The law of legal separation in the Philippines and the act of reconciliation

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Everyone here knows that putting up a good fight in a tough marriage is the ultimate road, often leading many of us to what is also known as the ‘ultimate end’. But for those who find a means to reconcile, the law of legal separation in the Philippines has a few twists and turns.

Numerous couples in my time in the Philippines have filed for legal separation – the cost to do so can vary heavily but a recent friend of mine said his final cost for doing so was 65,000 peso (or about $1,500 dollars).  The process terminates the living arrangements between the couple while separating their accumulated property. This noted separation must fall under the grounds enumerated in Article #55 of the Family Code of the Philippines. 

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Once the court grant the petitioner the right for legal separation, if any minor children are involved then the court will award them to the innocent spouse – subject to the provisions of Article #213 in the same said law. 

The petition once again affords the couple to live in legal separation but under the provision the law of marriage’ is not severed. Those looking for total separation from a partner may do so under the act of filing an Annulment, which in effect gives the same act as divorce in the Philippines. This act severs the bonds of marriage and relays to the courts the overall image that the marriage never happened at all. Getting an Annulment in the Philippines is a costly matter, often running 200,000 to 300,000 peso (approximately $4,000 to $6,000 dollars) and can take years, if it happens at all. 

In legal separation the absolute community and conjugal partnership will be dissolved – and any liquidated properties shall be sold and separated between the two as afforded by the court. The offending partner shall have no right to any share of the ‘net profits’ earned by the sale of such properties in accordance with provisions in Article 43(2) – (Article #63 of the Family Code of the Philippines).

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Now onto those who find a meaningful path to reconciliation under the law of Legal Separation in the Philippines. For those who find the ability to reconcile with their partner the two of you must file a Joint Manifestation, duly signed and made under oath before a court that has jurisdiction over whoever filed the Legal Separation in the first place – (Article #65, The Family Code of the Philippines).

For those who are still in legal proceedings or pending acts of Legal Separation – then those who file the papers noted above will in effect have their process terminated. If the process has already been concluded and you are in fact “Legally Separated” then the final decree of legal separation shall be set aside “BUT” the separation of property and forfeiture of the share of the guilty spouse effected shall subsist. Saying that, this can be changed if the spouse agrees without prejudice to an agreement to revive their conjugal property to its former state – The court’s order containing such reconciliation of the couple and its overall effects shall be recorded in the proper civil registry(s) – (Article #66 – The Family Code of the Philippines).

I’d like to also point out that I’ve seen numerous reconciliations while living in the Philippines, often those ‘caught up’ in the realities of living in the Philippines can surely take its toll on a marriage, long-term relationships and more. Since there is no legal Divorce in the Philippines many foreigners and expats find relief in their own countries or by simply filing the act of Legal Separation in the Philippines to protect their investments or possessions here. 

 Legal Separation in the Philippines also gives one a more formidable, if not easier access to bringing about a way to move on or get away from abusive situations with a partner. The act of filing for an Annulment takes far to long and is far to expensive in my mind, but everyone has their choice and for many that choice often comes to those even when they are not seeking it. 

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