Supreme Court says foreign divorce valid in PH


Posted at Apr 24 2018 04:16 PM | Updated as of Apr 24 2018 05:44 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Filipinos divorced in other countries are allowed to remarry under Philippine law, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Voting 10-3, magistrates of the high court ruled that a divorce obtained by a Filipino citizen against a foreign spouse overseas is valid in the Philippines.

In the case of Marelyn Tanedo Manalo, the court noted Article 26 (2) of the Family Code which provides that "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 likewise have the capacity to remarry under Philippine law."

Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said prior to Tuesday's ruling, a divorce abroad is only considered valid here in the Philippines when it is initiated by the foreign spouse.

Magistrates who dissented were Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza refrained from voting due to his previous participation in the case as Solicitor General, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is still on leave, Te said.

In the case at hand, a lower court had ruled that the above-stated provision of the Family Code did not apply in the case because it was the Filipino spouse that initiated the divorce.

But the Court of Appeals overturned the decision, holding that Article 26 of the Family Code applies even if it was the Filipino spouse who filed for divorce against the foreign spouse because the decree obtained makes the foreigner no longer married to the Filipino, enabling the foreigner to remarry. 

The appellate court held that it would be unjust to consider the Filipino still married to the foreigner who is no longer considered married to the Filipino. 

The Supreme Court sustained the appellate court's ruling. 

The Philippines and the Vatican remain as the only states in the world where divorce is outlawed. Annulments are legal in the Philippines, but the process is costly and could take years.

The House of Representatives last month passed a divorce law on final reading. President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed opposition to the measure. 

-- report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News