File your annulment now, lawyer says

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A government lawyer advised Filipinos wanting to seek annulment from their spouse to do it soon.

In a forum held by members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines at the Philippine Consulate General on November 20, Angeli Albaña, who works at the office of the Solicitor General (OSG), said there was a directive ordering them to refrain from opposing any annulment petition.

“There was an office order in 2013 by the former Solicitor General at sabi niya hindi tayo mag-a-appeal masyado ng annulment. Ayaw niya iyan, kasi sa kanya separatre ang church at ang policies ng state. Hindi pa binabawi ang order na ito, so grab the chance,” said Albaña.

Besides annulment, she said there were two other ways to untangle a messy marriage – petition for declaration of nullity of marriage, and legal separation.

Albaña said in an annulment petition, the marriage remains valid, but in declaration of nullity of marriage, it is as if the marriage never existed because it was void from the beginning.

There are eight valid grounds to declare as null a marriage – one of the party was a minor at the time of marriage; the marriage was solemnized by a person without legal authority; absence of a valid marriage license; bigamous marriage; mistake as to the identity of a party; subsequent marriages; incestuous marriage;  and non-recording of requirements.

As for annulment, the lawyer said the ground used is “psychological incapacity”, which she said was the “equivalent of divorce in the Philippines.”

The OSG, Albaña said, looks into three grounds to oppose or appeal a petition for annulment  citing psychological incapacity – gravity; antecedent; and incurability.

“The psychological incapacity must be grave, hindi pwedeng quirks o topak-topak lang. It should also be existing even before the marriage, and that it can not be cured, kaya kailangan ng doktor sa annulment petition,” she added.

Legal separation is the third option, Albaña said.

She said many overseas Filipino workers, especially the women, choose this option because it would still bar the philandering spouse from getting married again.

In legal separation, the assets of the couple would be separated, but they remain married, so the philandering spouse would not be able to marry the third party.

“Sabi nga nila, ‘bakit ko siya bibigyan ng kalayaan para mapakasalan niya iyong babae niya? Ako na nga ang naperwisyo’,” Albaña said.