Being the only country in the entire planet without a divorce law, it is no wonder that annulment in the Philippines, which is the next best thing, is a tedious, stressful, not to mention, expensive process. After you finally decide to pursue the legal path to your freedom from the marital shackles that hovered like dark clouds over your life, the next logical step is hiring a lawyer to help you navigate the legal minefield. The following are our tips to assist you in choosing wisely.
1) LICENSED AND QUALIFIED
All lawyers in the Philippines are licensed by the Supreme Court which has oversight functions over members of the Philippine bar. They are also required to be members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. These two bodies maintain separate lists and directories of all lawyers in the Philippines which are searchable so you can confirm if someone is a licensed attorney in the Philippines. In other jurisdictions, lawyers undergo extra training and qualification in a specialized field like annulment or divorce usually as members of a professional association or group. In the Philippines, expertise in a particular field is gained through years of experience and training in a law firm or under the mentorship of a senior attorney who is a recognized expert in the field of law.
2) HONEST AND RELIABLE
The saying that “honesty is the best policy” while a bit old still rings true today. The lawyer who tells you that there is a possibility that you can lose, who refuses to tell you that he wins 99.9% of his cases, who would never criticize another lawyer to compensate for his own shortcomings, who does not guarantee that he can finish your annulment case yesterday is most likely an honest one.
3) KNOWLEDGEABLE AND EXPERIENCED
Annulment in the Philippines is always a litigated process, unlike in some jurisdictions where parties can simply consent to a divorce. But it is not correct to say that litigation is the only option. Family court judges in the Philippines are trained to steer the parties towards a mediation of the basic issues of property and child custody subject to the approval of the court. So while there will always be a litigation, you have the other option to aggressively pursue a settlement on one or more issues or to stick to your guns and insist on no settlement of any of these issues. If you choose to mediate these issues, you have to realize that it is a give and take affair. You simply cannot get everything that you want. This is where the skills and experience of your choice for an annulment lawyer or law firm will come in. Look for a lawyer or firm who knows how to crystallize the options for you and help you decide .
4) REALISTIC AND PRACTICAL
Annulment ( or more precisely a Declaration of Nullity) is an emotional experience. This is to be expected considering the spectre of acknowledging the mistake and letting go of the years (good and bad) with somebody who had become a big part of your life. In meeting your prospective annulment lawyer for the first time, the tendency would be to unload and shed off all the angst and emotions that you feel. This is where the annulment lawyer could help you put on the mental and emotional brakes and remind yourself that you are facing a legal process the objectives of which is to settle the properties of the marriage and to decide on the custody of the children. Anything outside of these issues, while important, should not be allowed to overwhelm you and affect your pursuit of these objectives to your advantage.
In choosing your annulment lawyer, choose one who can empathize with you but who knows from years of experience that there is a point where you have to move on and determine what you want out of the annulment process and not to harp on the mistakes that were committed during your marriage. The more you turn a prospective annulment lawyer for you into the proverbial shoulder to cry on, the more expensive your annulment is likely to be in terms of lost time and squandered opportunities in the settlement of the properties and the custody of your beloved children.
6) TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY
Most lawyers and law firms in the Philippines are now online. In some jurisdictions it is even considered professional negligence not to have an email or facebook account so clients can readily access their attorneys. To be effective in today’s technologically-driven world, the successful annulment attorney must not only be online, he must utilize technology to be efficient and updated as to the latest trends and developments in family law.
7) SETS REASONABLE AND AFFORDABLE FEES
Annulment is an expensive process and it would be to your advantage to pick an annulment lawyer in the Philippines whose fees are reasonable. Watch out for the lawyer who wants your money in full the moment he set his eyes on you.
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