When we decide to get married, we thought we found a perfect match, or shall we say "match made in heaven" We also thought we found our forever and our marriage will last until our last breath. But there are times we realize that our thought was wrong and now seeking a legal remedy to end our union with our spouse.
If you are in the Philippines, we can say it is much easier to file for annulment of marriage since you can do it personally, compare to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are working outside the country.
But it is still possible for OFWs to file a petition for annulment of marriage even they are working abroad.
(WATCH:annulment of marriage FOR OFW)
Here are “steps” or suggestions in deciding whether to end your "forever" or not.
1. Make sure it is your last resort. Before deciding to seek for annulment, ask yourself first, have you try all options to make your marriage work like counseling? If you made up your mind, weigh all your options.
2. Hire a lawyer. If you already made your decision to push through the annulment process. You will need a lawyer, preferably somebody who specializes in the annulment of marriage. Your lawyer will inform you of the possible grounds you can use to proceed with the annulment process. Your lawyer will represent you in the Philippines. Expert lawyers for annulment can guide you through the entire process (drafting and filing of the petition, pre-trial, trial proper). This process can be emotionally draining so you will need the help of a trustworthy lawyer to guide you through.
3. Realize that it will cost you. They said, "getting out of marriage is sometimes more expensive than getting into one." You need to prepare enough sum of money for your expenses including payment for your lawyer or counsel, filing fees, professional fees for the psychiatrist or psychologist (if the ground is psychological incapacity), etc. The cost may vary depending on your chosen law firm or lawyer, but it is estimated to cost you around P300,000 to half million pesos.
4. Prepare the historical narrative of your relationship or marital history. This is the detailed narrative of your marriage. This includes the details beginning from the time you meet your spouse up to the events that led to the separation. Details preferably include the personality of your spouse particularly the characters and behaviors that fueled the breakup of the marriage.
5. Custody of children. As much as possible discuss earlier and agree with your spouse the custody of children, visitation rights, property arrangement, and support.Custody over children and separation of properties in annulment are among the most bitter issues in annulment.
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6. Make sure to invoke a valid ground. What're your basis for annulment? Make sure it is sufficient to go through the procedure.
7. Get a psychological evaluation. Being psychologically incapacitated of one party is a common grounds for annulment. You can hire or your lawyer can recommend a psychologist or a psychiatrist who will do the evaluation and serve as a witness in court.This process may include tests and interviews. Given that you are based abroad, the evaluation may be done via email and the interview may also be done online.
(WATCH:Annulment of Marriage in the Philippines (based on Psychological Incapacity)
What are the grounds for annulment?
According to Article 45 of The Family Code of the Philippines, there are 6 legal grounds for the annulment of a marriage:
- lack of parental consent (if either party is at least 18 but below 21 years old)
- psychological incapacity
- consent for marriage obtained by force, intimidation, or undue influence
- impotence / physical incapability of consummating the marriage
- serious sexually transmitted disease
8. Preparation and filing of the petition. The petition may be filed, at the option of the spouse who filed it (called the “petitioner”), in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the other spouse (called the “respondent”) resides for the last 6 months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he/she may be found in the Philippines.
An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) may file the petition even while abroad. The signing of the petition can take place in the presence of a Philippine consul with authority to take oaths. The signed and authenticated documents are then sent to the Philippines for filing.
9. Service of Summons. It means, informing the respondents through notice. If the respondents cannot be located at the given address, service of summons may be done by publication. This is crucial because the court cannot validly proceed without service of summons.
10. Wait for the response of your spouse. The respondent must answer within 15 days from service of summons or within 30 days from the last issue of publication in case of service of summons by publication.
11. Pre-trial conference. A pre-trial conference will be set by the court. Remember that the case may be dismissed if your counsel or an authorized representative fails to give a valid excuse for your non-appearance.
12. Trial. In this stage, the ground for annulment is proved and opposed.
13. Decision. After the trial proper, the court renders its decision whether granting or dismissing the petition. It becomes final upon the expiration of 15 days from notice to both parties.
15. Appeal. The aggrieved party or Solicitor General may appeal from the decision within 15 days from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration or a new trial.
This article is filed under: Filipino Divorce Lawyer, Divorce In The Philippines, Annulment In The Philippines, Legal Separation In The Philippines, Annulment Lawyers Philippines