Dubai: Divorce obtained abroad and initiated by Filipinos with foreign spouses will now be recognised in the Philippines in a landmark ruling by its Supreme Court.
The Philippines’ top court on Tuesday ruled in favour of Marelyn Tanedo Manalo, a Filipina divorced from her Japanese husband.
Manalo’s divorce was granted in Japan in 2011. Based on Philippine laws, however, a local court must recognise the ruling before it can be considered valid in the Philippines.
Divorce is legal around the world except in two nation-states — the Philippines and the Vatican. An absolute divorce bill is pending in congress.
Marriages in the Philippines can be dissolved in two ways: through a declaration of nullity or through annulment.
Attorney Barney Almazar, director of Gulf Law and counsel of some Filipinos seeking annulment and divorce in the UAE, said the ruling makes the process easier for Filipinos seeking recognition for their foreign divorce decree. But it is limited in scope.
“Once the foreign decree is recognised, the court will order the civil registrar to dissolve the marriage and annotate the marriage certificate accordingly. This process may take about a year but is definitely faster, cheaper and less complicated than annulment,” Almazar told Gulf News.
Manalo’s court proceedings ran for nearly seven years from the Regional Trial Court until it reached the Supreme Court (SC).
Almazar noted, however, that the ruling does not apply to two Filipinos seeking divorce.
“Marriages between two Filipinos are not covered by this exemption. If the parties are both Filipinos, only annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage will dissolve the marriage. Divorce secured between two Filipinos will be valid worldwide except in the Philippines and the Vatican,” Almazar said.
“The parties to a divorce may find themselves in a peculiar situation where they have two marital statuses — married in the Philippines and single in the rest of the world,” he added.
Gulf News last week reported the case of Jun, a Filipino who got a divorce in the UAE but is still technically married in the Philippines. Their annulment proceedings have been ongoing for the past three years.
Jun earlier said he favours the divorce bill to be enacted as the annulment process takes a long time and has already burnt a hole in their pockets.
Prior to the SC ruling, only divorce secured by the foreign spouse will capacitate the Filipino partner to remarry. The latter can now remarry even if he or she was the initiator of the divorce, according to the ruling.