Almost every website on Philippine Family Lawyers would have in one form  or another a section on FAQ , or the ubiquitous Frequently Asked Questions. As a lawyer, I could relate very well to these FAQ’s because they are mostly what you will find in legal textbooks . But I have often wondered whether or not  the ordinary layman, the contract worker aborad, or simply the one who is thinking about getting an annulment can understand all the legal goobledook. Normally, these FAQ’s are long winded and very technically worded, with quoted provisions and decisions of the Supreme Court. In our humble attempt at an FAQ, we have decided to narrow the questions to 10 and avoid the legalese. It is not our goal to present the best FAQ on Philippine Annulment, our only object is to be understood well.


1)       What is an  annulment? 

Picture marraige as a contract, a binding agreement between two people, preferably and in most jurisdictions, between a man and a woman. Just like most So contracts, it could be valid, voidable, or void. It is valid if all its components are present, ie, consent, object, and consummation (or euphemistcially delivery as in a contract of sale). In a marriage, of course, consent is the “I do” in the bringing together of a man and a woman in matrimony, holy or otherwise. The object of course is the union of the parties which in the eyes of the law makes them “one”. Lastly, but no less importantly, is the consummation  which in marriage is widely considered the physical (or sexual) union.  Much debate though has been made on whether or not a marriage can exist without sex, at least at the beginning 

Anyway, going back to our analogy, if there is any defect in the consent (the “I do’), the object (the joining together as man and wife), or the consummation (or delivery in more ways than one, pardon the pun), then the validity of the contract is put into question. In an annulment, the defect generally must come into play after the celebration of the marriage or in a stricter sense must have existed at the very  time of, if it is not by itself the very cause of ,  the celebration of the marriage. Things like fraud, as in the case of the woman who conceals the fact that she is pregnant by a man other than her husband who agreed to the marriage on the assumption that he is the father of the child. The marriage is valid in the beginning but because of the fraud, it is valid until it is annulled. Normally, there are periods within which an annulment can be filed.


 In a divorce, on the other hand, and this is the way the term is generally understood in most jurisdictions allowing for divorce, the defect is made manifest after the celebration of the marriage. Things like the infamous “irreconcillable differences” , “no fault divorce”, or “consensual divorce” are common terms. You do not necessarily have to have a specific reason to terminate the marriage, other than the agreement of the spouses.

Legal separation simply put is a separation physically and in most instances financially. It is a court recognition of the fact of separation of the spouses, thus not obliging any of them to support each other or to live together as husband and wife. I have heard this compared to the  Catholic concept of purgatory because the marital union still exists and the parties cannot marry other people. Often this is not a realistic situation and is not commonly encountered in practice because while it attempts to preserve the union, which in all likelihood may have disintegrated by then,  it puts a legal imprimatur (or signature if you will) to not being obliged to fulfill the very important marital obligations of cohabitation or consortium and support.


2)       What are the grounds for an annulment?


Technically, there is a difference between a traditional annulment and a declaration of nullity of marriage under the Family Code. The basic distinction is that the grounds which give rise to annulment are subject to what is known as ratification by cohabitation, meaning that while the ground may have existed at the time of the marriage (such as lack of consent, incapacity, or fraud), by continuing to live together the invalidity is removed.Often, in the real world, these grounds become inoperative because most married couple, let us face it, cohabit after the marriage.


In a declaration of nullity, however, the marriage is invalid from the very start. A common situation is the bigamous marriage which is almost universally considered void from the very beginning. It is wrong from the start and nothing can be done in order to cure the defect in the contract. A common offshoot of a bigamous marriage is when one of the parties want to get married for a third time. The subquestion arises if it is still necessary to annul the bigamous marriage considering that it is already void to begin with. If we are to be guided by the decisions of the Supreme Court there may be a need to have even the bigamous marriage declared null and void because the parties cannot be allowed to presume the invalidity themselves or even to benefit by their own acts which led to the invalidity of the marriage.

