You Cannot File a Second Annulment Case

A number of queries have reached us whether a married person can re-file a petition for annulment or declaration of nullity when the previous petition was previously dismissed. The first petition is usually based on psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code and the second petition is almost always based on a different ground.

This is precisely the issue resolved in the case of Mallion vs. Alcantara, 31 October 2006, G.R. No. 141528: Does a previous final judgment denying a petition for declaration of nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity bar a subsequent petition for declaration of nullity on the ground of lack of marriage license?

In the Mallion case, the husband filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage based on Article 36 but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence. The husband subsequently filed another case, this time based on the absence of marriage license, which is another ground for declaration of nullity.

The wife, unfortunately for the husband, actively opposed the petition, arguing that it should be dismissed on the ground of res judicata and forum shopping. The husband-petitioner countered that the two cases involve different facts and require different evidence.

For the layman, here’s how we could simplify the explanation. In the first petition, the husband made a categorical admission that the marriage was celebrated in accordance with law. This obviously means that the requirements for the solemnization of marriage — including the requisite marriage license — were complied with. The petitioner cannot be allowed to allege in the second petition that the marriage is defective because of the absence of a valid marriage license.

We could dig in and dwell on the reasons given by the Supreme Court. The decision in the Mallion case contains a straightforward discussion on res judicata, on the its dual aspects of “bar by prior judgment” (different cases, same cause of action) or “conclusiveness of judgment” (different cases, different causes of action, same issue), as well as what constitutes a cause of action.

The cause of action, Justice Azcuna wrote, is the nullity of the marriage — whether the ground used is psychological incapacity, lack of essential requisites like a marriage licenses or some other ground. The husband-petitioner was “simply invoking different grounds for the same cause of action.”

Res judicata is the effect or sanction for violating another provision of the Rules of Court, the prohibition on splitting a single cause of action. No two suits can be filed if based on the same cause of action. The simultaneous filing (litis pendentia) or subsequent filing (res judicata) of a similar case is a ground for dismissal.

If we accept the pronouncement in Mallion that the nullity of the marriage is the cause of action and if we follow the logic of the decision, the dismissal on the merits of a petition for annulment/declaration of nullity of marriage bars any and all subsequent petitions to nullify the same marriage, even if based on a different ground. It is equally true, given the reasoning in the Mallion case, that a second petition is no longer allowed even if filed by the other spouse. That is certainly troubling to many.

The moral of the story? Include all grounds in the petition for annulment or declaration of nullity. Otherwise, look for the argument why the decision in the Mallion does not apply to your case, or why certain pronouncements in the decision are mere obiter dictum, or why the doctrine must be applied pro hac vice. Discuss this with your lawyer.

12 comments

  1. good pm po attorney, pahelp na man po kung ano ang gagawin ko gusto ko na pong magpa anull kasi wala na po kaming naramdaman sa isat isa.at magkano po

  2. hi atty,ask ko lang po if paanu po ang gagawin i am a divorce woman i was married american guy here in phil. then after one month married we filling divorce decree was issued by guam ,and we got the final decree in 2010 until now i never seen him again and im going to usa to marry,makapagpakasal po ba ako dun sa us with divorce decree lang?

    please response atty;

    thank u so much this agnes from cebu

  3. Hello po. What if the first petition for declaration of nullity was withdrawn but summons received po? Still not allowed?

    Thanks po.

  4. Sir paano po ba kung na pending yung first filing for annulment can we re-apply again for that same case? And meron po ba alternatives solution for that pending papers?

  5. Atty naka pending po yung annulment ng kaibigan ko sa nso main branch last process na po yung papers niya. Kay lang po ang issue po kasi kung bakit d mailabas yung papers dahil na ka suspension po yung judge na pumirma ng mga papers niya..meron po bang alternatives or re apply po ba pwede?

  6. Atty wala po bang magagawa ang batas para mapagaan.ang grounds hirap na hirap na po ako atty ginigipit po ako nung hayup kong x hindi nman po.makatarungan yun gusto ko na pong makalaya maka move on sa buhay ko pero hindi ko magawa dahil sa mga magkakasalungat at hipokritong batas ng pilipinas pls po tulungan nyu po ako hirap na hirap na po ako pangalawang file ko na po wala na po akong pera minsan gusto ko ng kitilin ang buhay ko at ng matapus na

  7. Hi Atty,good morning po,,dismissed na yong case po naming but not granted.balak parin nang asawa ko mag refile for second time around kasi mayaman sya…at may ka live in na sya iba ngayon at may anak narin sila ano po ang dapat kung gawin…

  8. Good Day Atty.,
    Is there anyway to widraw my annulment sa pinas. Since I started July 2011 up to now pending pa rin, almost paid na yun but my lawyer are not functioning well, lots of unreasonabledelays, now that Im here in Canada ay d daw aq nakikipagcooperate. He said he will archive yun case pra icontinous paguwi q sa pinas. But i dont want to waste my money from his poor service.
    Kindly need your advice.
    Thank you

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