3 Ways to Legally Separate if You’re in a Philippine Marriage

by | May 23, 2018 | Family Law, Annulment & Other Separations

A broken heart flanked by an unhappy couple in a broken marriage.

Ending a marriage can be tough!

The end of a marriage is a difficult time. You’ll need to read this post if you’re trying to figure out the best way to legally separate.

This post discusses 3 ways to dissolve a marriage in the Philippines and gives a brief overview of costs and the process.

In it, you may find the path that works for you.

3 Options to Legally Separate

A broken house with the family on different sides

There are options to end a marriage.

The Philippines famously has no divorce but does recognize that some marriages do need to come to an end.

Other than death, there are 3 ways to dissolve a marriage in the Philippines and each of these allows you to remarry again.

1. Recognition of Foreign Divorce

  • Only for Filipinos who’ve divorced a foreigner
  • A year and a half
  • Usually faster than annulment

2. Void Marriage

  • Marriages not valid from the beginning which include psychological incapacity grounds.

3. Voidable Marriages

  • Marriages valid at the beginning but can be annulled for certain reasons.

Don’t get confused – there is something called Legal Separation in the Philippines.

However, this doesn’t allow you to remarry in the Philippines.

It only dissolves your common property regime and releases you from the obligations of marriage such as living together.

This and judicial separation of property deal more with dividing marriage property.

Recognition of Foreign Divorce


A large x between a groom and a bride with flags identifying their nationalities to show the end of a marriage.

Foreign divorces can be acknowledge in the Philippines through a court process.

Recognition of Foreign Divorce is simpler and faster than annulment but is only for marriages where a foreign spouse is involved.

You are not eligible for this if:

  • You are a Filipino who divorced another Filipino in a foreign country;
  • You are a Filipino who divorced another Filipino and one of you became a foreigner only afterward.

This is only applicable for divorced couples where at least one spouse was a foreigner.

One of you must be a foreigner at the time of the divorce.

So, if you were both Filipinos but one became a naturalized citizen of another country (say the U.S.), then you divorced, you can avail of this process.

Recognition of foreign divorce is usually faster and more certain than annulment and allows you to remarry in the Philippines.

Filing for recognition is advisable this since there are property issues that will arise from not doing so.

If you plan to live or retire here, if you have children together, or if you have Philippine property, you really should get this done.

Further information detailing the cost, process and other important aspects is found here.

Void Marriages

A wedding couple that is being pounded by a gavel.

A void marriage allows 2 Filipinos to separate.

Void marriages are marriages that are against the law or didn’t meet certain requirements before they were celebrated.

The court process to legally dissolve a void marriage is one for declaration of nullity.

So, what would make your marriage void?

First, your marriage is void when you haven’t complied with basic requirements:

  • One of you was under 18 at the time of the marriage;
  • You had no marriage license;
  • Your marriage was performed by someone not authorized to do so (unless you both believed in good faith that he was);
  • You are already married (unless one spouse was declared presumptively dead);
  • You married and were mistaken as to the identity of your spouse;
  • You married before the judgment declaring your previous marriage void was recorded in the Civil Register.

Second, a marriage is void when it smacks of incest – including those situations with adopted children.

Marriages are void when it is incestuous such as between brothers and sisters or between ascendants and descendants.

As adopted children are considered the family, marriages that involve them and their adopting family are also void. (Article 37 and Article 38 of the Philippine Family Code)

Finally, the most resorted to the ground for declaration of nullity is the psychological incapacity of one or both of the spouses at the time of marriage.

Psychological incapacity can be a contentious ground which requires significant evidence to prove. It usually requires a psychological profile and reports on both of the spouses, and a professional psychologist and other witnesses to testify to the psychology and history of either spouse.


A married couple being cut in half.

Annulment is usually the only option when 2 married Filipinos wish to separate.

For all other marriages, an annulment is the only option.

You can annul the marriage for the following reasons:

  • married without guardian’s consent if one was 18 but below 21;
  • either party was of unsound mind;
  • fraud;
  • coercion;
  • not able to physically consummate the marriage;
  • serious sexually transmitted disease.

