A GUIDE TO ANNULMENT 
OF MARRIAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES

By: Atty. Maria Aurora Paredes Sore

ANNULMENT FOREWORD

The purpose of this GUIDE is to inform individuals, who are wanting to file an annulment in the Philippines, about what they need to know about annulment and to make it easier for them to understand the annulment process, from the start until court decision. In my many years of experience as a family lawyer, the usual questions being asked are as follows:

  • Is an Annulment for me?
  • How do I start?
  • How long does annulment take?
  • How much does annulment cost?

I strongly advise anyone, who seeks to know if they might have grounds for an annulment, to discuss the matter with experts on family law.

What is annulment in the Philippines?

Annulment which dissolves a marriage that is valid (Voidable Marriage)
Annulment which declares a marriage null and void (Void Marriage) – referred to as Nullity of Marriage

Is an Annulment for me?

In terminating your marriage, check the grounds which are as follows:

Annulment of Voidable Marriages in the Philippines –

  1. Lack of parental consent. If a party was 18 years or over, but below 21 years old, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents/guardian, UNLESS upon reaching 21 years old, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.
  2. Insanity. Either party was of unsound mind, UNLESS such party after coming to reason, 
freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
  3. Fraud. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, UNLESS such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
  4. Force, intimidation or undue influence. If the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, UNLESS it having disappeared or ceased but such party freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.
  5. Impotency. Either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable.
  6. Sexually Transmitted Disease. If, at the time of marriage, either party was afflicted with a
    sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.

For Annulment of Void Marriage otherwise known as Declaration of Nullity of Marriage in the Philippines:

  1. Where there is an absence of an essential or formal requisite. (Art. 4, first par., Family Code of the Philippines)
  2. Those enumerated in Art. 35, Family Code of the Philippines
  3. Minority. Those contracted by any party below 18 years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians.
  4. Lack of authority of solemnizing officer. Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages, unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so.
  5. Absence of marriage license (except those exempt from license requirement)
  6. Bigamous or polygamous marriages (except in cases where there is declaration of presumptive death)
  7. Mistake in identity Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other.
  8. After securing a judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of marriage, the parties, before entering into the subsequent marriage, failed to record with the appropriate registry the: (i) partition and distribute the properties of the first marriage; and (ii) delivery of the children’s presumptive legitime.
  9. Where one of the parties was psychologically incapacitated at the time of the celebration of the marriage. (Art. 36, Family Code of the Philippines)
  10. Incestuous marriages. (Art. 37, Family Code of the Philippines)
  11. Marriages void by reason of public policy (Art. 38, Family Code of the Philippines)

What is the most common ground of marriage annulment in the Philippines?

Psychological Incapacity. This is present when either or both parties is/are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. 
Lawyers work with psychiatrists or clinical psychologists in cases involving psychological incapacity.

What are some of the behavioral manifestations of psychological incapacity in the Philippines?

Psychological incapacity may be made manifest by, but not limited to, the following:

  1. By the refusal of the wife to dwell with the
husband, after the marriage without fault on the part of the latter, or to have sex with the husband or to have children, vice-versa;
  2. When either party or both of them labor under an affliction that makes common life, as husband and wife, impossible or unbearable, such as compulsive gambling or unbearable jealousy on the part of one party or other psychological causes of like import and gravity;
  3.  Sociopathic anomalies in husbands like sadism or infliction of physical violence on the wife, constitutional laziness or indolence, drug dependence or addiction, or some kind of psychosexual anomaly;
  4. Homosexuality or lesbianism;
  5. Satyriasis in men or nymphomania in women (excessive and promiscuous sex hunger);
  6. Extremely low intelligence;
  7. Immaturity, i.e. lack of an effective sense of rational judgment and responsibility (like refusal of the husband to support the family 
or excessive dependence on parents or peer approval)

Consult your lawyer on your behaviors as they may be considered as psychological incapacity. Lawyers work with psychiatrists/clinical psychologists in annulment cases.

Who can file an action to declare marriage void based on psychological incapacity?

Either you or your spouse, even the psychologically incapacitated, can file the action.

If my spouse opposes the annulment, can I still file an annulment?

Yes, it can still be filed. However, if your spouse would oppose, it might delay the proceedings. Consult your lawyer to avoid a litigious annulment.

If the whereabouts of a spouse cannot be found or his address is not known, can an annulment still be filed?

Yes, jurisdiction over the respondent is acquired though service of summons by publication.

Where do I file annulment in the Philippines?

Petitions for Annulment are filed in the Family Court. The venue is the Regional Trial Court, where you or your spouse resides for at least six months.