 Other examples are incapacity (marriage before the statutory age of consent which varies from one jurisdiction to the next), lack of consent as in a “gun shot wedding”, incestuous (generally between a descendatn and a direct ascendant)  simualtions like a wedding between two men or two women (only when not allowed by the law of a particular state).

A common ground encountered in practice is “psychologicial incapacity” because, as we said, the other grounds for a traditional annulment would have become inoperative because of cohabitation and perhaps because it is a catch all ground that has resisted precise definition by the courts.









3)       What is  psychological incapacity?


 It would seem that  the term psychological incapacity is a relatively popular one among Filipinos, but widely misunderstood. The common and erroneous notion borders on insanity if not insanity itself, which often creates an aversion to seeking  an annulment of the marriage. After all, who will admit to insanity or more specifically marrying the insane.  Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines which for the first time since the Japanese Occupation allowed for a semblance of divorce in the Philippines via a declaration of the nullity of a marriage where one or both parties is psychologically incapacitated, did not actually define the term leaving the courts to develop a legal framework for it.  It has been said that this provision of the law was really a compromise between the Philippine Catholic church (which for some reason opposes an absolute divorce law in the Philippines) and the group of legal luminaries which drafted the Family Code. True enough, jurisprudence has evolved a definition based initially and mainly on Canon Law, progressing towards a clinical form of incapacity, to its present state of non clinical incapacity. Perhaps, the term really escapes definitiion, as it should  if it is to evolve legally, the only guidance being the failure to fulfill the essential obligations of the marriage. Conditions such as homosexuality, drug or substance abuse, physical, verbal, psychological, and economic abuse, among others, have been used to define the term.



4)       How do I get started with the process of annulment?

The first step would be to get a lawyer, preferably a specialist in the field of annulment of marriage. Do your bit of research. Get online. Read up on lawyers, attorneys, solicitors (as they are known in the UK) , and law firms. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Don’t settle for  suspicious quick fixes offered online or elsewhere.  You will find a host of people (sadly I have heard that other legitimate lawyers are into it as well) who will promise you the moon and the stars, an annulment in 2 weeks without any hassle, no appearances, in some instances no lawyers or attorneys involved and guaranteed 100%. Remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true then it is probably a hoax. Remember too that lawyers if they are worth their salt are not allowed ethically to guarantee the outcome of cases.

The second step would be to write your marital history. This is a detailed narrative of your marriage from the time you met you spouse, a description of the start, middle portion, and end of your relationship, the event that precipitated your separation, with a focus on the personality of your spouse and what about him/her in your mind led to the break up of the relationship.


The third step would be the psychological evaluation process. This varies from one psychologist to the next. Your lawyer normally would recommend a psychologist/psychiatrist who will do the evaluation and be a witness in court. Even court personnel would have a recommnendation or two.  The evaluation costs between 15,000 pesos to as high as 40,000 pesos. Some charge additional per diem for testifying in court and the rate would depend on the venue of the proceedings. Your spouse will be asked to join in, but in most instances they do not participate even in the evaluation process. The psychologist will then proceed to do the evaluation based on your tests and the interviews with you and other persons  who knew you and your spouse and what happened to the marriage.

The fourth step would be the drafting  then filing  of the Petition itself. This is your lawyer’s job.

After the filing of the Petition, which you must sign, the case is raffled to a branch of the Regional Trial Court where it was filed. Your spouse will now be notified by sending him papers called summons requiring him to answer the petition  within 15 days from receipt of the notice. If he is not in the country, notices can be served him through publication.

Collusion investigation normally follows , which is an informal process whereby the public prosecutor assigned to the court (or in some jurisdictions this is raffled as well) is asked to determine if the parties are conspiring to file a case.

After the collusion investigation, a report is prepared by the public prosecutor on the findings of his investigation.

If no collusion is found, the case proceeds to a pre-trial and your spouse will be notified again. If he does not appear, the court will proceed with the marking of the documents, the determination of the number of witnesses, and the schedule of the trial.

