Divorcing in the Philippines

Hello everyone,

Reaching the decision to seek divorce can be hard. Filing the papers as an expat in the Philippines can be as taxing since a good grasp of legislations is needed and the process can prove to be tedious.

Where and how do you apply for a divorce in the Philippines? How long does it take for the process to be completed?

If the couple has children, which measures can be taken in order to protect their interests?

Which procedures should be completed so that the divorce is legally recognized in the country of origin?

How is divorce viewed in the Philippines?

Being away from one's home country and loved ones, what advice do have for staying strong emotionally and mentally in this situation?

Thanks for sharing your experience.


Currently divorce is not an option in the Philippines.  Marriages that took place in the Philippines between two Philippine citizens must be annulled or declared void.  A very tedious, long and expensive process that can sometimes take a couple of years, give or take, to process.

For the expat married to Filipinos, no problem even if the wedding was in the PH. You just file the divorce in your home country, then ur ex wife will give the divorce paper to the local judge who will aknowledge the divorce abroad. The problem is only between Filipinos.

Supreme Court says foreign divorce valid in PH
Posted at Apr 24 2018 04:16 PM | Updated as of Apr 24 2018 05:44 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Filipinos divorced in other countries are allowed to remarry under Philippine law, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.
Voting 10-3, magistrates of the high court ruled that a divorce obtained by a Filipino citizen against a foreign spouse overseas is valid in the Philippines.
In the case of Marelyn Tanedo Manalo, the court noted Article 26 (2) of the Family Code which provides that "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 the capacity to remarry under Philippine law."

Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said prior to Tuesday's ruling, a divorce abroad is only considered valid here in the Philippines when it is initiated by the foreign spouse.
Magistrates who dissented were Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza refrained from voting due to his previous participation in the case as Solicitor General, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is still on leave, Te said.
In the case at hand, a lower court had ruled that the above-stated provision of the Family Code did not apply in the case because it was the Filipino spouse that initiated the divorce.
But the Court of Appeals overturned the decision, holding that Article 26 of the Family Code applies even if it was the Filipino spouse who filed for divorce against the foreign spouse because the decree obtained makes the foreigner no longer married to the Filipino, enabling the foreigner to remarry.

The appellate court held that it would be unjust to consider the Filipino still married to the foreigner who is no longer considered married to the Filipino.
The Supreme Court sustained the appellate court's ruling.
The Philippines and the Vatican remain as the only states in the world where divorce is outlawed. Annulments are legal in the Philippines, but the process is costly and could take years.

More like 3-5 years. My GF's annulment almost to the 4th year now, even with a good attorney. Besides all the paperwork and the original court petition, an annulment requires 3-4 witness appearances in court  (Petitioner, Respondent, a 3rd party witness to the marriage, and psychologist).  A lot depends on the court, and how busy they are, as well as the attorney and his preparation. In our case it turned out that the court is busy and the judge is not there every day, so the entire process has been slow.  There have also been multiple court cancellations which can occur for any reason (full docket that day, judge is out, criminal day, holiday, etc). Each court cancellation results in a 6 month delay. It is fortunate that I am not in a hurry, lol.

The lack of divorce as a viable option in the Philippines creates many unfortunate consequences. Of course it doesn't do anything to keep people together since a relationship that has run it's course is over anyway. But without a viable option for divorce, the couple separates and they move on, while still legally married. This creates subsequent relationships that are illegal, children who are illegitimate, child support issues, and all kinds of risks and pitfalls for foreigners.

Many Filipinas are actually legally married, but they might not inform you of this at first, for several reasons. The ex may still be lurking in the background (which can be very dangerous from both a physical and legal standpoint), or they know that a foreigner will probably not proceed if he knows an annulment will be required. I encourage everyone to make sure you know the status of the woman you are getting involved with. One way to check is to ask to see their CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage), available from any local NSO office, however it is relatively easy to have these faked.

There is an option that is usually faster if it fits the situation, it is called "Presumptive Death" and it is part of the Philippines Family Law legislation.

pnwcyclist, good info and glad we will never (never say never) go through the hoops as you have done, a very sad state of affairs brought on by guess who, the wealthiest institution on this our planet. We have enough trouble dealing with globe at home (internet) because they won't allow automatic debit/account and every month have to scratch stupid bingo cards to fire up the internet again. I consider many things here archaic by western standards, yes we are/were/perhaps still lucky with our individual places of birth, sadly there is a regime/conglomerate here that rules the roost though slowly changing. Painful for them but manipulate they will do as always to their advantage and the gullible hoards that follow not looking back on history nor doctrines, move on blindly and then some.
Slowly slowly.

Cheers, Steve.

Some jurisdictions, e.g. California, require your residency in the state and county for some time prior to filing the initial petition. I'm a divorce lawyer in the L.A. area.

Yes in Oklahoma you must be a resident for 6 months to file , maybe a less expensive option is the Guam connection their are lawyers that handle divorce from Filipina  you start the process in the philippines than when everything is ready you fly to Guam you must be there 7 days at the end your divorce is final the fee use to be $1500 I imagine higher now

Annulment is a very long complicated process and even your own attorney will try to stitch you up to make more money, like inventing extra formal hearings that only he needs to attend. I had a friend who went through the whole process and it was only right at the end of the process they found out that the ex husband was already married when they got hitched so the marriage was bigamous. You would think that in that case the marriage would be declared null and void, but no, it took another 2 years and many more hearings just to sort it out.

