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Whilst we at Down Under Visa wish that all our clients end up with happy marriages that go on forever, sometimes it doesn’t work out and they fail. So let’s clear up a few things.


First thing, before you do anything else, unless the permanent partner visa (Subclass 820 or Subclass 100) has been granted then you have a legal obligation to tell the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You need to call up the 131 881 number or go into the nearest office and withdraw your sponsorship! If you don’t tell them, then you are breaking the law. Don’t think “Oh, but I don’t want to be responsible for her being deported.” It’s not your decision to make.

And if the visa isn’t granted yet, you need to contact the Embassy and also withdraw your sponsorship. Not only are you fulfilling a legal obligation, but you also need to ensure the visa does not get granted. If it is, then you will face a five year wait (Regulation 1.20J of the Migration Regulations) before you may sponsor another applicant.

Now, onto annulments!

Most would be aware that the Philippines regular legal system has no divorces. The way to end a marriage is via an annulment, which is anything but straight forward. If you have a lady in the Philippines who is still legally married, you cannot marry her or apply for a Prospective Marriage Visa for her until she is legally free to marry. Yes, he may have been the world’s worst husband, and maybe she hasn’t seen him for 14 years, but this has nothing to do with it. Marriages the world over are legally binding contracts, and the Philippines is no exception.

A marriage may be annulled in the Philippines if the lady can establish that one or both parties were psychologically incapable of understanding what a marriage commitment meant, thus allowing the court to declare the original marriage contract annulled. It’s long and drawn out, and requires psychologists reports and plenty of evidence to prove this psychological incapacity. And the outcome is by no means certain. It will take a year or more, more so if the other party is not cooperative.

And attorneys have been known to make these proceedings drag out considerably longer when they’re made aware that there is a rich white man in the picture. So keep a low profile!

I married a Filipina and it didn’t work out. Do I need an annulment?

Common misconception. Married in the Philippines, so surely must end the marriage in the Philippines?


Under Australian Law you may get a divorce in Australia for a marriage that took place overseas, and that divorce is legally binding in Australia. Consult a Family Law specialist lawyer in Australia about this, of course. We are not giving legal advice here. But if you meet all the other requirements for a divorce in Australia, then you may end your marriage in Australia with Australia’s “no fault” divorce laws. Cheap and relatively simple.

Will this divorce be recognised in Philippines?

Technically, yes. There is provision in the Family Code of the Philippines for divorces between Filipinos and foreign nationals to be recognised.

However….it’s not a simple matter to get that divorce registered here in the Philippines and to remarry in the Philippines.

Should you even try? I wouldn’t!

Get a divorce in Australia. And apply for a Prospective Marriage Visa (aka fiancée visa) and you can marry in Australia without any hassles. Take the path of least resistance!

Like to get an assessment of your case (for a visa) assessed for free by Jeff Harvie, Registered Migration Agent? Click HERE

Why is it hard to get a visa to Australia? (Tagalog)


  1. Leslie

    Hi there, I just want to inquire,. My Australian partner and I have been together for almost a year. We are planning to get a spousal visa, with your help. Unfortunately that my marraige with my previos marraige is not yet annul. Do I need to get an annulment first in the Philippines before applying for spousal visa or I can fix my annument in Australia?

    Thank you

    • downundervisa

      Hello Leslie. Yes, you most definitely need an annulment. You are still legally married, and you cannot be married twice at the same time.

      • Jexie Pira


        I got married in the Philippines before but we got separated 7 years ago. Now I am in a relationship with an Australian and having a de facto visa. I wanna know if I can file a divorce here in Australia for my marriage in the Philippines even though I am not a citizen here in Australia yet? I will highly appreciate your help. Thank you.

        • Jeff Harvie

          You need to be a resident in Australia to have a divorce performed in Australia, Jexie. You may however look at applying for a partner visa based on a de facto relationship. Please use our free visa assessment form on the website.

    • divina s sulayao

      hi there i just want to inquire regarding the de pacto visa

      • Jeff Harvie

        Suggest that you complete a free visa assessment form on our website

  2. bryan verrall

    hello Jeff, i just submitted a visa application with your company then i have found out about this annulment stuff, my prospective wife is unable to find her ‘ ex ‘ after 5 years of seperation and moving away/around/to different islands, would it be possible for her to get into australia and apply for a divorce here so she can then get married legaly here afterwoods?regards,bryan

    • downundervisa

      Hello Bryan. You’ve made an enquiry with us, and not an actual application as I told you that we were unable to help you at this time.

      I can’t advise you on divorces in Australia, as I’m not qualified to give that advice. However my understanding (which you should confirm) is that the applicant needs to be an actual resident in Australia before applying for a divorce.

      I would suggest that you discuss a de facto partnership option with us. It’s not quick, however it can be done.

  3. Harry Royle

    Hi Jeff…I married Filipina in Philippines….Xmas 2014..applied and granted Spouse visa..she arrived in Oz Jan 2015…separated Feb 2015….I notified Immig immediately…sponsorship withdrawn….haven’t seen or heard of her since then…
    Have decided to “get back on the horse” ….and met another Filipina currently living in Philipines..and a loving relationship is developing …I intend to apply for Divorce…
    Do I need to wait 12mths separation before this? I do not nor wish to know where the “ex” is
    My new partner and I intend to marry and apply for immigration to Oz
    My question to you …..what should I / we be doing now to enable smooth and legal transition of
    Clearing the past….and preparing for the future intention of marriage/visa application/Immig to Oz…and beginning a new life with my new wife.!!
    Thanking you in anticipation
    Harry Royle

    • Jeff Harvie

      You’ll need to speak with a lawyer about divorce requirements, Harry. I can’t comment on those.

