G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010
Petitioner was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian citizenship through naturalization and was married to the respondent but was shocked of the infidelity on the part of his wife. He went back to Canada and filed a petition for divorce and was granted.
Desirous to marry another woman he now loved, the petitioner went to the Pasig Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and the respondent’s marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistic’s Office informed the petitioner that the marriage between him and the respondent still subsists under the Philippine Law and to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, Series of 1982.
Accordingly, the petitioner subsequently filed at the Regional Trial Court a judicial recognition of foreign divorce but was subsequently denied since he is not the proper party and according to Article 26 of the Civil Code, only a Filipino spouse can avail the remedy.
Whether or not the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
No, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.
Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry. Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond; Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse.
* Case digest by Gretchen Rina A. Lim , LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018