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

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.


Options to Legally Separate

Recognition of Foreign Divorce

Void Marriages


Special Mention: Legal Separation and Judicial Separation of Property

3 Options to Legally Separate

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
    • Ayear and a half
    • Usually faster than annulment
  2. Void Marriages
    • 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 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

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 afterwards.

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

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

The court process to legal 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 judgement 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 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 report on both of the spouses, and a professional psychologist and other witnesses to testify to the psychology and history of either spouse.


For all other marriages, 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

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 happen:

  • 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.

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