      Can I get you to use our visa assessment form on the website about a further visa? Because I really don’t want to discuss your personal details here in public. Cheers.

  4. Stan

    I am in Australia with a 457 visa with my wife and kids, i am thinking about ending the marriage, do i go with annulment? or am i eligible to get a divorce here?

    • Jeff Harvie

      You need to speak with a family law lawyer there in Australia, Stan

  5. Shane

    Hi I’m Shane from Phil I married here in Philippines but me and my ex husband not see for almost . 7 yrs and I don’t know we’re is he I have 1 kid Now I have bf austrilia and he want me to get tourist visa only to visit here soon is ok I can apply tourist visa even I’m married legally here …

    • Jeff Harvie

      You can do that if you wish, yes.

  6. Leila

    Hi, I married in Philippines but I am separated now but not legally, I’m having a boyfriend now and I’m planning to get him here in Australia with defacto visa. Do you think it is possible even I’m still married?

    • Jeff Harvie

      If your existing relationship is 100% over, and you are in a genuine and committed de facto relationship for 12 months or more AND you can prove this, then yes you may apply for a partner visa. Although you appear to be in Australia. Have you talked to a family law specialist lawyer in Australia? Maybe you can get a divorce.

  7. judith

    hi i have a question
    i get married in philippines with austrLian partner an now im living here in austrLiA an im citizen been separated for 6years now.

    my question is can i get divorce here ?and what documents that i need?

    thank you..

    • Jeff Harvie

      Go and see a lawyer who specialises in Australian family law. I’m sure they can help you.

  8. LEAH

    Hi there
    I have a question, I got married and divorced in Sydney but my marriage Certificate was Registered in Philippines.. and now im in a new relationship we are both Australian Citizen and we intended to get married in Philippines.. what shall i do to Cancel my Registered Marriage in Philipine Consulate.. Thank you

    • Jeff Harvie

      You can’t cancel a marriage in a Consulate, Leah. You’re legally married in the Philippines, and if you try to marry there you will fail miserably because your records are on the marriage registrar with the National Statistics Office….not just in a Consulate. Easiest way is not to marry in Philippines, otherwise you will have to go through the court here to get your divorce recognised. Might take you a year or more.

  9. Dee

    Hi Jeff, Im an Australian citizen, and I have a boyfriend in the Philippines, he was married and is separated for almost 20 years now. Can we get married in Australia? Will the immigration require him proof that he is single? or no existing marriage if he applies for Fiancé or Prospective marriage visa? Thank you.

    • Jeff Harvie

      He cannot marry twice. That’s called Bigamy, and it’s a crime. He has to do something about his marriage before you can legally marry him.

  10. John

    Hi Jeff,
    I am Australia Citizen in the process of getting divorce in Australia to my soon to be ex wife in the Philippines (she is Filipina Citizen) by getting an annulment through the church and hired legal representative in Australia for the legal works.
    It has been one and half years since the legal paperwork sent, I know she as signed it , completed and four months since the interview I had to fly in to the Philippines to get me annulment approved from the priest
    My question is, it’s been 1.5years, how much longer will this take?

    • Jeff Harvie

      You’re asking me about a Church annulment, John? I couldn’t tell you, sorry. Need to ask the Church in the Philippines, I would think.

  11. Aby

    Hi, I married in Philippines but I am separated for almost 11 years but not legally, I have an Australian boyfriend we our in 2 years as a partner we our planning to get with defacto visa.Do you think it is possible even I’m still married?

    • Jeff Harvie

      As long as the married relationship is definitely over, and as long as you can establish that you have been in a genuine, committed and exclusive de facto relationship for 12 months or more, the existing marriage won’t be a problem in applying for a partner visa.

    • Allen

      Hello I’m Allen and I’m married to Australian citizen since 2014 after that I got pregnant to him. He didn’t support me when I got pregnant until I gave birth to my daughter. He didn’t support me and his daughter almost one year and this year I ask him to support her daughter but he ignored all the messages I sent this is not normal and I can’t contact any of his friends or family because don’t have and always moving to another places he is not normal person and I don’t know everything he lied that he have a good work but now he don’t show up and respond to my messages. I want to end up the marriage I hope Australian embassy will help me to find him because he is hiding in Australia. Please help me and my daughter.

      • Jeff Harvie

        Sorry to say but no the Australian Embassy will not help you, nor will the police. This is a domestic matter. Breaking up from a relationship is not a crime. It’s very tough, but you will not get help here. If you were resident it Australia you could demand child support through the courts, but I don’t believe you can do anything from outside if Australia.

  12. Avy Lopena

    Hi Jeff

    I have a friend married in Philippines but separate for more than 10yrs. She is in Australia with her Australian fiancée. She want her ex to sign the divorce paper but he wouldn’t sign it unless annulment worth of 500K pesos. Is there any other way to prevent the issue?


    • Jeff Harvie

      She either needs to get an annulment from him, or the two of them need to commence a de facto relationship and apply as a de facto couple. I would suggest that she does one of our online visa assessment forms (on our website, top right side) and we can advise her.


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