As with the other methods, this involves a court process.

The court where it is filed often determines how quickly the case is processed. In addition, property and custody issues can lengthen the process.

There are several hearings and pleadings which also add to the cost.

Annulment Fees are composed of:

  • Filing fees
  • Court Appearance Fee
  • Lawyer’s Acceptance Fee
  • Pleading Fees
  • Miscellaneous Fees

Still, the peace of mind and being able to remarry are often worth it. It also helps to ensure that property issues do not arise.

Special Mention: Legal Separation and Judicial Separation of Property

An angry wedding couple facing legal separation.

Legal Separation doesn’t allow remarriage but splits property.

While the above 3 are ways to dissolve a Philippine marriage, I’ll also mention Legal Separation and Judicial Separation of Property.

They are often discussed in the same breath but deal mainly with dividing property and do not allow you to marry again.

Legal separation involves property division and separation of bed and board when one of the spouses is at fault.

When you undergo legal separation, the following happens:

  • You are awarded property if you are the innocent spouse;
  • You are not required to fulfill marital obligations such as living together, etc;
  • You are not allowed to marry again.

On the other hand, Judicial Separation of Property can be a no-fault division of property.

Spouses can agree on what should be given to whom and this can be with or without cause.

As these can be complex cases, please read How is the Marriage Property Divided in Legal Separation? and A Simpler Way to Divide Conjugal Property for more detail.


  1. Velina

    I want to annul my married from my husband who cheated me 2 times..but apparently that time he did that I’m always give him a second chance because we have 2 son..then I got to abroad to work and I realized that its enough to be with him..

  2. Alex

    I got married while my birth certificate is still marked as male on the gender is my marriage void in the first place?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      No, this is not a ground for a void marriage.

  3. Aidan

    Hi good day i would like to ask if i can file an annulment from my ex we got married because of her religion stating that she wont get baptized unless we got married as we are already living together. i decided to broke up with her because she keeps on assaulting me when im asleep when we are not in good terms. hope for your kind advice thank you.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      To end the marriage, an annulment can be filed as you are both Filipino.

      The facts and details would have to be assessed first and a lawyer engaged.

  4. Benedict

    Good afternoon. Would like to know if “both husband and wife got tired of each other and finally decided to call the marriage off” is enough reason for legal separation? Lots of things happened in the past, like all marriages. We have our own fair share of mistakes, and as we sat down and talk about our marriage, we feel that it’s, with regret, time to end it. Make no mistake though, we tried to make it work time and time again, but it finally came down to the realization of we are not happy being with each other anymore. Would this be enough grounds for Legal Separation? Thank you in advance.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      This is not a ground for annulment or legal separation.

      Legal separation separates property but doesnt allow remarriage. Annulment separates property and allows remarriage.

      For this reason, I usually suggest annulment as the course to take.

  5. Mylene

    We are living apart for almost 4years how can I file for annulment? Is this reason enough so I can dissolve the marriage? We’re not getting along fine before we live separately

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Physical separation is not grounds for annulment.

      Although more information would be need to give accurate advice, it is far more likely that psychological incapacity would be the ground used.

  6. Melanie

    Good afternoon. I just want to know f my problem with my husband will be ground for separation. My husband left me for almost 6 yrs. We have one daughterx

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Abandonment is not grounds for legal separation.

      Annulment is more likely the correct process to go through as it ends the marriage and allows remarriage. Legal separation does not allow remarriage.

  7. Sharyn

    Good afternoon.. my husband and I we’re separated for almost 14 years and we don’t have contacts from each other… how can I file for annulment? My daughter is already 22 years old and I’m alone who gave her and support her till she finished college… please Sir I need your advice

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi – I go through annulment in great detail in my article Annulment (Nullity of Marriage and Psychological Incapacity).

      It goes through all the steps and requirements. I think it may help give you an overview of what you need to prepare so that you can file.

