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Philippines Marriage Laws: Divorce Not a Legal Option

Philippines Marriage Laws: Divorce Not a Legal Option

It seems like a story from medieval times, but it isn’t. The Philippines is one of the two countries in the world that still do not accept divorce as a legal option. In the majority of countries, divorce is accessible to married couples so long as certain criteria are met. However, one of the rare exceptions to this rule is the Philippines where the best you can get is an annulment, and only under very strict circumstances. Since so many foreigners have online relationships with Filipino woman, investigators in the Philippines consider this as important information to share.  Many foreigners simply don’t know.

In general, Philippine law does not provide for divorce inside the country. This restriction applies to both foreigners living in the Philippines and nationals alike. The only exception to this rule is with respect to Muslims, who may divorce in certain circumstances due to their religion.

Although divorce is not legal, the law does allow for marriages to be annulled. The annulment means that the marriage is no longer valid, and can be obtained in one the following scenarios:

  • When there is lack of parental consent and either party younger than 21.
  • When one of the parties has a psychological incapacity.
  • When the marriage was fraudulent.
  • When the consent for marriage was obtained by force or intimidation.
  • When there was physical incapability of consummating the marriage.
  • When there is a serious sexually transmitted disease with a party’s health.

Another option is a legal separation, which can be filed only for adultery or cases when one of the parties attempts against the other’s life. Annulments and legal separations can be expensive and time-consuming processes, which is why many Filipinos just prefer to remain legally married.

The real problem with this is that many Filipinos with online relationships will not tell the truth about their marriage status to their new partners. Investigators in the Philippines recommend hiring a professional private investigator to conduct a background check investigation that includes marriage records to verify this before getting started with any paperwork, like a visa sponsorship application or the like.

“We have many cases of people who find out too late that their Filipina partner was in fact married, after investing a lot of time and money in the relationship. That is why checking since the very beginning of the relationship is a good idea”, says Nathan Mendoza form Philippine PI.

In regards to marriages between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner, divorce can be obtained abroad using the laws in the home country of the foreign spouse. This would constitute a valid divorce in the Philippines and would therefore give both parties the ability to remarry under Philippine law.

If you are planning on getting involved in a serious relationship with a Filipina, contact us to verify her marriage status. It is better to be well informed than to be caught in legal trouble!

C. Wright
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