Legal Separation vs Annulment: Everything you REALLY want to know
The difference between Legal Separation vs Annulment is often confused.
Legal Separation is a more expensive, more difficult court case in the Philippines that gives Conjugal Property to the “innocent” spouse but doesn’t end the marriage.
On the other hand, Annulment ends a marriage and divides the Conjugal Property. It is also generally the only real option to end a marriage between 2 Filipinos.
In this article, I will go explain:
- Legal Separation vs Annulment: 2 Different cases
- Annulment: What it is, Annulment Grounds, and Process
- Legal Separation: What it is, Grounds, and Process
- Legal Separation vs Annulment: Which is the best case to file to end a marriage?
Legal Separation vs Annulment: 2 different cases and lots of Misconceptions
People mistakenly believe Legal Separation vs Annulment is cheaper and faster – but this is not true.
There are several other common misconceptions about Legal Separation vs Annulment:
- Legal Separation ends a marriage.
FALSE: Legal Separation doesn’t end a marriage – what it does is it legally allows spouses to stop living together as well as ending other conjugal duties. Only Annulment ends a marriage.
- Legal Separation vs Annulment is cheaper and faster.
FALSE: Legal Separation is more expensive and takes much longer because the spouses fight each other in court, making the Legal Separation Court proceeding very long.
- Legal Separation can be “converted” to Annulment.
FALSE: Legal Separation is a totally different case from Annulment and you cannot later on convert it to Annulment.
- I can get a Legal Separation in Barangay.
FALSE: Legal Separation is a court case and you cannot get a Legal Separation in Barangay.
- I can accomplish a Legal Separation Agreement Philippines and have it notarized and signed and that will end the marriage or marriage property.
FALSE: Only the courts can end the marriage and the conjugal property regime. A Legal Separation Agreement Philippines would not end the marriage or the Conjugal Property Regime.
People have a lot of these misconceptions because Annulment is expensive, or they haven’t talked to a lawyer.
However, Annulment vs Legal Separation is actually the cheaper and easier way to end a marriage between 2 Filipinos.
Annulment also helps you move forward and avoid future legal problems because you’ve done things the right way.
(I’ve seen people try a lot of things and end up with huge legal problems.)
Now that I’ve cleared up some misconceptions, I’ll explain what Annulment is and why it is really the best choice if you are serious about ending a marriage.
What is Annulment in the Philippines?
Annulment Philippines is a court case that ends a marriage between 2 Filipinos through the presentation of witnesses and a trial.
Annulment is generally the best way to end a marriage between 2 Filipinos.
Annulment vs Legal Separation is cheaper.
Annulment vs Legal Separation is faster.
And Annulment vs Legal Separation allows people to end the marriage and marry again – Legal Separation does not.
So, Filipinos mostly only have Annulment to end a marriage in the Philippines – there is usually no other way.
Unfortunately, people still find it expensive.
There are a few things that can help manage the expense:
- If you qualify, you can ask the PAO to file the case for you. Remember that the PAO is very overworked and that you will have to do all the coordination that a lawyer would do.
- Most will not qualify for the PAO. Instead, find a lawyer who will charge an acceptance fee and then bill you as work is done. This is much easier to pay.
- Avoid refiling by actually paying a good lawyer. Most of the Annulment Court Proceedings will be the lawyer’s responsibility, and he will be doing a lot of work for this.
Why is Annulment so expensive?
Well, Annulment Court Proceedings require a long trial.
A trial is a lot of work for a lawyer.
There are many court hearings, Judicial Affidavits and a lot of coordination.
(Compared to Divorce, which can be done without much of a trial in most countries, which is why Divorce can be cheaper. The Philippines does not have Divorce however. Still, Annulment vs Legal Separation is so much cheaper.)
What are Annulment Grounds in the Philippines?
Annulment Grounds in the Philippines are the lack of formal or essential requisites of marriage and deal with lack of capacity, consent or legal requirements (with the special addition of psychological incapacity).
Annulment is a layperson’s term to refer to either Nullity of Marriage or Annulment itself.
Grounds for Nullity of Marriage are:
- One was below 18
- Lack of marriage license, ceremony or authorized officiator such as a priest
- Bigamous marriages
- Mistaken identity
- Psychological Incapacity
- Incest and Marriages against Public Policy
Grounds for Annulment are:
- One was between 18 and 21
- One was of unsound mind
- Consent was obtained by fraud or force
- Physically incapable of consummation or has a sexually transmitted disease.
For some of these grounds, you can only file within a certain period.
For example, if you are between 18 and 21 when you married, you can only use that ground if you file before you were 18 or within 5 years of becoming 21.
Some grounds like psychological incapacity can be used at any time.
Now, when we compare the grounds for Annulment vs Legal Separation, we can see how different they are.
Annulment grounds deal with a lack of consent, capacity or formal requirements, plus Psychological Incapacity.
