Remarrying in Philippines – Will you have problems?

 

Are you an Australia divorcee and intend on remarrying in Philippines? Met your lovely Filipina lady and want to give her the dream wedding with all her family there? Are you concerned about whether this will be a problem or not? We will explain some of the issues you will need to deal with on your way to a happy marriage and a later Partner Visa to Australia from Philippines.

 

remarrying in philippines, remarriage in the catholic church or civil marriage

The dream Church wedding in Philippines…..or not?

 

Remarrying – The Issues

 

The Philippines is one of two countries in the world (ie the other is Vatican City!) which do not have legal divorce. No no-fault divorce like they have in Australia. The Philippines is well-known as the only Christian nation in Asia, with 86% of the population being Catholic. Divorce is not only not legal, it’s also not part of the culture. Marriage-for-life is a Filipino believe and practice (and the reason that many of us were attracted to the Philippines in the first place). A couple being married for 50 years here isn’t something that makes the newspapers. It just means they must be in their 70’s. 

So you arriving as a divorcee, naturally you would wonder and probably worry what sort of reception you will face, both from family and from attempts to remarry in Philippines. Thus, the purpose of this article.

 

Remarriage – Philippines Society Views

 

I can remember back in the 90’s when I nearly married the wrong girl. Yes, it took me a few attempts before I met the right one. The curse of being basically trusting! So I nearly went through remarrying in Philippines. What happened?

 

Her father

He wanted to see a copy of my divorce papers. No, I didn’t carry them around with me, and yes being an Australian I resented being asked to prove I wasn’t lying. But yes, in his generation the thought of divorcing was particularly unheard-of. Probably thought I was a western playboy or something, and obviously wanted to ensure I wasn’t intending to do the wrong thing by his daughter. But he never said NO.

 

Other relatives

Searching my memories here……

It was brought up, yes. Filipinos are not backward about coming forward about a lot of things. People will ask you about your previous marriage and divorce. They may ask you directly if you’re a playboy (at least they did with me!). They will ask you what you paid for something. They will ask if you have unmarried brothers. Shy about some things…..other things, not so shy! But I don’t think anyone actually had a problem with me being a divorcee or with remarrying.

 

The Church

I’ll explain the religious implications a bit further down. Just talking about views here. We went to the office of the Diocese. A Diocese is an area where there are a number of churches and priests, and the boss of this area is a Bishop. So the Diocese office is where the Bishop hangs out and where you go to organise important things. We went there and met a fairly serious-looking nun. Didn’t seem overly impressed that I was a double-divorcee. Natural enough, however it wasn’t going to be a problem in our case (if we had gone ahead, which we didn’t).

 

Remarrying in Philippines – Legal implications

 

Australian Divorce – To an Australian

Legally, you may remarry in Philippines. The law of the Philippines accepts your divorce, and you may marry freely and legally. No issues at all. Many a divorced Australian marries in the Philippines and it’s never an issue. Feel free to do so, and you won’t have any hinderance. 

 

Australian Divorce – To a Filipina

Did you marry a Filipina before? I sincerely hope you didn’t go through the rigmarole of an annulment in the Philippines to end this marriage, because you didn’t need to! A foreign national such as yourself, you may end that marriage through a no-fault divorce in Australia. You can do that despite your marriage being under Philippines Law. How do I know? Other than reading Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, I’ve also had a Philippines marriage and ended it with an Australian divorce! And I’ve known plenty of others who have done so. 

 

What about a Filipina/Filipino divorcing in Australia?

Very important point!

We have clients who’ve dodged the long and painful annulment process in Philippines  by (a) applying for a Partner Visa as a de facto couple, and (b) getting an Australian divorce of that marriage in Australia later on when legally entitled to do so as an established Australian resident! However in this case the Filipino/Filipina are still seen as married in the Philippines and will have difficulty in remarrying in Philippines. I’ve always suggested that those couples do not even try. Marry in Australia! Much simpler!

 

Catholic Church – Remarrying in Philippines

OK, this is where it gets less simple.

A bit of an introduction to Catholicism for beginners and for cradle-Catholics who’ve forgotten more than they’ve learned. It’s about the word “Sacrament”. In simple terms, you could say that these are the times when Heaven and Earth merge and you are at one with God. There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, and one of these is Matrimony! Marriage! More than just a contract, and it’s permanent and indissoluble. Can’t end a sacrament with a divorce. Marry through the Sacrament of Matrimony and do it once only.

 

Annulments

What then is an annulment? Well, there are two types. And I won’t cover civil/legal annulments right now as I have before. 

CHURCH Annulments are a bit similar, actually. No doubt this was the model when designing the civil annulments that exist in the Philippines legal system. To annul a marriage, it means they need to make it clear that no contract…..or in this case no SACRAMENT…..was made in the first place! How is this done? I have no experience of this, but again it’s about establishing that no Sacrament took place at the time. Being forced to marry could be one. Bigamy could be another, ie the spouse was already married to someone else. Lying about something essential, such as impotence. Basically being incapable of making a sacrament or not intending to honour the marriage from the start.

Note that only a CHURCH annulment will allow you to remarry in a Catholic Church. A civil annulment has no significance within the Church. And a Church Annulment doesn’t legally end a marriage either, so don’t expect that this will get you a Partner Visa!

 

Divorcing from a non-Catholic marriage

What if you married with a celebrant? Or a registry office? Or you had a Hindu or Islamic marriage? Or you were married by a “Born Again” church?

If you married in the registry office, then no sacrament was made. Same applies to celebrants or non-Christian marriages. As to other churches? It will really depend on the church itself, and I really bow-out of that one. You will need to speak to the Church about that before remarrying in Philippines. Speak to the parish priest.

 

Marrying a non-Catholic

To marry in the Catholic Church, at least one of you must be Catholic. The non-Catholic intending spouse may marry if he is OK with children of the marriage being raised as Catholics. 

 

Conclusion

 

You will find that most girls in Philippines these days will have no problem in marrying a divorced man. No doubt you will have to explain this all in your courting days, so it’s unlikely you will be putting on your wedding outfit and have her say “Oh, I can’t marry you!” If she has an issue, you will know about it early enough. If she belongs to the Seventh Day Adventists or the Iglesia ni Cristo, then she will probably be expecting you to convert beforehand. No doubt you will have had that discussion anyway.

Re the Church? If this is something that matters to you and/or to her? Then do some investigating before you proceed. The Church has its rules and it won’t bend. Don’t get annoyed if that’s the case. You are perfectly entitled to a civil wedding as long as you’re legally free to marry.

 

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Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it!

 

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