Dissolution of marriage, or what we call in simple terms as divorce, has become a remedy to spouses whose marriages have plummeted downhill. However, though this remedy is obtainable in a lot of countries, Philippines has remained to steer clear away from Divorce law.

Since Philippines does not adhere to divorce, a lot of Filipinos try to make their way to another country where they can obtain a divorce decree. One misconception that Filipinos have about divorce is that when they get married in a foreign land, then their marriage can be dissolved in such land. This is not true at all.

Filipinos are bound by their nationality law, their family rights and duties, among others, are still governed by the Philippines laws wherever country they may be. It is only through naturalization in another country that they free themselves from the realm of the Philippine laws. Thus, even if Juan and Maria, both Filipinos, got married in America they still cannot have their marriage dissolved in America unless one or both of them become a naturalized American.

Another mistake Filipinos have about divorce is that when they marry a foreigner, then they can have their marriage dissolved. This has a partial truth to it especially when the foreigner spouse files for the divorce in his country. But such divorce is not automatically recognized here in the Philippines. The Filipino spouse must first obtain a judgment from a Philippine court granting the recognition of such foreign divorce decree.

Void And Voidable Marriages Distinguished

The Family Law of the Philippines distinguishes void from voidable marriages.  Void and voidable marriages differ on many aspects, starting from its nature, effects on the marriage, as well as  the remedy available to parties whose marriage fall under either of the categories.  Below are the comparisons between the two:

As to nature.  A void marriage is one that is considered inexistent from the start, as if no marriage transpired between the couple.  A voidable marriage is one that is valid until it is declared annulled by the courts.

As to the susceptibility of being ratified.  A void marriage cannot be ratified since there is no marriage to speak of.  A voidable marriage is susceptible of convalidation or ratification either by the free cohabitation of the parties or by prescription.

As to effect on property.  There is no community property but only a co-ownership in a void marriage.  On the other hand, an absolute community exists in a voidable marriage, unless there was a marriage settlement or prenuptial agreement defining the system that will govern property relations during the marriage.

As to effect on children.  In a void marriage, children are generally illegitimate, except:

  1. Those who were conceived or born before judgment of absolute nullity under Art. 36 (psychological incapacity as ground for nullity) has become final and executory;
  2. Those conceived or born of subsequent marriage under Art. 53 (without the partition and distribution of properties of the spouses and the delivery of presumptive legitimes of the children)

On the other hand, children born under a voidable marriage are legitimate if conceived before the grant of decree of annulment.

As to how marriage may be impugned.  A void marriage may be impugned both directly and collaterally and may be impugned even after the death of the parties.  A voidable marriage can only be attacked directly and may no longer be impugned after the death of a party.

Proper remedy available.  Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is the proper remedy in case the marriage is void.  Voidable marriages may be declared null through the remedy of annulment.