2018 FAQ Guide on the Recognition of Foreign Divorce

If you are in a situation in which you contemplate recognition of foreign divorce, then these frequently asked questions and their answers may be helpful.

This FAQ answers questions we’ve come across from both foreigners and Filipinos during our practice:

  • From foreigners who want to marry Filipinos again and are interested in Recognition of Foreign Divorce for immigration or remarriage purposes
  • From Filipinos who’ve married Filipinos and want to know if Recognition of Foreign Divorce is applicable to them
  • From Filipinos who have married foreigners and are looking to remarry or immigrate.

In addition, the post clarifies questions about ‘red ribboning’, reporting your foreign divorce to the embassy, and what happens to your CENOMAR after the process is finally completed.

FAQ 1:

If two Filipinos obtain a divorce abroad, can their divorce be recognized in the Philippines?

Answer: No. Such a divorce cannot be recognized in the Philippines. Recognition of foreign divorce is only available if at least one of the spouses was a non-Filipino at the time of the divorce.

The two Filipinos are still married in the Philippines. They would need to file for annulment if they would like to change their civil status.

FAQ 2:

If two dual citizens divorce abroad, can they afterwards have their divorce recognized in the Philippines?

Answer: No, they cannot. If a divorce is obtained by two dual citizens — if both of them have Filipino citizenship at the time of the divorce — then that divorce cannot be recognized. Since they both have Filipino citizenship, they remain subject to the prohibition on divorce between two Filipinos.

FAQ 3:

If two Filipinos divorce abroad and then either of them becomes a foreign citizen afterwards, can that divorce be recognized in the Philippines?

Answer: No.  The divorce cannot be recognized if they were both Filipino citizens at the time it was obtained.

FAQ 4:

If two Filipinos marry and then one is a foreign citizen at the time of their foreign divorce, can that divorce be recognized in the Philippines?

Answer: Yes, it can. If one of the parties is a foreigner at the time of their divorce, then that foreign divorce can be recognized in the Philippines.

FAQ 5:

If I simply report my foreign divorce to the Philippine embassy, is my divorce automatically recognized in the Philippines?

Answer: No, it requires a court process. Your divorce being reported to the embassy simply informs the embassy that you were divorced abroad. This does not change your civil status in the Philippine civil register which still reflects your marriage. You will still need to file for recognition of foreign divorce in court.

FAQ 6:

If I red-ribbon my foreign divorce by having it authenticated at the Department of Foreign Affairs or Philippine embassy, is my divorce automatically recognized by the Philippines?

Answer: No. Red-ribboning by the Philippine embassy authenticates that the foreign public officer who signed the document had the authority to do so. It does not change the your civil status in the Philippines and you still will need to file a case in court for recognition of that foreign divorce.

FAQ 7:

I am a Filipino. Can I file for divorce from my foreign spouse?

Answer: Yes. You can file for a divorce in another country from your foreign spouse even if you are Filipino. This divorce can be recognized in the Philippines.

FAQ 8:

Can I file a case for recognition of foreign divorce even if I live outside the Philippines?

Answer: Yes, a case for recognition of foreign divorce can be filed even if you live outside the country. However, you should ideally come to the Philippines at least once during the trial in order to testify in court.

FAQ 9:

Will my civil status on my CENOMAR immediately revert to single after the issuance of the court decision granting recognition of foreign divorce?

Answer:  You will still need to register the court decision recognizing your foreign divorce with the Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly National Statistics Office) before your marriage record will reflect the divorce. This results in an Advisory on Marriage which notes the divorce and allows you to remarry. This process can itself take months.

FAQ 10:

If I am a Filipino who divorced abroad and now lives in the Philippines, are my foreign divorce papers enough to prove that I am single for immigration purposes (fiancée visa)?

It depends on the country you are immigrating to and their policy at that time. Foreign immigration laws are different per country and implementation policies change. It is best to consult with the country consulate first to determine what is needed and then to consult a lawyer here if Philippine recognition of foreign divorce is necessary.

FAQ 11:

If I am a Filipino who divorced and now lives abroad, are my divorce papers enough to prove that I am single for immigration purposes (fiancée visa)?

Again, it depends on the countries involved. There are some instances where you will still need Philippine recognition of foreign divorce in order to immigrate overseas.

FAQ 12:

Can a foreigner file the recognition of foreign divorce case in the Philippines?

Yes, the Supreme Court has affirmed a foreigner’s right to file such a case in the Philippines.

FAQ 13:

Does a foreigner need to register his foreign divorce from his previous Filipino spouse and have it recognized here for him to remarry in the Philippines?

It depends. A foreigner would need to do this if he wants to get married inside the country and a Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) is required of him despite being a foreigner. Issues concerning subsequent immigration abroad sometimes also require obtaining recognition of foreign divorce.

FAQ 14:

What happens to Philippine property and custody after the recognition of foreign Divorce?

It depends. The Supreme Court has made pronouncements that while the fact of the foreign divorce can be recognized and the parties allowed to remarry in accordance with that divorce, Philippine courts still retain discretion with regard to provisions on custody, support and Philippine property.

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