During the trial stage, witnesses will be called. Normally, the witnesses would be you, a corroborating witness (who knew you and your spouse and what happened to your marriage), and the psychologist who will testify on the evaluation made. The public prosecutor representing the government will be allowed to question the witnesses as well.

After the trial and the offer of the evidence, the case is then submitted for decision. 

Note that the presence of the spouse is not necessary in the process. In most annulment proceedings, in fact,  the other party to the marriage does not participate anymore. This speeds up the process somewhat because if he makes an appearance, then he will likewise be given the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence.

The uncontested annulment case takes from between 6 months to one year to complete depending on the calendar of the court, the availability of witnesses and other issues such as custody or property.


5)       If  I am  abroad, can I still file and pursue an annulment?


Yes.  Part of the psychological evaluation can be done by email and the interview can be done via VOIP, but most psychologists will ask to see the petitioner in person before releasing the evaluation. Also, after the drafting of the Petition, you may sign the petition in the presence of a Philippine consul authorized to take oaths nearest your place of residence. The authenticated documents are then sent back to the Philippines for filing in court. At a certain point in the proceedings described above, particularly during the trial stage, you will be required to testify and appear in court.




6)       If I am already divorced and married in another country, do I still need to have my marriage annulled?

It depends. If you were still a Filipino citizen at the time you obtained the divorce then you will still be required under Philippine laws to obtain an annulment if you intend to marry again. If you have already changed citizenships, then you may not need an annulment anymore to get married again. However, a gray area exists when you are going to remarry another Filipino in the Philippines in which case you may need to have your divorce recognized in the Philippines first. Another gray area exists in the case of a dual citizen of the Philippines.

7)       What happens to my children and our properties in case of an annulment?

Property relationships are terminated and the assets divided and/or liquidated by the court, unless the parties can come to an agreement regarding this with the approval of the court.

As far as custody is concerned, the general rule is joint custody by the husband and wife unless the children are below 7 years of age in which case presumptive custody is given to the mother with corresponding visitorial privileges for the father. The primary consideration however in custody issues is always the best interests of the child.




 8)  How much will an annulment cost me?

Ah, at last, the proverbial question. It depends of course on the lawyers that you choose, the venue of the case ( out of town cases usually entail more costs and expenses), the issues involved (property and custody issues), the psychologist selected to do the evaluation, among other considerations.

9)       When I file the petition , am I guaranteed to get an annulment?

No, after all there are no guarantees in life. Lawyers as we said earlier are not allowed to guarantee the outcome of cases and you should beware of those (even lawyers) who will promise you that you will win because unless the process is tainted or questionable then there is no way for him to know the outcome. Again, beware of fixers and scams.


10)   Assuming I obtain an annulment and I intend to marry again, what do I have to show as proof of the annulment?

Usually, most foreign embassies would require what is known as a Certiifcate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) from the National Statistics Office.  After a decision is reached in an annulment case, copies are sent to the Office of the Solicitor General, the local civil registrars of the place where the court is sitting and where the marriage contract was registered,  and of course to the parties themselves. After the lapse of 15 days  the decision becomes final and a Certificate of Finality is issued by the court which rendered the decision. This certificate is annotated on the back portion of the marriage contract on file with the local civil registrar where it was originally recorded and finally endorsed to the NSO which then issues the CENOMAR.

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. Me and my ex-wife filing for annulment. I need a good Lawyer and estimate how much it cost. We cam from camarines norte.

  2. do we need to go through a lot of investigations, I mean court hearing even of both of us, my husband and I. decided that we really want an annulment? thank you..

  3. i just want to inquire about the law of bigamy in phil,i need an advice.kasal po ako sa pinas at nagkaanak po kmi naghiwalay din po kmi after 1 yr ,then after 7yrs nagpakasal po ako sa japanese whithout annulment to my 1st marriage,na search ko po sa internet this is the case of bigamy,ayoko po makulong para sa mga anak ko,may pag asa pa bang maayos ito?pls help me po…thanx in advance

  4. gud am, i got married with my swiss husband here in manila after 1 year i found out my husband still merried with his 1st wife..
    sudenly ive no contact anymore with him for almost 3 months now no support as well..
    what would i do now?
    is my mariage is legal?
    how can i change my status again being single?
    i cannot afford annulment?

