Here is a scenario – A USA Army Officer comes to the Philippines, meets a beautiful Filipina, and they legally marry in the Philippines. Following marriage, he applies for a spousal visa for her and they move to the USA. After 20 years of marriage, they decide to divorce while living in the United States. At the time of divorce, she was still a citizen of the Philippines having not ever naturalized as a US citizen.

The following are common questions about this couple’s scenario and the common Answers (right, wrong or myth):

  1. Their USA divorce is invalid because she is Filipina and the Philippines does not allow divorce, her only option is annulment.
  2. Their divorce is valid only in the USA.
  3. She can never remarry in the Philippines.
  4. If they have children, they will always have the same legal rights whether their parents divorce in the USA or not.

Now the TRUTH
  1. Because at the time of divorce, one of the parties was not a Philippines citizen, the divorce is valid even in the Philippines. However, because the wife was still a Philippines citizen at the time of the divorce, if she wants to remarry in the Philippines she must seek a Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment
    When is the judicial recognition of foreign judgment/ divorce decree applicable? It is applicable when one of the parties to the marriage is a foreigner; and, the foreigner obtains a valid divorce/ nullity of marriage in his/her country.
  2. The divorce and all associated separation agreements including property and child rights are valid.
  3. She may remarry if she gets an annulment or a Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgement.
  4. Myth, Parental rights may apply in certain conditions, but only when the two parties do not agree in writing during the divorce.

Ryan Barshop