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Divorce decree jointly obtained by spouses abroad

Is a divorce decree jointly obtained recognizable here in the Philippines?

Please note the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Helen Bayog-Saito, et. al., GR. No. 247297, 17 August 2022, penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting, where the Honorable Supreme Court declared that a foreign divorce decree may be recognized here in the Philippines, although the divorce decree was jointly obtained by the spouses abroad, viz:

"In the landmark case of Republic of the Philippines v. Manalo (Manalo), the Court en banc clarified the scope of paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code to even cover instances where the divorce decree is obtained solely by the Filipino spouse. In subsequent cases, the Court noted that the prohibition against Filipinos participating in divorce proceedings will not protect our own nationals. Thus, the Court held that it does not matter if it is the Filipino spouse who acquired the decree of divorce abroad.

"Based on a clear and plain reading of the provision, it only requires that there be a divorce validly obtained abroad. The letter of the law does not demand that the alien spouse should be the one who initiated the proceeding wherein the divorce decree was granted. It does not distinguish whether the Filipino spouse is the petitioner or the respondent in the foreign divorce proceeding. The Court is bound by the words of the statute; neither can we put words in the mouths of the lawmakers. 'The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to have used words advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute.'

"To reiterate, the purpose of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after a foreign divorce decree that is effective in the country where it was rendered, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. The provision is a corrective measure to address an anomaly where the Filipino spouse is tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country.

"In the process of judicial recognition of foreign divorce decree, the rules provide that before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by the court, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. Specifically, for Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Revised Rules of Court." (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Following the Supreme Court's foregoing pronouncement, the divorce decree jointly agreed to and obtained abroad under the national law of your ex-partner may be recognized here in the Philippines, provided that you are able to prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it.

Corollary thereto, in the above-cited case, the Filipino spouse therein presented a Divorce Certificate, the Notification of Divorce, the Acceptance thereof, and the record of the family register of the alien spouse, all of which are duly authenticated, as well as the duly authenticated pertinent laws of the national country of the alien spouse. You may secure these requirements, or their equivalent, in the place where you obtained your divorce should you decide to have your divorce recognized in our country.

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