  5. My bf is married for 11 yrs with his wife. They have 2 kids. He told me that he was never happy with his married life as before they were married, he was forced by his wife’s family (shotgun wedding) to marry their daughter. He always told me his penitence and regret that he got married that day. When they got married, he was 20 turning 21 and his wife was 17 turning 18. His wife was pregnant that time that’s why he was forced to marry her. He was afraid to back out in the marriage as the girl’s family threatened to kill him if he don’t. For 11 yrs, His wife beats him up and shouts at him in front of people, showing disrespectful attitudes to him and his family. His family is scared from his wife as she is violent especially to my bf. Sometimes I see scratches on his body. Now, he asked me to consult from lawyers that will help him to file an annulment case. I hope the law can help us. We also want to start with our new life. Thank you so much!

  6. I am separated with my first husband for almost 10yrs. now. But not annuled. At present, we both have another family already. I got married in a muslim country (Dubai,UAE) with an emirates national man for 6 yrs. now. I want to file an annulment in philippines. My husband now is working to change my citizenship. Do i still need to file an annulment if we want to get married in philippines? Thanking u in advance! Joy

  7. i have been married for 18 years now. my husband went abroad in the year 2001 and has not been in contact since then. he has not fulfilled his obligations to his children and totally abandoned us. i have waited but always in vain. i have a boyfriend now who takes care of me and my kids and he wants to marry me. does having no contact with my husband for almost ten years now make our marriage void and null? can i get a free lawyer for this since i don’t have the money to do the process? hope to get a reply rom you. please send your reply to my email add. and if you have recommendations, please do so. thank you and have a nice day.

  8. hi at the moment im workin out how can i start my marriage to be annuled my wife and i are separated from early 2006 she got someone and now i found out she has a child in her boyfriend and i am here abroad will her having a child can be a ground for filing an annulment or whats the best ground because i can prove that she keeps cheating on me while im abroad thank you and kindly informed me

  9. My husband and I were separated for almost three years now.He is seeking for an annulment with the reason of psychological incapacity. Which I did not agree upon since it might be a reason of losing custody to my children? Also he told me that if I will agree verbally his attorney can process our annulment hassle free and without appearance in the court?

    If ever that they were able to process and the annulment was granted by the court given the fact that i did not agree and signed any paper is the annulment legal? Regarding on the financial support can I present to my husband an agreement of his continous support to my children ?

  10. Hi i married for almost 10 years now but i am not happy for my marriage im s tuck i want and annulmet how long would it take? how much?

  11. The girl with whom my nephew contracted a secret marriage in 1996 is a canadian-filipino citizen whom he met while in college. The never lived together as husband and wife under one roof because they were both pursuing their studies. He visits her at her parents house on weekends. In 2004 she left for the U.S. to work as a nurse. My nephew lost his (IT) job in 2003 and was not lucky enough to find another employer. From the time she left, she no longer communicates with him. Then, on October 2009, he found out that she married someone else, a Filipino guy, on December 26, 2008. My nephew secured a copy of the second marriage contract from NSO. Could this be a good legal ground to have his “secret” marriage annulled? Please advise us what to do. Will he still have to undergo psychological incapacity examination? Will very much appreciate hearing from you. God bless~

  12. question?

    i just wanted to inquire about the law from the pi, isnt true that the pi law if married person that is separated for more than 7 years or not living together, is there married void automatically? or still need to file annulment from pi because im us citizen and i didnt go back to pi more than 7yaears now.Wondering if our married still void or what? can i get married again but not in pi,
    here in us we both us citizen. another question? if the person i married from pi would file an adultery to me is that acceptable? then i want to go vacation in pi, can i still come back in us without a problem, is the pi airport will hold my paper for that? or what should i do i need an advice.


