved issues involving our Dual Citizenship law which need to be cleared up by amendatory laws by Congress or by rulings of the Supreme Court.

Please consult other lawyers who may have opinions different from mine or who may be able to suggest alternative courses of actions.

Anonymous said...

i am a filipino citizen and previously married to a japanese citizen the marriage took in the philippines last 2004 and the marriage was recogineze here in japan.. we got divorced last sept.of 2009 here in japan city hall... i have Us military boyfriend stationed here in japan now and we are planning to get married.. am i allowed to remarry again in the philippines or ouside the philippines? will US government recognize my divorce here in japan in order to marry a us citezen? what else will i need to do to marry a US military?

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

I already answered your e-mail.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Filipino married here in the Philippines year 2003 with a us citizen then one week after getting married i never saw my husband then a year after he i received a divorce decree then year 2008 the papers have been sealed by the State of Nevada and Now i met someone that is US citizen and he want to marry me am i allowed to remarry again?

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

I have not seen the divorce decree you are referring to and so my answer will be in general terms. You need to file a petition for recognition of that Nevada divorce decree with a Philippine court. If the court recognizes your divorce decree, then that is the only time you can remarry.

Anonymous said...

Looking for guidance
We were both Filipino citizen when we got married but later on divorced after acquiring our US citizenships. In order for me to marry someone from the Philippines, do i need to file:

A)a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree in the Philippines?

I also hold a Permanent Resident status in the Philippines, does this status make any difference relative to question A ?

Thank you for your guidance and i'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

You and your spouse were already US citizens when you obtained your divorce. In order to remarry here in the Philippines, all you need is to secure a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract marriage. The US embassy here, in agreement with the Philippine government, issues instead of a CLC an equivalent certification.

The practical problem is that once you get married again, you will have two marriage certificates on file with the NSO. You need to clarify with the Legal Department of the NSO as to how this potential problem can be avoided.

As to your question about your residency status here and remarriage, residency is different from citizenship.

You should clarify with the US embassy these matters.