Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Even if Filipinos get married abroad where divorce is legal, they cannot later on get a divorce that is recognized here in the Philippines

Summary: Filipinos who get married in countries where divorce is valid cannot obtain a divorce later on, because of Article 15 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. (The divorce may be valid in that country where they got married or where they got divorced. But the divorce will not be recognized here in the Philippines.)

Related discussions: “Divorce obtained abroad by a Filipino citizen against alien spouse recognized in the Philippines” and “The right of a divorced Filipino spouse to remarry under Article 26 of the Family Code

Last night, my sister brought home a tabloid; in it, a columnist discussed some people’s suspicions as to why Piolo Pascual reportedly wants to marry KC Concepcion abroad. The reason, according to these people, is that there is no divorce in the Philippines. They say that if Piolo and KC (or any Filipino, for that matter) get married in a place where divorce is legal, they will be able to get a divorce later on since Philippine law does not apply abroad.

This reasoning is wrong.

Getting married abroad where divorce is legal will not enable Filipinos to validly get a divorce later on. Why? Art. 15 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines is the reason. The article states:
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.
Simply stated, Philippine laws on marriage, obligations between husbands and wives, parental authority over children, etc. are obligatory (binding) upon Filipinos wherever in the world they may be.

(The divorce may be valid in that country where they got married or where they got divorced. But the divorce will not be recognized here in the Philippines.)

Principle of “lex loci celebrationis”

This Latin expression simply means “if a marriage is valid in the country where it is celebrated, it is valid here in the Philippines”. Art. 26, paragraph (1) of the Family Code of the Philippines states:
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.
For example, if a Filipino gets married (either to a fellow Filipino or to a foreigner) in a country where the marriage ceremony isn’t the same as in the Philippines, it is still considered valid here.

But the principle of “lex loci celebrationis” does not apply in situations where the Family Code has declared certain “marriages” as incestuous, bigamous, or void for reasons of morality or public policy. Thus, a marriage between Filipinos who are first cousins may be validly solemnized in some countries but such a marriage will not be recognized as valid here in the Philippines. Also, a marriage by a Filipino below 18 years of age may be valid in other countries but not here in the Philippines.

(Please take note that “lex loci celebrationis” applies to marriage, not divorce.)

Question: If a Filipino gets married abroad but the documents are not filed with the NSO through the Philippine embassy or consulate, is the marriage valid?

Answer: Yes, the marriage is valid for two reasons:

1. Lex loci celebrationis;

2. The marriage contract or certificate is not an essential or formal requisite of marriage under the Family Code.