What is a Family Court in the Philippines?

A Family Court is a court which has jurisdiction over child and family cases and where you or your spouse resides for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the petition.

How do I start annulment & what happens during annulment in the Philippines?

  1. You have to talk to and seek advise from an expert family and annulment lawyer. During the initial meeting, you have to bring a copy of your certificate of marriage.
  2. The annulment lawyer will assess and advise you on whether or not you have grounds for annulment.
  3. If you are advised to proceed, you need to engage a lawyer and you will be asked to submit some requirements, and if the ground for annulment is psychological incapacity, your lawyer will refer you for psychological testing.
  4. You will be also be instructed to make a narration on your marital history. For those referred to a psychologist, this narration will prepare you for the testing.
  5. During the testing, your spouse, known as “the other party”, will be notified about your
    intention to file an annulment and will be invited to come to an interview by the psychologist to hear his/her side. Even if he/she does not respond or cooperate, the testing will proceed. The psychologist will ask details about your marital and personal history and will ask you to give the names and addresses of your witnesses (at least two). The Witnesses are interviewed or asked to give written statements or both.

Who can be my witness?

Anyone who knows you or your former spouse, e.g. mutual friends, neighbors, relatives, business partners, housemaids. The lawyer usually recommends those who knew both of you before the marriage.
Sometimes witnesses are hard to find or may be hesitant. Your lawyer will guide you on how to explain to them what the process is all about so they can be more willing to get involved.

How do I apply for an annulment in the Philippines?

Through a petition prepared and signed by your lawyer. You will be known as the ‘petitioner.’ You will be advised during the proceedings about further steps to take. Your spouse will be known as the ‘respondent’ during the process. He/She will be notified of the petition through a summons and will be given an opportunity to file an Answer within 15 days from receipt. Even if he/she does not file an Answer or does not appear, the case will proceed. He/She will be informed about what is happening. Most respondents do not appear anymore.

When will be the hearing?

If the respondent does not answer or her/his answer does not raise an issue, collusion hearing 
will be conducted upon motion of your lawyer. The purpose of this hearing is to determine if the grounds stated in the petition were merely fabricated, because the parties are not allowed to manufacture grounds and evidence to support the petition. The next hearing will be preliminary conference/pre-trial, the lawyer can attend this in your behalf by virtue of a Special Power of Attorney from you, in some courts, the petitioners are mandated to appear.

The next hearing will be trial. You need to attend one hearing and testify for your case. Do not believe in “no-appearance” annulment as this is illegal and irregular. There is a possibility that appearance in court will be allowed through a deposition, but this rarely granted by the courts and as a rule, judges require the petitioner to testify personally on court.

How long does annulment in the Philippines take?

In some family courts an average length of time would be a year, but it varies from venue to venue and case to case. In some instances, it may 
take six months; in others eighteen months or more. The family courts will be dealing with other cases simultaneously, and there are various other factors which can affect the process. Non-availability of the petitioner or witness, during hearing can create delay, so we urge our clients and their witnesses to be ready during hearings.

Please take note that the length of time is one of the reasons for the clamor for divorce law in the Philippines. Hire an annulment expert to avoid unnecessary delays and discuss with your lawyer, if you have concerns on the timeframe.

How much will annulment in the Philippines cost?

Cost depends on the circumstances of each case. The usual acceptance fee for annulment starts at PhP180,000.00 or more, but clients prefer the all-in package price which is a flat fee. Clients are better off knowing in advance how much they will pay and being informed of the total cost beforehand. They can also choose to pay the fee outright, upon signing the engagement proposal or negotiate for an easy payment terms. You can ask your lawyer if they offer an all-in package rate, deferred payment option, and discount when paying upfront.

When will I get a copy of the annulment decision?

After the last hearing, your lawyer will file a Memorandum of the Case, if required, then you will receive the judge’s decision. The decision becomes final after the lapse of 15 days from receipt of the Decision of all parties if no reconsideration or appeal is filed.

Do you have to produce any annulment documents?

Yes. You will have to initially provide documents such as your marriage certificate, certificates of live birth of your children, valid ID with address, and barangay certificate.

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Annulment Lawyer Manila Philippines

We hope that this GUIDE will help to make annulment clearer and more understandable. As you go through the process, remember why you need it. When your annulment is granted, you will be single and free and you can enjoy your life or remarry. Please feel free to contact me about annulment in the Philippines at info@pslawoffices.com, if you wish to ask more questions or if you want to start an annulment. We will be glad to help. Thank you!