  13. do you have a strong case against your spouse if there was any attempt to kill you and two instances of suicide – does this somehow manifest psychological incapacity?

  14. I was forced to get married in the church because i was already pregnant. but no civil wedding.I am separated for more than 8 years now.I have found someone and would like to marry him.How do i get my church marriage annulment?

  15. Also he used to hit me, i did went to the medico legal but sadly i didn’t get the record because i was to scared that hewill found out about it. I’m too scared to go to the police as we all know that they won’t listen to me. My ex used to say that i don’t have money so no one will listen to me. He said he’s got the money so he will win. He also say that yes i lived in my own country but i’m nothing because i don’t have money. Remember money talks so no money your nothing in this country. I got the money so i am the king. I never forget that word he say to me. By the way his nationality is Swiss/German dual citizenship. The reason why i wrote more info abput him because i’ve read one of the commentors saying about her swiss husband still married to his 1st wife. So i’m not sure it might be my ex. Because he was planning to get married before with one of his girlfriend. My ex-husband called AXEL FRANK BERTSCHI, but in german law they are allowed to use their wife’s surname. So he called his name Axel Sanchez or Alex. Just in case anyone know him. please make any comments. He is TNT in this country. That’s why he keep moving to a different places in the Philippines. He never renew his visa or extend it. His reason is nobody cares because immigration don’t control any foreigner in the Philippines. That’s all for now, Thank you.

  16. Hi, i would like to inquire about annulment. I am married to a foreigner but my ex is nowhere to be found. But i’m sure he still in the Philippines. I am separated from my ex-husband for more than 8yrs now and never see each other for a long time. I would like to file an annulment. I heared different stories and i dont know which one to believe. The first time i got a lwayer was a fake one. And i did get one but until now i dont have any result so i guess i need to start all over agian. So i went to ask more info to another lawyer but he told me that it will cost me a lot of money. The cheaper way to get my annulment is to find my ex. I heard stories like after 7yrs of separation the marriage won’t be valid anymore. It’s automatically remove from the record. But i did ask about that case as welll to a different lawyer and she told me that it not true. I still need to file an anulment. So i am really disperate to find the right answers. Reason for our separation is his a playboy and always cheated on me. If witness is needed for cheating i can supply. It’s hard to do annulment specially to people who don’t have a budget for it. Please let me know about my situation if its really true if separated for more than 7yrs then marriage isn’t valid anymore specially without seeing other. And if i still need to file an annulment. Also in my case how much do you think might be the expensess needed. Thank you and hope i will hear anything from you. Thanks again and God Bless. Nita

  17. oh im sorry for double posting.. the psychologist/psychiatrist dont need to see the ex, right? which will make the case stronger? coz im really unsure if he’ll answer to the summons. and id wish to get my money’s worth when i file:(

  18. wow! ive been searching for several days and this is really good! i thought a husband’s no show will be grounds to dismiss the case. I was ever willing to contact my ex’s woman just to make sure that as im willing to spend, ex would at least be present when summoned.

    married for 2 years and been separated for 5 years. no properties and no kids. didn’t pursue any legal action bcoz of the costs.. i had no work and was taking a 2nd course back then. besides, the ex just texted me, no exaggerations, and never heard from him or saw him, although i know where he is. blamed myself.. found out at, he got someone pregnant. . couldnt even go to the malls coz im scared of bumping into them. weird huh..

    im 35 and never thought my life would turn around like this.. found someone whos gonna stick with me.. im even discouraging the guy bcoz im a complicated issue. he’s filipino but an american citizen. THANK YOU!! I’ll have my guy check your site:) much love and support! THANK YOU!!

  19. Hi, I want to know if it’s okay to still use the husband’s surname after an annulment or is it really necessary to have it changed? How about the kids’ surname? Will they be changed, too?

    ‘Coz my parent’s marriage is already annulled but my mom is still using my dad’s surname. but my dad already married someone else although that girl is not using my dad’s surname. Is it okay?

