What Pinoys need to know about divorce in Canada

By Marjorie Carmona Newman, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Apr 04 2014 06:55 AM | Updated as of Apr 04 2014 02:55 PM

EDMONTON - Divorce is a topic not openly discussed among Filipinos in Canada as it is illegal in the Philippines.

Filipinos living in countries like Canada where divorce is recognized don't have enough knowledge about divorce proceedings.

Golda Villa is one of them.

A live-in caregiver since 2011, Villa is about to apply for permanent residency and wants to make sure her paperwork is in order.

She also applied for divorce in Canada.

"My purpose why I'm filing for divorce because we've been separated for almost 3 years or 4 years, the relationship is hindi na maganda," Villa said.

Notary Public Noel Salaysay, a member of the Law Society of Alberta and the Philippines bar, explained the process.

"In Alberta, you have to be a resident of Alberta for one full year and then depending on the grants for divorce, you have to be living separately and apart for one year before you can apply for divorce. The document that you will need will be your marriage certificate," said Salaysay.

But Filipinos should keep in mind that divorce is not legal in the Philippines.

"If you got married in Canada as a single person, that will be recognized in the Philippines. But if you get married in Canada and you are married in in the Philippines, they won't recognize," he said.

Despite this, many Filipinos still file for divorce especially for couples who have been separated for a long time. Statistics Canada said 95 % of people who filed for divorce in Canada cited separation as the main reason. Adultery and mental or physical cruelty were also cited as other grounds for divorce.

Like many Filipinos, Villa is aware that divorce is not recognized in the Philippines and when she returns home, she is still considered married to her husband.

But she's still getting a divorce as she wants to move on with her life here.

Still, Filipinos should know what they're getting into and the possible consequences in filing for a divorce.

As they remain legally married in the Philippines, their spouses or anyone back home may file for bigamy in Philippine courts.

Lawyers said those who want to nullify their marriage in the Philippines should file for an annulment instead.

Divorce is a difficult experience to undergo. To alleviate the confusion of the process, there are many resources available such as legal aids, family lawyers, and other free legal services. It is important to seek the right resources in order to have accurate information.