Divorce is currently not recognized in the Philippines. However, a divorce that is validly obtained abroad and initiated by the foreign spouse grants the Filipino spouse the capacity to remarry under Philippine law, provided that the divorce is judicially recognized by a Philippine court.
How can the foreign divorce be recognized in the Philippines?
Recognition is a judicial process where both the foreign divorce and the foreign divorce law need to be proven in court. A Filipino national who has been divorced overseas may file a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce with a Regional Trial Court in the Philippines. He/she will need to seek the services of a lawyer to prepare and conduct the case.
What are the documentary requirements for filing a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce?
Basic requirements include:
1. Philippine Marriage Certificate if the marriage took place in the country;
2. Official Marriage Certificate from the foreign country if the marriage took place abroad;
3. Report of Marriage of a Filipino married abroad (if one was filed with the DFA);
4. Official copies of foreign divorce documents;
5. Certified copy of the foreign country’s divorce law; and
6. Proofs of citizenship.
Note: This is just a general list. Countries vary in terms of divorce processes and the kinds of marriage and divorce documents issued. Depending on the particular foreign country involved and the particular elements of the case, there may be additional documents required.
The foreign documents will need to be certified by the correct foreign office and authenticated. If the document is apostillized, there is no need for further authentication by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Procedure for filing a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce
The foreign divorce decree must be judicially enforced or confirmed in the Philippines through the filing of the proper civil action at a Regional Trial Court in the Philippines (RTC-Phil). The court decision shall be registered with the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO) where the concerned RTC-Phil functions.
The registered document shall be submitted to the Local Civil Registrar where the marriage is registered. If the marriage was registered overseas, the registered document shall be submitted to the City Civil Registry Office at the Manila City Hall (CCRO Manila).
The following documents shall be submitted to CCRO Manila in annotating a civil registry document:
• Original or Certified True Copy of the foreign judgment or order;
• Original or Certified True Copy of the Certificate of Finality of the decision of the RTC-Phil; and
• Certificate of Registration of the decision of the RTC Phil at the LCRO where the concerned RTC-Phil functions.
After the annotation at the LCRO, the annotated documents and requirements must be submitted to the Office of the Civil Registrar-General (OCRG) in Manila.
For additional information on legal services, legal aid or hiring the services of a lawyer in the Philippines, kindly check the websites of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) or the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in Manila.