Does Long Separation Automatically Nullify Marriage?

Marriage is a sensitive subject matter that requires concrete answers. It is one of the most common topics being discussed in legal forums. If one has already found a new person to love, long separation does not necessarily nullify marriage because laws still get in the way.  Even if you are separated from your spouse for 10 years, it is not a sufficient ground for annulment. However, long separation will greatly depend on the circumstances. The petitioner is allowed to remarry if the court provides a declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse. The separation between spouses is referred to as de facto separation. Both parties need to undergo proper procedure to nullify marriage. There are different ways marriage can be nullified: annulment, presumptive death, declaration of nullity and recognition of foreign divorce.

Article 83 of the Civil Code states:

“ Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any other person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:

(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of the contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared null and void by a competent court.”

A married individual who is separated from spouse should also note that legal separation does not allow a person to remarry as the spouses are still considered married to each other. Filing for legal separation is not faster than annulment because the petitioner needs to prove the allegations. There is also a mandatory 6-month cooling off period that must be observed as part of the procedure.

Article 55 of the Family Code outlines the grounds for legal separation:

“ (a) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;

(b) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;

(c) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;

(d) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;

(e) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;

(f) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;

(g) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in or outside the Philippines;

(h) Sexual infidelity or perversion of the respondent;

(i) Attempt on the life of petitioner by the respondent; or

(j) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.”

Pinoy Attorney

Written by : Pinoy Attorney