miriam_quiambao_divorce_annulment.jpgMiriam Quiambao’s single again—or the next best thing to it! Her divorce was granted in January, while her church annulment was granted in March. “I’m glad it’s all over,” the former beauty queen tells Female Network. “I’m about to file for civil annulment.”

Once the civil annulment is granted (which is likely to be just a matter of time, since the divorce was passed legally and the church annulment was obtained), the TV personality and actress will be free to marry again, if she chooses.

And yes, Quiambao says still believes in marriage, even after the experience she had with her former husband, Hong Kong–based Italian Claudio Rondinelli. Dolly Anne Carvajal, in her April 26 “Dollywood” column, quotes Quiambao: “I won’t stop trying again because I want to have a partner who will help me raise a family.”

But this Miss Universe runner-up won’t be rushing headlong into another romance. “One must love oneself fully before loving another,” Quiambao is quoted as saying. “Loving others must come from our overflow.”

But why go through the hassle and the expense to get an annulment—two annulments, if you count both the church and civil annulments—as well as a divorce, though? Isn’t one just as good as the other?

In the Philippines, the answer is no, since the bill proposing to legalize divorce in the country was never passed, and our legal system, like the Roman Catholic Church, does not recognize the validity of divorce. This makes getting your “Mrs.” changed to “Ms.” again a very expensive hassle—and it’s designed that way. After all, a marriage shouldn’t be too easy to dissolve.

If your marriage is on rocky ground, here are four factors you should consider before seeing your lawyer about getting your marriage declared null and void:


HERE, THERE, BUT NOT EVERYWHERE

Marriages solemnized outside the Philippines that are recognized as legal in the countries in which they were performed are, under most circumstances, regarded as valid in this country.

However, divorce is not acknowledged under Philippine law, so even if you get one abroad, you would still have to get your marriage declared void here.

The exception to this is when a divorce between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly obtained, enabling the alien spouse to remarry, which also enables the Filipino spouse to remarry if he or she chooses to—but this happens only after the foreign divorce is validated by a Philippine court, and only if the laws of the country in which the divorce was obtained do permit remarriage.

In addition, Filipino citizens cannot be the ones to pursue a divorce; the petitioner must be the foreign spouse. However, if you're a Filipino but are a citizen of a country that does allow divorce, you can file for divorce yourself if, and only if, you were already held that citizenship at the time of your marriage. You should note that, for foreign divorces obtained from countries in which English is not the lingua franca for legal papers, you may encounter some trouble getting this judicially recognized when you file the appropriate court case because this would still require translation.


ANNULMENT VS. A DECLARATION OF NULLITY

Marriages may be nullified by annulment or by a declaration of nullity; the former means that the marriage is considered valid, but there are grounds for nullifying it; the latter means that the marriage was void or invalid right from the beginning.


WHAT COUNTS, AND WHAT DOESN’T?

Grounds for a declaration of nullity of marriage are as follows:

(a) if one of the parties is a minor at the time of the marriage;

(b) if the person who solemnized the marriage was not legally authorized to do so;

(c) if there is no marriage license;

(d) if the marriage is bigamous or polygamous;

(e) if one party was mistaken about the identity of the other;

(f) if there was a failure to record and register the requirements of the annulment of a previous marriage;

(g) if the marriage is incestuous or contrary to public policy; and

(h) if one of the parties is psychologically incapable of understanding and carrying out marital obligations.

Although there have been those who have tried to get declarations of nullity by claiming psychological incapacity by virtue of irreconcilable differences, physical abuse, sexual infidelity or perversion, abandonment, and so forth; these do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity.


THINK OF THE CHILDREN

Acquiring a declaration of nullity may result in children from the null marriage being considered illegitimate.

Children from annullable marriages, where the marriage is considered valid until the point where it is annulled, are considered legitimate, as are children of marriages that have been voided with a declaration of nullity due to psychological incapacity or if the partition and distribution of the spouses’ properties and the delivery of the children’s presumptive legitimes from a previously annulled marriage was not registered or recorded properly.

However, children of marriages that are determined to be invalid from the beginning and do not fall under the circumstances mentioned above are considered illegitimate.


FN asks: How do you feel about the complicated processes needed to effect a divorce and annulment in the Philippines? Share your thoughts by answering this poll or leaving a comment below.


(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph. Many thanks to Atty. Judd L. Anastacio.)

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