I’ve written a lot on this subject in the past, and I have to admit my carefully chosen title for this article is probably “wishful” thinking”.
My guess is there will never be an end to this story … I just wish there was.
The Philippines is unique with regard to almost all the known countries of the world .. that is, they do not allow divorce.
(Ed Note; Except for certain specific cases involving members of the Islamic Faith, which we will not get into here. be very careful about charlatans and other unsound legal and religious advice in the practice and application of Shari’a Law in the Philippines, please. Also, please remember I am not a lawyer and this is NOT legal advice, personal opinion only)
Now Back on Track.
There is no divorce in the Philippines. Read and repeat until you believe it. Why? because it’s true.
There is, however divorce in all the other countries of the world, except The Vatican City.
The government of the Philippines recognizes legal divorces obtained from other jurisdictions, with one very specific exception.
The Philippines recognizes divorces filed by and granted to foreign nationals only. Nut it does NOT recognize divorces granted to applicants who are citizens of the Philippines.
Sounds a Bit Crazy?
Yes, in my opinion it does. Here’s why.
John (let’s say he is a US citizen) marries Mary, a citizen of the Philippines.
Immediately John and Mary are legally married under the laws of both countries. No real question at all.
Now let’s say John files for a divorce from Mary and a court grants the divorce – it has to be a non-Philippines court by the way since there is no divorce in the Philippines, remember?
So far as the USA or any other country INCUDING the Philippines, John is now legally divorced and free to marry … in any country.
But Mary? Well she really doesn’t have the same rights as John. No matter where she lives and who granted the divorce, Mary is STILL legally married according to Philippine Law.
Does this make you head hurt?
Don’t worry, it makes mine hurt too. How can Mary be legally divorced in one country and yet still legally married in the Philippines? Don’t ask me, really, that’s the way it is.
Does Mary have any recourse?
Yes, if John filed for the divorce, Mary can file a case with the Philippines courts to recognize the foreigner-obtained divorce. If her case succeeds, she can then be legally free to marry anyone else, foreigner or Filipino who is also legally free to marry.
But Here’s What Often Happens:
A person trapped under this slightly strange law may just decide to forget about the first marriage … especially if the first spouse doesn’t seem to care. It’s just hard, and time consuming and expensive to try to comply with the strange martial laws here. It’s so much easier to just ignore the first marriage. But it can be a really bad mistake.
(Much more about this issue here: Can I Get Married Even If I Am Already Married?)
After all, if a couple goes and files for a marriage license, and it’s granted, there must be no problem, right?
Here’s what happened just recently as reported to me direct from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration files:
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned foreigners against practicing polygamy, or they will be expelled and banned from re-entering the Philippines.
BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. issued the warning after immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) arrested a Chinese woman who was blacklisted by the BI for marrying a male compatriot (another foreigner) who is previously married to a Filipina.
Ana Shi Wu, 28, was barred from boarding her China Southern Airlines flight to Xiamen, China and was instead brought to the BI jail in Bicutan, Taguig.
(She wasn’t even allowed to run away from the situation)
David said the woman will undergo deportation proceedings as she had been illegally staying in the country since the BI revoked her permanent resident visa last April 25.
“Let this serve as a warning to other foreigners. You lose the privilege to stay in the country if you enter into bigamous marriage,(my emphasis)” the BI chief said.
He explained that the Philippine immigration act does not only discourage polygamy, but also prohibits the entry of aliens who practice or advocates it. It was learned that Wu and her Chinese husband Lin Hua Bin became permanent residents here after they applied for the BI’s alien social integration program in 1996.
Their visas, however, were canceled after a complaint for undesirability was filed against the couple by Lin’s estranged Filipina wife whom he had married prior to living with his Chinese wife. Investigation later revealed that Lin had entered into civil marriages with the two women, thus proving the charge that he committed bigamy. (Again, my emphasis. Remember that expression regarding Hell having no fury as a woman scorned? Works with scorned men, too)
To legally be married in the Philippines, both parties must be free to marry at the beginning. The fact that one party was married to a Philippine citizen and then chose to marry another caused a really big problem. Jail and deportation on a charge of “undesirability”. Not something I would want on my record.
Trust Me, both parties should be free to marry, even if you think the law won’t find out .. all it takes is for the first spouse to get pissed and make a complaint. My advice, stay legal.