Illustrado Magazine February 2014 Issue

Breaking Up Is Not Hard To Do

By: Barney Almazar, Esq.


When love fades, breaking up should not make you break down. In this issue, Atty. Barney will give us available legal options to have a healthy split up and learn the right things about love.  



The rest of the world, except the Philippines and the Vatican City, has divorce laws.  Article 1 of the Family Code of the Philippines defines marriage as a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. It is an unbreakable contract. Article 68 of the same code obliges the husband and wife to love each other. The law imposes the duty to love your spouse. But can you really dictate your heart?


When you have tried your best to save the marriage but can’t, should you live a miserable life because you made the mistake of entering into an irreconcilable marriage? Should you stay together and show your children the wrong things about love? Family laws in the Philippines and in the United Arab Emirates provide for remedies so that breaking up shouldn’t make couples break down.


For non-Muslim OFW in the UAE, what are your options if you want to remarry? This article will discuss the available remedies and their respective advantages and disadvantages.




The Family Code of the Philippines provides limited grounds for filing a petition for annulment. The most common ground to render a marriage void is Article 36—psychological incapacity. Thus, if either party cannot comply with the essential marital obligations (to live together, observe mutual love, respect, fidelity, and render mutual help and support), the marriage can be declared void ab initio.


  • Annulment is recognized in the Philippines and anywhere in the world. When you remarry, it will be valid anywhere.
  • The effect of annulment is as if your marriage never existed.  Declaring it void ab initio means the marriage is null and void from the very beginning.
  • Annulment is suggested if you have properties in the Philippines or planning to go back to the Philippines and marry a Filipino.  
  • Annulment can only be filed in the Philippines even if you were married abroad.
  • The annulment process takes longer time to conclude.
  • The parties cannot mutually consent to an annulment. If the court is convinced that collusion exists, it shall dismiss the petition.
  • Annulment costs more as you will need to pay for the psychological evaluation and other incidentals (air fare going to the Philippines, etc.)


The annulment process starts with the filing of the petition with the Family Court of the province or city where the either spouse resides for the last 6 months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident where he or she may be found in the Philippines. The court will notify the other party to give his or her side. If the public prosecutor determines that there is no collusion between the parties, the case will be set for pre-trial so parties can agree on the facts surrounding the case. During the parties will submit evidence for the evaluation of the court. If the court finds the petition meritorious, it will issue the decree of annulment after certain formalities with the Civil Registry and Register of Deeds (if there are properties involved) have been complied by the parties.




Filipinos are governed by Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status, condition and legal capacity, even though living abroad. 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.


  • Divorce is filed before the courts having jurisdiction over your residence. Thus, if you are a Dubai resident, the case will be filed before the Dubai courts. You need not go to the Philippines.
  • You and your partner can agree to request the court for a divorce. This will in fact make the process a lot easier. This is applicable even if your partner is outside UAE.
  • The decree of divorce can be issued by the court in about 3 months.
  • Divorce is suggested if you are marrying outside the Philippines, marrying a foreign national, have no properties in the Philippines, retiring abroad or acquiring another citizenship.
  • Divorce is not recognized in the Philippines; you will still be considered married to your previous partner as far as the Philippines is concerned.
  • Not advisable if you plan to live with your new partner in the Philippines.


The process of divorce in Dubai starts with the registration with the court’s Moral & Family Guidance section. A marriage counselor 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: The legal process covering Article 36 above is called “declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.” The legal term annulment refers to the annulment of voidable marriages provided for in Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines. In general context, both are loosely referred to as annulment. The Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines grants divorce to marriages between Filipino Muslims solemnized in accordance with Muslim laws.


Other considerations


Ending your marriage does not only involve you and your partner. You also need to consider your children’s custody and support as well as the settlement of your conjugal assets and joint financial obligations. You need to be physically, financially and emotionally prepared.


Socially, especially for Filipinos, ending a relationship is associated with failure. The reality is that ending a relationship is simply moving on to the next chapter of your life. Relationships are meant for us to experience its joyful moments and learn from its challenges. We only have limited time in our lives and we should live it with those who matter the most. 


Barney Almazar, Esq.

Atty. Barney is a director at the Commercial Department of Gulf Law in the Middle East, Philippines and United Kingdom. He holds a UAE legal consultancy license and is a lifetime member of the Philippine Bar. He is a holder of Juris Doctor and MBA dual degrees with concentration on International Business and European Union Law (University of London).

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