DSLaw Remedial Law Series

HOW CAN MY FOREIGN DIVORCE DECREE BE RECOGNIZED IN THE PHILIPPINES? [Understanding the Recognition of Foreign Divorce in the Philippines]*

After enduring years of tumultuous marriage, Maria, a Filipino citizen, filed for divorce against her Japanese spouse, Kota. Maria’s husand did not oppose it because under Japanese law a grant of divorce will capacitate him to remarry. Maria’s divorce petition was later granted by the Japanese court with finality.

Wanting to fully move on from her heartbreak, Maria decides to start her life anew in her homeland. She now asks: how can my foreign divorce be recognized in the Philippines?

In Garcia v. Recio, the Court established the principle that before a foreign divorce decree is recognized in the Philippines, a separate action must be instituted for that purpose. Courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and foreign judgments; thus, our laws require that the divorce decree and the national law of the foreign spouse must be pleaded and proved like any other fact before trial courts[1]. Thus, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, the Court explained that:

The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, “no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country.” This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the alien’s applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense[2].

Consequently, judicial recognition of a foreign divorce requires that the national law of the foreign spouse and the divorce decree be pleaded and proved as a fact before the Regional Trial Court. The Filipino spouse may be granted the capacity to remarry once our courts find that the foreign divorce was validly obtained by the foreign spouse according to his or her national law, and that the foreign spouse’s national law considers the dissolution of the marital relationship to be absolute [3].

[1] G.R. No. 138322, 418 Phil. 723, 725 (2001).

[2] G.R. No. 186571, 642 Phil. 420, 432 (2010).

[3] Racho v. Tanaka, G.R. No. 199515, (2018).

*About the Author: DSLaw’s Of Counsel Atty. Severo C. Madrona Jr., LL.M., Ph.D is the Dean and a Professor of the College of Law, City University of Pasay. He is also a published author and concurrently a professorial lecturer teaching law, history and public administration subjects in various universities such as the University of the Philippines Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University, to name a few. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: DS Law Family Series: Can I File For Divorce Abroad If I am a Filipino Citizen?

How Can We Help?

At Delloro & Saulog Law Offices, we can assist you in the preparation of the Petition for Recognition of the Foreign Divorce.

We can facilitate the authentication and certification of the “divorce decree” and the “official law on divorce” of the foreign country where the divorce was obtained by either party pursuant to Rule 132, Section 24 of the Rules of Court.

Thereafter, we can represent you in filing the petition before the trial court.

For more information on how we can help you, book a consultation with us below.

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