  20. I would like to know how to change my last name after annulment.
    My marriage is annulled already and I want to use my single name.
    Im currently working in the US.

  21. gud pm, i was married 7 years ago, and we were separated october of 2008, i left her in short. i want to file an annulment for us to settle down. i am currently living with another girl,. my ex-wife knows about it..i also asked my ex-wife that i want to file an annulment and she said its ok, but i dont have any evidences since it was only a chat…how much would it cost me?and if we agrre to have our annulment do we still have to go on a trial process?since it is already a mutual decision?
    than you hope you could answer me so i could start filing the annulment..
    thank you

  22. hi, i’m asking if being married to a foreigner is also the same procedure? my husband is cheating on me and he doesn’t denies it. is that reason enough for me to file annulment?

  23. hi,
    just wanted to inquire re: my plan annulment in the philippines. I applied the “dissolution of marriage” in california. but we originally married in the philippines. i am an american citizen when we had our marriage dissolved, but my husband is still filipino citizen. i am here in california and he was there in the philippines. i just wanted to know, what should i do now, coz i believed we do not have divorce in the phils? should they accept the “dissolution of marriage” that we had fr california? should we need to go the court for this?

  24. i really am very eager to know if i am allowed to file for annulment even if i have a case of bigamy?i recieved a sobpoena and had my appearnce in court but nobody from the complainant came…now i am here abroad,will i ever be allowed to file for annulment?please help me as i am very eager to start my application for annulment.

  25. Good day.

    I am seriously needing an advice and guidance.

    My lover and I are very much serious about each other. And planning on getting married. The problem is that his still married though they are separated for more than four years now. The wife cheats on him while he was on abroad working.

    He can pay for the annulment – the problem is I am an Iglesia. The law in our religion states that I can’t marry him even though his annulled from the first marriage.

    But can we get married – without the religion’s consent? Or what I’m trying to say is – is it possible for us to be married in the Philippine Law?

    Thank you, and truly waiting for a response to my questions and inquiries. You can contact me through my email at:

    Thank you so much and have a wonderful day ahead.



    1. Hello Freya:
      In our laws, there is the principle of separation of Church and State. This is very evident in matters involving marriages and family, where the acts of the Church or the State are not binding on the other. In your case, for instance, you and your boyfriend can legally get married after his annulment even if the annulment is not allowed by your religion. But it is important that he completes his annulment first before marrying you. Otherwise, he may be held liable for bigamy.

  26. just wanna ask. I just got married this last April 13, 2009 and my husband wants a seperation(annulment).What’s the easiest to do? He is in Canada(he is a frenc-canadian/canadian national).What should i do? Please advice me

  27. my friends wife wants to get annulment because he has cheated on her and has physically abused her. If he dont sign annulment papers can she still get annul?

  28. Can a husband and wife who documented an agreement of separation signed by husband and wife, the barangay officials and this document was notarized declare that they are free to love other persons (At wala na silang pakialaman kung ano man gawin nila sa buhay nila), Is this ok? What if the husband get relationship to other girl and this girl get pregnant, is this ok? Is the notarized document above dated 7 years ago can use as evidence as grounds for declaring a marriage null and void (since the husband and wife are separated for 7 years and counting, and did not perform their marital obligation)?

  29. what are the requirements needed to file for annulment on the grounds of bigamous marriage? does it take lesser time?

  30. gud am, i got married with my swiss husband here in manila after 1 year i found out my husband still merried with his 1st wife..
    sudenly ive no contact anymore with him for almost 3 months now no support as well..
    what would i do now?
    is my mariage is legal?
    how can i change my status again being single?
    i cannot afford annulment?


  31. 4.) The second step would be to write your marital history. This is a detailed narrative of your marriage from the time you met you spouse, a description of the start, middle portion, and end of your relationship, the event that precipitated your separation, with a focus on the personality of your spouse and what about him/her in your mind led to the break up of the relationship.

    — with the story, do i include when we have sex, or how often? I think it would not be appropriate if i include them in my stories. And, should the story be detailed?

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