There were a lot of questions on the first FAQ, some of which were not answered due to certain prohibitions (see Part 1 or Part 3). For information purposes, we added Part II, wherein we discussed other common issues relating to the topic on annulment and divorce. These issues include the role of the Solicitor General, the duration and costs of annulment proceedings, and where to seek free legal aid.
Should I seek an annulment?
This is a personal decision that should not be taken lightly. While divorce is not allowed in the Philippines, the fact that the law provides for annulment means that there are meritorious instances that would justify the annulment of marriage.
What specifically is the role of the Solicitor General in the process of annulment? Is it true that the SolGen is often the source of delay?
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene and take part in the proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages before the RTC and on appeal to higher courts.The Solicitor General is the principal law officer and legal defender of the land. His intervention in the proceedings ensures that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or suppression of evidence. This is the express pronouncement of the Supreme Court. The SolGen may or may not appeal an annulment decision, and such decision is within its authority. In other words, it’s not true, and unfair to say, that the SolGen is the cause of delay.
How long does an annulment process usually take?
The entire process could take less than a year or, if you’re unfortunate, years. There are so many factors that could delay the proceedings. You and your lawyer must be vigilant in making sure that the proceedings go smoothly.
How much does it usually cost?
This is a difficult question, primarily because there are so many variations. If you have absolutely limited resources, you could file the petition as a pauper litigant (for filing fees) and seek free legal aid (discussed below). If you engage the services of a private lawyer, the entire process may cost you at least Fifty Thousand Pesos (PhP50,000).
I have a limited amount of money. Where can I seek legal aid?
There are certain institutions where you could seek free legal assistance. Start with the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), although they may or may not accept your case, depending on their load (they’re usually overloaded with cases). The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and certain law schools, provide free legal aid. Remember, however, that your request may be denied because there are other important cases handled by these institutions.
How can I verify if my lawyer really filed the petition in court or if a decision was really issued? Can I obtain a copy of the decision?
You may ask your lawyer to provide you with a copy of all documents (motions, pleadings, orders, decisions, etc.) relating to your case. The photocopying cost, of course, will be charged to you. In any case, you could always request to photocopy the record with the court where the petition was filed.
If there’s already a decision annulling my marriage, but the decision is appealed by the Office of the Solicitor General, is it ok to remarry?
No. Unless and until the decision in your favor becomes final and executory (no motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed) and the other requisites have been complied with, you can’t remarry.
If there’s already a divorce validly secured abroad (by the foreigner-spouse or the Filipino spouse who became a foreign citizen, losing his/her Filipino citizenship in the process), can the Filipino spouse immediately remarry?
No. For purposes of re-marriage, the divorce validly secured abroad is not automatically recognized here in the Philippines. The foreign divorce decree must be recognized here in the Philippines; a process which may only be done through the courts.