The Filipino Times News 01 June 2015

The Filipino Times

 

Legal Forum: PHL court must recognize divorce obtained overseas to make it valid

Photo credit: newsdzezimbabwe.co.uk

 

Atty Barney Almazar

LEGAL CASE 1: My ex-husband divorced me through a court in the United States several years ago and I am planning to marry my Arab boyfriend.

Problem is when I checked my records in the Philippines my civil status is still listed as married. I am also still using my ex-husband’s last name in my current passport.

How can I change my civil status from being married to single given that I have been divorced in the US? Can the Philippine Embassy marry me and my Arab boyfriend although he’s a Muslim? Your legal advice is much appreciated.

ANSWER: The CENOMAR or Certificate of No Marriage Record serves as proof that you are eligible to marry. It is also called No Record of Marriage or Certificate of Singleness. For purposes of application of a marriage license, you must submit a recent CENOMAR.

If the divorce decree was secured by your foreign spouse, you must present an authenticated copy of the divorce decree to the Philippine courts and apply for a petition to recognize the foreign divorce decree.

In filing a petition for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree, it is required that the foreign divorce decree be proven in Philippine court to be authentic in accordance with our Rules on Evidence, and that the foreign divorce decree was made in accordance with the laws of the country where it was obtained.

This means that your foreign divorce will only carry an effect in the Philippines once a decision has been made by the court ruling that it formally recognizes and accepts your foreign divorce decree as authentic and valid.

Once granted, the judge will order to change your official marital status from married to single. Once this is complied, you will be able to get your proof of singleness from the NSO.

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Divorce applicable among Filipino-Muslims under Philippine Sharia laws

LEGAL CASE 2: I am a Filipina working in Dubai for three years now. Recently, I decided to embrace Islam and part of being a Muslim means doing what is morally right. I would like to start anew with my life.

My husband and I have been separated for almost two years now and we have no kids. I want to legally dissolve our marriage. Can I file for a divorce? What are the documents needed for this? Would my marriage be considered under Sharia Law or Philippine civil laws?

Please help me. Thank you.

Name Withheld Upon Request

ANSWER: Filipinos, regardless of religion, are governed by Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status, condition and legal capacity, even though living abroad. The legal system of the Philippines recognizes Sharia laws which are applicable to Filipino Muslims.

Presidential Decree No. 1083 provides that Filipino Muslims are governed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines if the marriage was celebrated under the Muslim law.

If your marriage was celebrated under the Muslim law in the Philippines (non-Muslim bride can marry a Muslim groom under the Muslim law), then you can file for a divorce in the Philippine Sharia Courts.

If your marriage was celebrated under the Family Code, then you cannot file an application for divorce in the Philippines.

Your options are to file for annulment in the Philippines or secure a divorce in the UAE.

The process of divorce in UAE starts with the registration with the court’s Moral & Family Guidance section. A marriage counsellor will mediate between the husband and wife for a possible reconciliation.

If saving the marriage is unlikely, the case will be endorsed to the courts. If the other party is outside the UAE, the court will order that a notice be sent to him or her by courier. If the judge is convinced that sufficient reasons exist to grant the divorce, a divorce decree will be issued.

Note that a divorce decree secured by a Filipino from a foreign court will not be recognized in the Philippines but will have legal and binding effect in jurisdictions where divorce is recognized.

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