Legal separation grounds deal with abuses of behavior with in the marriage.
Still, the reason that most people file Annulment vs Legal Separation is that Annulment ends the marriage while Legal Separation does not. And fortunately, there is the ground of psychological incapacity which most can avail of if properly handled.
What is Annulment Process in the Philippines?
The Annulment Process in the Philippines includes a trial with testimony from your witnesses and yourself, with the additional requirements of lack of collusion and special emphasis on fulfilling residency requirements.
Let’s break this down.
Both cases require trial and testimony.
However, Annulment vs. Legal Separation has a few additional requirements.
First, the prosecutor must file a report stating whether or not there was collusion.
Collusion is when 2 spouses are acting together to falsify the grounds for Nullity of Marriage.
Collusion is strictly prohibited in Annulment vs Legal Separation, where the idea of Collusion doesn’t exist at all due to the nature of the case.
Second, Annulment places special stress on verifying residency.
Residency requirements dictate where a case is filed.
In Annulment, the court goes to extra lengths to verify residency of the parties in a special step to avoid having people shop around for a court they like. They require Sherrifs to check residency and require proof of residency in a greater degree.
Comparing Annulment vs Legal Separation, the stress of verifying the residency requirements is evident. This is in effect people used to try to shop around for a court that they liked, even if they didn’t live there. This effectively makes it much harder to file where you are not supposed to.
Third, the Solicitor General enters an Appearance.
This is mostly to ensure that Annulment is done a certain way and in compliance with the rules. Annulment vs Legal Separation has a Sol Gen appearance to ensure that there is no abuse.
Another big difference is the trial.
Legal Separation and Annulment both require trial.
However, in Annulment vs Legal Separation, the trial is easier, faster and less contentious because Annulment doesn’t pit the spouses against each other and doesn’t award all the Conjugal Property only to one spouse.
So, the Annulment process mainly differs in ensuring that there is no abuse and is actually an easier trial process when compared to Legal Separation.
What is Legal Separation in the Philippines?
Legal Separation is a court case that awards Conjugal Property to the innocent spouse and ends the obligation to live together but it doesn’t end the marriage.
Legal Separation is a very difficult, expensive, and long case because the case pit husband against wife. It requires that one be declared the innocent spouse and to him or her will go all the Conjugal Property.
Because all the Conjugal Property is at stake, people fight it out ferociously.
And because the judge may decide in either favor, this is a very risky case where you could lose all your Conjugal Property.
So, Legal Separation vs Annulment is a very difficult, very hard case and is not a “easier” way to ending a marriage.
What are the grounds for Legal Separation in the Philippines?
The grounds for Legal Separation are abuse, addiction, infidelity, and homosexuality among others. The full list is below.
- Physical violence or abuse
- Physical violence or pressure to make the petitioner change his religion or politics
- Attempt to get the petition or child into prostitution.
- Final judgment sentencing the respondent to more than six years of imprisonment
- Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism
- Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
- When the respondent has contracted a bigamous marriage
- Sexual infidelity or perversion
- Attempt on the life of petitioner by the respondent
- Abandonment for more than one year
You’ll need to file the Petition within 5 years from when the ground occurred.
As you can see, grounds of Legal Separation vs Annulment are very different.
Several of these grounds do not exist at all in Annulment.
What is the Legal Separation Process in the Philippines?
Legal Separation in the Philippines is a difficult and expensive case with a lot at stake, so the trial period is quite long with the presentation of many witnesses and a lot of legal pleadings.
Now, when Legal Separation vs Annulment is a very different court case.
I’ve already noted that both cases have Trial.
However, Legal Separation vs Annulment has a very long and difficult trial because the case structure is that the husband and wife fight for control of the Conjugal Property.
Thus, Legal Separation vs Annulment is a much harder case all in all.
Second, when filing Legal Separation there is a cooling off period of 6 months before anything can be done.
Legal separation has cooling off period of 6 months.
Lastly, Legal Separation vs Annulment doesn’t have the SolGen register an appearance. (It’s really in Annulment that people have tried to game the system).
In general, the process for Legal Separation vs Annulment is a much harder, more difficult case overall that only ends the Conjugal Property Regime but doesn’t end the marriage.
Legal Separation vs Annulment: The Bottomline
When comparing Legal Separation vs Annulment, it is clear that the easier, cheaper and faster case is Annulment.
And Annulment actually ends the marriage and the Conjugal Property Regime.
Legal Separation doesn’t end the marriage but instead only addresses the Conjugal Property Regime.
I know that people look for at Legal Separation vs Annulment because they are worried that Annulment is long, expensive and difficult.
But Annulment vs Legal Separation is actually faster, cheaper and easier because of how the case is structured.
If you are worried about cost, length of the process or the trial itself, talk to an Annulment lawyer in the Philippines so that your concerns are addressed – it will help you move forward and clear away any misconceptions you have.