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Legal 411 by Alona C. Mercado

How a Canadian divorce

is recognized in the Philippines

by Francesco Britanico

There is still no general divorce law in the Philippines, but a Canadian divorce can be legally recognized there if either spouse was not a Filipino at the time of the divorce.

Citizenship at the time of the divorce is what matters. Even if the couple were both Filipinos when they married, the divorce can be recognized in the Philippines if at least one of them was not a Filipino citizen when it was granted.

The divorce can be recognized regardless of who filed for it. So long as one of them was not a Filipino when it occurred, it does not matter if the divorce was initiated by either the Canadian or the Filipino spouse.

How can it be recognized?

A case to recognize the Canadian divorce is filed with a court in the Philippines.

What will the court require?

The case is not going to relitigate the divorce that already became final in Canada. Rather, this is simply a case to prove to the Philippine court that a valid divorce took place in Canada.

This is done by presenting sworn and authenticated documents to the Philippine court. Aside from the divorce documents themselves, the applicant should sign documents prepared for the recognition case. These include the Petition for the recognition of the divorce and an Affidavit to be submitted to the Philippine court. The authenticated Canadian Divorce Act also will also have to be presented. Since they will be used in a Philippine court, the documents from Canada must first be authenticated by the Philippine Consulate.

These documents can then be shipped to the Philippines. With these, your lawyer can file the case in court even while you are in Canada.

It is preferable that the applicant testify to these documents at the trial. Since the onset of the pandemic, Philippine courts have adopted video conference court hearings that allow testimony to be received remotely. (At the time of this writing, the rules for remote video testimony from abroad are being worked out between the courts and the Department of Foreign Affairs.)

The court process usually takes about a year or a year and half until a court decision is issued, although the pandemic also affects this timeline.

How is recognition granted?

Once the Canadian divorce is proven, the court will issue a decision recognizing it under Philippine law. The court will order the local and national civil registrar to annotate the Philippine marriage record to reflect the Canadian divorce.

Recognition of the divorce will allow the Filipino to remarry under Philippine law. It also clarifies property and inheritance rights between ex-spouses and allows a Filipina to revert to her maiden name on her Philippine passport.

Atty. Francesco Britanico is a lawyer in the Philippines. His law firm’s website is www.lawyerphilippines.org and he can also be reached at francesco.britanico@lawyerphilippines.org.

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