  8. Anonymous

    Hi … i got married to my husband which i dont know he is married already to other girl and we have 3 kids and its 2 and half year already that were seperated what is the best way i can do…sir i need your advice sir thank you

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      This is a bigamous marriage. Jowever to end it you would still have to go to court

  9. Robert

    Good day Sir/Mam. I Have same problem. After 9 years of marriage, me and my wife already separated. I also found out that she was already married once before me, without my knowledge. And its still valid because there’s no court decision that she’s annulled or separated to the first one. And her first husband is still alive.We’re already separated for about 10 years now. Is our marriage still valid? And can I still file for a void marriage? If so,what/how’s the process? Thank you.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      This may be a bigamous marriage but you would still have to go to court to dissolve it.

  10. Cassandra

    for attorney’s consultation fee for legal separation, how much will be the cost? thank you.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  11. Anonymous

    Good day1 I have been separated from my husband for almost 10 years. We are planning to file an annulment/divorced, both agree from my side and his side. I have already a new partner we have been together for almost 6 years now. My husband knows my situation and his willing to file to void our marriages, but cannot afford to pay for annulment. Please, can you help me?
    Waiting for a response.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      This is a difficult situation.

      Although you can approach the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), I understand that the PAO has a great deal of work.

      I am not sure that they can help – but it may be good to try.

      The PAO is located in your local hall of justice.

  12. teddy

    how much will it cost for filing a presumptive of death? and is it possible to do it while im abroad?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi Teddy:

      A presumptive death case can be filed while abroad but it can cost as much as annulment and requires very strong proof.

      If your goal is simply to end the marriage annulment would be best.

  13. Anonymousr

    Hi me and my husband separated for almost 4 yrs and i want our marriage to be void.. Im raising may daughters alone…
    Is cheating can be a grounds for a annulment?
    Even buying a girl for a sex? And living together with other woman? Having a child with other woman? Are those reasons can help for annulment?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      It can form part of psychological incapacity but your case would first need to be evaluated by a lawyer and a psychologist to build the case.

  14. michelle

    hi! i need your help..my husband already told me to call a marriage off its because that we are always fighting and even he don’t have a stable job to sustain our daughter and Im the one who support it right now.He also cheated me one time and now I dont want to live with him anymore.Is it possible for a legal separation eventhough I am here working abroad??

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      It will depend.

      You can start the process abroad but it is often advisable to testify in court for an annulment proceeding.

      Legal separation separates property but does not allow remarriage. Annulment allows remarriage.

  15. Lisa Conde

    How to file for a judicial separation? How much & how long will i wait? Thanks in advance

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  16. Jon

    How much for the full legal separation process? And so as to judicial seperation?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  17. Eva

    Me and my husband already separated for 4yrs due to his inability to stay at the same work. He is a job hopper which results to inability to maintain benefits for our daughter. I’m currently sustaining all the needs of my daughter who is a special child and I don’t have any news to my husband since then. He also never provided money for needs and such since he is busy job hopping from one work to another even though its an office work. He tends to say he is being bullied in the office w/c idk if that’s a possible same reason to all the works he has been through. Can I ask how much is the rate for annulment in this case and how much years does this take usually? His parents already confessed that he has visited a psychologist but couldn’t maintain it as he declared himself already healed. Thank you!

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  18. Anonymous

    I am married for 3yrs but we live in for 8yrs and a total of 11yrs but in that year of relationship we live together for 4yrs,because I work abroad for 7yrs.and now we decided to annulled our marriage because it’s not gonna work out because of his mistakes way back 2013 and until now I cant forget for what he did,we get married because of my sons request,and now I want annulment and he agree as well,so Is it possible to orocess even im here in abroad?and how long it takes?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.



  1. Legal separation in the Philippines - Lawyers in the Philippines - […] To see how to dissolve your Philippine marriage, check out 3 Ways to Legally Separate if You’re in a…
  2. Annulment (Nullity of Marriage and Psychological Incapacity) - Lawyers in the Philippines - […] Other than death, there are only 3 ways to legally dissolve a marriage in the Philippines: […]

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