July 21st, 2006 in Annulment and Legal Separation. Tags: annulment, divorce, Family Code, Filipino, marriage, philippines.
Some Filipinos want and do get married outside the Philippines. There’s nothing really strange with this, except when they say that the reason is for convenience in getting a divorce abroad. This is strange for two main reasons:
1. Divorce is not recognized under Philippine laws. If you’re a Filipino, it doesn’t matter where you get a divorce – such divorce is invalid/void in the Philippines. This is because under the nationality principle (Art. 15, Civil Code), all Filipinos – where they may be in the world - are bound by Philippine laws on family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity. Yes, folks, you can run, but you can’t hide.Nevertheless, divorce decrees secured outside the Philippines are recognized in certain instances. This is provided in Article 26 (Paragraph 2) of the Family Code, which reads in full:
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
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 have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
The twin elements for the application of this provision are:
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and
2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.
At first glance, Article 26 seems to apply only to a marriage between a Filipino and a foreigner. This was raised by a respected commentator in family law, Justice Sempio-Diy, who noted that Art. 26 does not apply:
…to a divorce obtained by a former Filipino who had been naturalized in another country after his naturalization, as it might open the door to rich Filipinos’ obtaining naturalization abroad for no other reason than to be able to divorce their Filipino spouse (Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1995 Ed., p. 30).
However, this provision was later interpreted by the Supreme Court to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry. (Philippines vs. Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, 5 October 2005).
2. Marriage is supposed to be forever. From an idealistic non-legal standpoint, the sole reason for marriage should be love; the kind of love that transcends time and withstands any impediments that life throws our way. From a legal perspective, on the other hand, no less than the Philippine Constitution (Art. XV, Sec. 2) and the Family Code (Art. 1) expressly characterize marriage as the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution. The law states that it is a special contract of a permanent union between a man and a woman (sorry, same sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines). It is inviolable. It is permanent. In short, you don’t think of divorce when you get married.