We received a query on the options of a Filipina who was separated from her husband who is a foreign national. The question goes something like this: “I am married to a Canadian man who is living in the United States with a permanent residency. We were married in 2010 and after the marriage he went back to US. We communicated for a couple of months until such time that he stopped communicating and ignored my mails and calls. My question is how can I get out of this bondage?? Can I file a divorce but i am thinking he might not file in the States that he is married. Look Atty, this is unfair. I am stuck up on this bondage while my foreign husband I know is wandering.” Let’s have a general answer so others similarly situated don’t have to repeat the query.
In general, there are two legal options available to a Filipino who married a foreign national and who wants out:
1. If the foreign spouse validly secured a divorce decree abroad, the Filipino spouse can seek a judicial recognition of the foreign divorce decree under Article 26 of the Family Code. For the discussion on this matter, see Divorce in the Philippines and Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce Decree.
2. If the foreign spouse did not secure a divorce decree abroad (or if there is a divorce decree, the Filipino spouse cannot get it for one reason or another), the Filipino spouse could file a petition for annulment or declaration of nullity, as the case may be, in the Philippines. For the discussion on this subject, see the related discussions, starting with Annulment, Divorce and Legal Separation in the Philippines: Questions and Answers.