CASE IN POINT | Effect if foreign divorce initiated by Filipino spouse

Both Dacasin v. Dacasin, 625 Phil. 494 [2010] and Van Dorn already recognized a foreign divorce decree that was initiated and obtained by the Filipino spouse and extended its legal effects on the issues of child custody and property relation, respectively.

The fact that a validly obtained foreign divorce initiated by the Filipino spouse can be recognized and given legal effects in the Philippines is implied from the rulings in Fujiki v. Marinay, et al., and Medina v. Koike.

In Fujiki, the Filipino wife, with the help of her first husband, who is a Japanese national, was able to obtain a judgment from Japan’s family court, which declared the marriage between her and her second husband, who is a Japanese national, void on the ground of bigamy. In resolving the issue of whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy, it was ruled:

Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Code judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.

There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromise the public record of his marriage. the interest derives from the substantive right of the spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances) his most intimate human relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts marriage. these property interests in marriage include the right to be supported “in keeping with the financial capacity of the family” and preserving the property regime of the marriage.

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, but a spouse’s right in a marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title III (“Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife”) of the Family Code. x x x (Rep. v. Manalo, G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018, Peralta, J).
Dean Albano is the proprietor & Bar Review Director of Albano Bar Review Center.