A Filipino must be 18 years old to marry.
If you marry before reaching this a
ge, your union is void.
If you marry between 18 to 21, you must get your parent’s permission before the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) can give you a Marriage License and submit proof of this consent.
Parental consent or a notarized Affidavit of Parental Consent is required if you are planning to marry when you are between 18 and 21 years old. In its absence, the marriage is still valid unless ended in 5 years.
For both situations, you will still have to file a court case called Annulment BEFORE you can remarry.
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What is the cost for filing an annulment
The cost for filing an annulment is at least Php 350,000 and up though this can increase or decrease depending on the location, the grounds and the situation.
Annulments will have the below fees:
· Lawyer’s fees
· Document fees for photocopying, notarization, service to respondents
· Court fees such as filing fees, service fees
· Publication, depending on the situation
· Cost to get evidence
· Psychologist, if needed
So many clients ask us why annulment is so expensive in the Philippines.
It is because the Philippines requires a full blown court case with a trial, witnesses, a collusion investigation, and witnesses.
It is because of all these hearings and all the requirements that must be submitted that the cost is so much more expensive than in other countries.
Even if divorce passes in the Philippines, the cost would not significantly change unless they remove the requirement for a full court case and make evidence standards lower.
Why are annulments denied?
Annulments can be denied on several grounds.
To have a successful annulment in the Philippines, you need to do the following to avoid common errors:
· Choose a good lawyer
A good lawyer is responsible for case strategy and complying with court rules. A case can be lost for non-compliance with the court rules or for the wrong legal advice given. Because a good annulment takes time to do well, choose a lawyer who is responsible and sincere and pay him correctly.
· Have strong evidence
If you are filing for annulment for being underage or an annulment without parental consent, you need to get strong evidence to prove that you were underage. A lawyer might suggest getting documents from the LCR. A lawyer might also tell you to add psychological incapacity as a ground if the evidence is weak. (Please see the requirements section for more details).
The reason that you have to do a good job the first time is that annulment can only be filed ONCE.
If the annulment is denied on its grounds, you WON’T BE ABLE TO FILE THE ANNULMENT AGAIN and you will remain married.
If you remain married, then your spouse will always have a claim on your properties. He will also inherit from you. So, it is really, really best to end the marriage legally.
(Please note a kasulatan or contract WILL NOT end the marriage. Only a court case will end the marriage.)
What are the requirements to file an Underage Annulment/Lack of Parental Consent Annulment?
An annulment when you were married below 18 or if you married without your parents’ consent requires strong evidence so that the case can be successful.
The requirements to have a successful annulment are the following:
· Marriage Certificate
· Birth Certificates of the spouses
· The LCR marriage license application showing that there was no Affidavit of Parental Consent or a lack of a valid written document giving consent
· Proof of falsification, if there was some falsification that allowed the marriage despite you being below 18 when you married or falsification of the Affidavit of Parental Consent
· Other Supporting Documents that shows Your Age such as School Records, Baptismal Certificates, Hospital Records, Valid Government IDs, Bank Documents, Dated Photos and Witness Testimonies
The first 3 requirements are fairly straightforward.
You need the marriage certificate since your case is about ending your marriage.
You need the birth certificates of the spouses since your ground is the age you were when you married.
You need the marriage license application so that the lawyer can check to see if it was missing the Affidavit of Parental Consent before you married and to check how you were able to marry if you were not the right age/did not have the correct requirements.
The fact that you were given a marriage license and married below 18 years old or that you married without parental consent sometimes means that there was a “fixer” or falsification of some documents.
If that was the case, then the evidence that would be required is more.
You will need to discuss with a Family Lawyer what this evidence is required; sometimes if the evidence is weak or might be bad for you, he might advise you to change your ground and use psychological incapacity instead.
(This is why you might need a psychologist even in a case using this ground. Remember, you only have ONE CHANCE to file this case, so it is better to spend correctly on it and get good counsel.)
Who can file an Underage Annulment or Annulment for Lack of Parental Consent?
You can file for annulment if you were married below 18 years or if you are filing due to lack of parental consent.
Your parent or guardian can also file for Annulment if the case to be filed is Annulment for lack of parental consent.
As you can see, parents and guardians can also file for annulment for lack of parental consent if that is the ground to be used.
When can I file for Annulment for Lack of Parental Consent or for Underage Annulment?
An Annulment if you married below 18, can be filed at any time.
However, an annulment based on lack of parental consent can only be filed 5 years after reaching 21.
If you are not able to file an annulment in that time period, you can no longer use this ground to end the marriage.
What is the process to file for Annulment?
The process for filing for Annulment based on being underage or lacking parental consent is very similar with other Annulments.
· Hire a lawyer
· Gather documents and evidence required
· Finish the test for psychological incapacity, if you need a psychologist
· File the case
· Collusion Hearing
· Trial with presentation of evidence and witnesses
· Formal Offer
How long does an Annulment take?
An annulment can take 3 years from filing to decision.
Yes, that is a long time.
These are the factors that make an annulment take longer:
- Lack of evidence
- Courts are very slow since they are so overworked and hearings can be months apart
- PH law requirement for a full trial
Philippine annulment law requires a full trial.
Not only does it affect cost (which I mentioned above) but it also affects the timeline.
A full trial takes time because of the number of hearings required and how much evidence the court requires that you present.
That takes time and work on the lawyer’s side, since the evidence that is needed is very extensive.
Furthermore, the court wants documentary evidence from PH institutions.
The court prefers evidence from the Local Civil Register or from other Philippine institutions.
The court puts very low value on things like witness testimony, pictures and photos that don’t also have other documentary evidence to support it.
In addition, the courts are very overworked.
They often take in four times the amount of work that they should, so hearings are far apart and even getting information from the court is often very, very hard to do.
How do I win my Annulment case?
A good case always starts with a strong lawyer.
The lawyer will take a look at your case and your exact situation and give you advice on what you should do (if there is falsification, he might ask you to consider another ground since falsification leads to jail time for the person responding to).
Your family lawyer’s experience is also important – you need to get a lawyer who actually has experience in family law so that he can give you the correct advice.
You will also need a lawyer who can give you his time (please note that you have to compensate him correctly, good lawyers have options and without good compensation, he might not be able to give your case enough time.
Be smart about who you choose.
Work with someone you trust and who is sincere – even if more expensive, it is cheaper than refiling the case again.