The sad truth is the Philippine laws are a century behind reality and will be changed by the will of the people.

It is unfortunate when the reasons for marriage nolonger hold two people together. The only thing worse is not accepting the marriage has died and letting it go.
True victums are the children from the broken marriage and those that come after by the now seperately living adults. It is the duty of all governments to care for their people not condemn them to a choice of loneliness or illegal acts.
I am incouraged that there are movements that are looking at the current laws with a desire to make this issue less cruel.

Well in the states you don't have to be legally married to have what is called a common law marriage. Cohabitation among other things determine if it's common law. The spouse has rights in the courts.

Now since the catholic religion has such a strangle hold on religion, many many marriages are common law, which has no legality in the Philippines. So a nation of bastard children. Many siblings having different fathers or mothers.

It's strange, a nation of religious people forced to live in sin or is a nation of hypocrites who hide behind religion who are good catholics?

With many unrecorded marriages from overseas living in the Philippines, a marriage certificate is worthless. Forget about it as it never happened. It is really a big mess which benefits no one.

Muslims have different privileges here in Philippines when it come to divorce and many Filipinos are taking this route to become divorced. I wouldn't recommend it for a foreigner but many Filipinos are doing this to save money and speed things up. I spoke once with a Filipino high court judge who told me all about, you go to the mosque and see the local Imam, tell him you want to become a Muslim and get divorced, money changes hands, the divorce is granted and you can become catholic again te day after the divorce is final hahaha

The following webpage address has very good information about how to get your foreign divorce recognized in the Philippines.  The information is comprehensive and well written.  You can even ask general questions if you have any.  Anyway there is a lot of good information there for all the read,.   https://lawyerphilippines.org/2017/04/1 … s-process/

It is of value to undertand the Philippino mind set on marriage by knowing they were colonized by the Roman Chatholic country of Spain in the sixteenth century. So deep ingrained into the country is that religion there is no surprise  there is no devours.
America (even California) had many cultural values helping to shape its laws.

Divorce was legal in the PH up to 1957... an ultra conservative bishop pushed the congress to make illegal divorce... Marcos tried to make it legal but even though he was a dictator he could not impose it !

There is no divorce in the Philippines. There is annulment. That said, there are always options. The Philippines will recognize an international divorce if you have the decree properly authenticated and pay a Philippine lawyer to get it recognized in the courts here. One thing that most do not realize here is that unless your ex spouse is filipino, you can just not state you have ever been married as they do not verify your affidavit and you won’t have a cenomar record. Also, you dont have to get a catholic wedding. Civil works just as well, is cheaper and more practical. Sometimes the local people have to wake up and recognize that the money is better spent on things like a house and furniture.

I'm not able to confirm you assertion. In fact the devorce laws are based on the Spanich Civil code and only allow separation similar to the current laws. Having been independent from Spain from 1898 it is curious how Spain's code would influence a return to same in 1957...?

During the american colonial period, divorce was allowed up to 1957.

To be more precise, in 1917 there was divorce allowed in restrictive cases. 1943 absolute divorce allowed by Japonese. When US came back, the 1917 law replaced the 1943 law. But in  1950 divorce was totally illegal like during Spanish time.

Some states, such as California where I practice law, do not recognize common law marriage at all so you are partially right at best.

I understand Muslim law is different in the Philippines my brother-in-law has obtained a divorce from his wife my sister in law by Muslim court or what ever they use, he claims it cost 250,000 peso in Cotobato I have never saw any of the paperwork in person but his former wife says it is true, he is an American

Once a Muslim always a Muslim, ppl who leave Islam risk prosecution by Muslims who according to Islamic rules can kill those who leave Islam.
Easy ways are mostly not good ways to do things.

hello. i never ask about a devorce in the philippines. me and my wife are still vtery much in love. so please next time make sure u address the right person. thank you

speedy1204 :

hello. i never ask about a devorce in the philippines. me and my wife are still vtery much in love. so please next time make sure u address the right person. thank you

🤣 you are strange you never participated to this conversation, it is your first post 🤣

I believe a Muslim divorce can be much cheaper than that if a foreigner is not involved, I've figures of around P100,000 or less. As with everything here when a foreigner is involved the price goes through the roof. With a standard annulment there is no set figure and I read some advice on this subject a long time ago which was directed at a foreigner who's Filipina GF is married. If his GF goes to an attorney with a male cousin or a friend to pretend to be her BF. Both dressed very modestly, no fancy cellphones handbag, jewelry or watches etc.

Then they tell the attorney she is seeking an annulment because they are already living together and have a kid or kids but her family are very unhappy because she is living in sin and they are very religious, so the family are going to try to help her pay for the annulment. Although it will not speed up the process it can be surprising the difference in price.

mharrich :

The following webpage address has very good information about how to get your foreign divorce recognized in the Philippines.  The information is comprehensive and well written.  You can even ask general questions if you have any.  Anyway there is a lot of good information there for all the read,.   https://lawyerphilippines.org/2017/04/1 … s-process/

Are you sure that Web Page is accurate and up to date...I feel it is not..

Did anyone divorce a Filipina in his own country and then remarry another Filipina on Philippines turf.??
I did and have registered the divorce with the Manila Civil Registry...Did you have to take any further steps to facilitate legally remarrying?

Basically want to know if you had any difficulties in remarrying  and recording it with PSA

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