Do you have serious problems with your life partner? Do you want to get married to another person in the future for your happiness? Then perhaps, you should know how to file for an annulment.
Since divorce is not yet legal here in the Philippines, and legal separation does not allow the separated partners to get married again, your last recourse may be an annulment. Annulment, however, is one of the most complicated, tedious, and costly processes.
In this guide, we have tried to simplify the terms and procedures involved so that you can easily understand the process on how to file for an annulment. Also, for you and your partner to have a successful annulment, you should first know what legal grounds you can file for a Declaration of Nullity or a Petition for Annulment of Marriage.
Grounds for Annulment:
No Parental Consent
If either of you is aged between 18 and 21 years old, and without consent of either parent, guardian, or a substitute parent, you can file for an annulment. After the age of 21, you can only file the petition within five (5) years.
Psychological Incapacity or Mental Illness
If either of the two is mentally incapacitated during the time of their marriage, an annulment can be filed. However, if the couple has lived together after the sound judgement was restored, then a petition may not be valid.
Force, intimidation, or undue influence (Shotgun Marriage)
If the consent of any of the parties was acquired through intimidation, force, or undue influence, an annulment can be filed. The petition, however, may not be valid if, despite this, the couple have cohabited as husband and wife. You can only file a petition within five (5) years after a “shotgun marriage”.
Impotence or incapability of consummating the marriage
If either of the two is physically incapable of engaging in sex and if the said impotence is deemed incurable, then a petition can be filed. You can file within the first five (5) years of marriage.
Sexual Transmitted Disease (STD)
If either of the parties was deemed to have serious STDs and was found to be incurable at the time of their marriage, a petition can be filed within the five (5) years of marriage.
An annulment can be filed if the approval of any of the parties was acquired through fraud. You have five (5) years to file your petition after the discovery of fraud. However, if you have lived together as husband and wife even though you had full knowledge of the fraud, your petition may be denied.
There are so many types of fraud, but let us discuss the common ones that many couples may have experienced.
Examples of fraud that serve as grounds for annulment include the following:
- No confession of either party regarding a crime of moral turpitude
- If the wife has concealed that she got pregnant by another man other than her husband at the time of marriage
- If either of the involved parties has concealed that he or she was afflicted by a sexually transmitted disease at the time of marriage
- If either of the parties did not reveal drug or alcohol addiction at the time of marriage
- If either of the parties did not reveal homosexuality or lesbianism at the time of marriage
Some of the invalid grounds for annulment are:
- Irreconcilable differences
Now, if you still want an annulment, see the steps below.
Steps for Annulment:
Step 1: Learn more about annulment
It is good to have prior knowledge of the annulment process here in the Philippines. There are many available materials about annulment that you can access, either online or from your lawyer’s office. You can also ask help from people who have undergone annulment procedures.
Step 2: Choosing your lawyer
Choose a lawyer that specializes in family/child custody and property division services. By choosing the right lawyer, you may have a higher chance of succeeding. You should also choose a lawyer who suits your financial budget and timeframe.
Step 3: Psychologist and lawyer evaluation
Here in the Philippines, most annulled cases are done with the grounds of mental incapacity. So, you may be interviewed by your preferred lawyer and psychologist.
Your petition will be based on the results of your interviews and assessments by the psychologist if your ground for annulment is psychological incapacity.
Step 4: Creating your petition
Now, your attorney will proceed with a draft of your petition based on the written psychological evaluation of your psychologist. You will need to approve the draft, correct any inaccuracies and make sure it doesn’t contain any jeopardizing content that will hinder its success. The petition must be signed under oath by the petitioner and the lawyer.
Step 5: Waiting for the court
Your petition will then be submitted to the Regional Trial Court, specifically in the Family Court Branch.
The court will give summons personally to the two parties involved. If the opposite party cannot be located, the court will publish the summons in a newspaper. Also, the Public Prosecutor will submit an Investigative Report to make sure that there is no collusion between the spouses.
Step 6: Pre-trial
Your lawyer will prepare you and your witnesses’ summarized claims and evidence. Also, the court hearings will be scheduled.
Step 7: The trial
During the trial, your lawyer will present your case in court. This may take multiple scheduled hearings.
Step 8: The decision
Assuming your annulment was granted, you can submit the court decision to the civil registrar who has solemnized your marriage, so that you can change your marital status.
The annulment process may take years, but you can enjoy being single afterwards, or even remarry.