How to Determine the Cost of an Annulment in the Philippines?
The following are the steps or factors in order to determine the cost of an annulment in the Philippines.
- The Attorney's Fee--300 to 500 thousand pesos (6 to 10 thousand U.S. dollars)
Attorney's fees vary widely depending on the experience of the attorney, the venue or place of filing, the type of billing structure , related issues like custody, property, and support. Understandably, this is the biggest component of the cost. Just like any legal case, more experienced attorneys generally charge more. Experience normally carries with it expertise and higher likelihood of success. Cost is also higher with firms (made up of a number of attorneys) as compared with solo practitioners and types of billing structure. Law firms can charge on a per hour or fixed fee basis while individual lawyers generally charge fixed fees. Another billing system is the lump sum fee where a law firm or lawyer will charge the entire fee or a large portion of it up front. Clients are usually apprehensive of agreeing to this because they feel that it would be harder to hold the lawyer accountable as the case moves forward. A happy compromise is the payment plan which has become popular with the budget-conscious overseas workers. Custody, property, and support issues included in the core annulment process will add on to the cost because of the additional time and effort necessary to resolve these issues. The Family Code has allowed what is known in more mature jurisdictions like the United States as bifurcation or the separation of these issues with the main case for annulment or divorce. (Section 21 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, March 4, 2003 or The PROPOSED RULE ON DECLARATION OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF VOID MARRIAGES AND ANNULMENT OF VOIDABLE MARRIAGES ). Online sources have placed attorney’s fees between 200 thousand pesos to as high as 600,000 pesos.
- The Psychological Evaluation-25 to 40 thousand pesos (500 to 800 U.S. dollars)
Again, just like with attorney’s fees, the cost of the psychological evaluation varies depending on experience. This normally has two parts, the cost of the report and the appearance fee of the psychologist as a witness in the annulment process. The written Psychological Evaluation Report itself could be as low as 25 thousand pesos to 40 thousand pesos. The appearance fee will depend on where the psychologist or psychiatrist is based relative to the venue or the place of filing of the case. This could be between 2 thousand pesos to 10 thousand pesos per hearing.
- The Filing Fee - 5 thousand pesos if there are no properties involved (100 U.S. dollars)
This is an official regulatory fee and legally covered by an Official Receipt in the name of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The biggest portion of the filing fee is the docket fee which in annulment cases that do not involve custody, property or support is a standard 2,832 pesos. Add on costs will see some variation depending on the venue or place of filing. Total will be between 4,400 to 4,800 pesos.
- Sheriff's Fee
All annulment cases in the Philippines will involve service of summons, notices, and other court papers like orders and decisions. The summons is usually done by the Sheriff, unless the party is authorized by the court to effect the service of the summoms. All other notices and papers can be mailed by the court. The fee of the sheriff is already included in the filing fee paid when the Petition is docketed with the court. (Rule 141, Revised Rules of Court in the Philippines).
- Cost of Publication-20 to 60 thousand pesos (400 to 1,200 U.S. dollars)
Immediately after the passage of the Family Code in 1988, there was a deluge of cases for declaration of nullity of marriage under Art. 36 of the said law on the ground of psychological incapacity, only to be halted when the other party could not be served with summons. The law effectively solved this legal impasse by allowing for the publication of the summons in those cases where the respondent could not be located or whose whereabouts are unknown (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, March 4, 2003 or The PROPOSED RULE ON DECLARATION OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF VOID MARRIAGES AND ANNULMENT OF VOIDABLE MARRIAGES) . The cost will depend on the newspaper which will be assigned by the court. The large national broadsheets could charge 40 to 60 thousand pesos especially in those cases where the court requires the publication of the entire petition, which is actually contrary to the law. Local newspapers can charge between 10 to 20 thousand pesos. There are courts that will even require the publication of the decision which could also add to the cost.
- Cost of Annotation-20 to 30 thousand pesos (400 to 600 U.S. dollars)
The annotation costs mentioned here refer to the Decision of the court granting the declaration of nullity of the marriage. A certificate of finality is obtained from the court which rendered the decision which is then endorsed to the Civil Registrar of the city or municipality where the court is situated then to the Office of the Civil Registrar where the marriage is registered, and finally to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) which is the central repository of recorded marriages in the Philippines. This is optional since the government agencies involved should move it along the system. However, left on its own, the process can take a good 6 months or more to complete. Additional professional fees and regulatory costs total between 10 to 20 thousand pesos.
- Miscellaneous Costs
One should likewise be aware of other out of pocket expenses like printing, mailing, transportation, and stenographic fees.
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