I Don’t Like Talking About Divorce
Nobody really wants to go into talking about a divorce unless they absolutely have to.
And I certainly don’t want to talk about divorce as if it were some easy, quick solution to issues and disagreements that husbands and wives ought to be able to work out between them.
But one thing for is certain, some times there are issues that just can not be worked out. In legal terms, for whatever reason, the term is the marriage is “irretrievably Broken”.
When You Need One, You need One
That specific “Broken” description, or words that mean the same, are in the language of every state’s laws governing divorce in the USA, and some other countries as well … specifically those states who allow what is commonly known as “no fault” divorce.
In those states and countries, one or both parties to the marriage do not have to show “fault” (infidelity, mental or physical cruelty, etc.) on the part of the other party. The state agrees that if either (or both in some states) party will agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the state will grant a divorce and legally dissolve the marriage, leaving both partners free and able to marry another, if they wish.
Obviously to most of you, the Philippines is not one of the countries who allow “no fault” divorces. In fact (except for a certain procedure which affects only those of the Islamic faith) there is NO DIVORCE in the Philippines.
Now if a US citizen is married to a Filipino citizen, the Filipino can never seek a divorce in the Philippines. She or he can seek a “legal annulment”, which is also a way to dissolve the marriage, but it is far from a “no fault” issue, and it costs a lot and often takes years to happen. Also, since one party must show proof of fault on the part of the other, some cases for annulment do not “prosper”. You might spend years and thousands of dollars in court and wind up with the case denied.
The Filipino can seek a divorce in some other jurisdiction, if she or he meets the rules established by that jurisdiction, but the problem for the vast majority of Philippine citizens is, they can’t GET under the jurisdiction of another nation … visa requirements are typically the reason.
If that Filipino DOES get to a jurisdiction which allows divorce and successfully receives a grant of dissolution of marriage there, guess what? She or he is still not free to marry in the Philippines. The law of the Philippines will not honor a divorce which has been filed by a Philippine citizen, no matter what.
Those of us who are NOT Filipinos though have much more leeway. Let’s say, for example, that we are US citizens, as many of you reading this are.
Well no problem then. We can travel to a US state (or the District of Columbia) and file for a divorce there. If the foreigner in a foreigner/Filipino marriage files for a divorce, the Filipino partner may then petition the court of the Philippines to recognize the divorce and thus free her or himself in that manner.
How Easy Will a US No Fault Divorce Be?
Answer is, “It Depends”. There are actually 50 different divorce laws in the USA, 51 counting DC, and virtually every one of them is different.
Some states allow very easy “no fault” determinations, some others still apply much more strict standards.
Some US states allow just one party to be present in the state and file the divorce, others make it a requirement that both parties be under the control of the state before a divorce can be granted.
Residency Is Often An Issue
In all cases, there are residency requirements for one or both of the parties, and they can be as long as 6 months or a year.
So even though the chances of a legal divorce are much better for a non-Filipino, it is no “piece of cake” to get a US divorce.
And if one is dealing with a state with residency requirements … especially if the other party in the marriage has to be a resident as well, it can be a very difficult thing to get done.
An Alternative Is Available
There is a US (and other nationalities as well) solution, though, just a few hours away from the Philippines.
Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States. In addition to a very lenient “no fault” divorce law, Guam is very liberal regarding residency requirements.
- Only one parties to the marriage must be a Guam resident… thus no need for the presence of a party who can’t get a US visa.
- Only 7 days “in country” required to establish legal residency.
- No requirement that either party be a Guamanian or a US citizen … any nationality may be granted a divorce if they meet Guam’s other requirements.
Is It Legal?
(author’s. note: “This would be a good time to insert a reminder here. I am not an attorney and this is all personal opinion, not legal advice. If you need a legal professional, please use one. Thanks.)
Now, of course I can hear a lot of you saying, “Whoa, that’s not possible. This divorce must not be legal, maybe it is similar to some of those Dominican “quickie divorces” I have read about which aren’t legal in all US States.
Well I can assure you that unlike a divorce obtained in some foreign county like the Dominican Republic, etc., a divorce legally granted by Guam is absolutely legal in all 50 US states .. it is, after all, granted by a US court, under the authority of the US Congress. See:
Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish American War in 1898. The Guam government and courts system was established by an act of the U.S. Congress. A divorce granted by a Guam court, including inclusive property and custody agreements, is recognized by the 50 United States and other jurisdictions of the United States. See U.S. Code, Title 28 §1738. Guam courts will grant a divorce to citizens of countries other than the United States who otherwise satisfy requirements described below; however, non United Sates residents should consult the laws of their country to determine if a U.S. divorce will be recognized.
(ed. note, please don’t write and ask me if a divorce from Guam would be recognized in Australia, the UK or one of the other 197 or so countries in the world. You need to do your own research on that. It may very well be recognized where you call “home”, then again, it may not)
So How Much Would One Of These “Magic” Guamanian Divorces Cost?
The basic uncontested no-fault divorce in Guam starts at about $1,500 USD, not counting the cost to fly to Guam and spend a week at some beach resort (or some cheaper hotel). I have certainly heard of people getting cheaper divorces in the USA, but I know that in my own case, as an example, completely uncontested in Colorado, my ex-wife and I together spent nearly $25,000 USD by the time everything was settled. $1500 would have sounded pretty good to me at the time.