What is Legal Separation?
An action for legal separation is a judicial process wherein the spouses are to live separately from each other and the obligation of mutual support between the spouses ceases, but the marriage bond is not severed. In legal separation, the spouses are still technically considered as spouses.
They are still husband and wife of each other. However, the spouses will no longer live together in the same house in case a petition for legal separation is granted by the court.
How do you file for legal separation?
An action for legal separation shall only prosper on the basis of the following grounds, as provided under the Family Code of the Philippines:
- Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;
- Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
- 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;
- Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;
- Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
- Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
- Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in or outside the Philippines;
- Sexual infidelity or perversion of the respondent;
- Attempt on the life of petitioner by the respondent; or
- Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
A.M. No. 02-11-11-SC (“Rules”) provides for the Rules on Legal Separation. The Rule took effect on March 15, 2003 and it governs petitions for legal separation under the Family Code of the Philippines. Under the Rules, the action for legal separation is initiated by filing a petition for legal separation.
Who may file for Legal Separation?
A petition for legal separation may be filed only by the husband or the wife, as the case may be.
Is there a time limit for filing for Legal Separation?
The petition must be filed within five (5) years from the time of the occurrence of any of the grounds abovementioned for legal separation.
Where do you file the Petition for Legal Separation?
The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing “or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner.
What does the petition contain and in what form?
The petition for legal separation shall allege the complete facts constituting the cause of action and state the names and ages of the common children of the parties, specify the regime governing their property relations, the properties involved, and creditors, if any.
If there is no adequate provision in a written agreement between the parties, the petitioner may apply for a provisional order for spousal support, custody and support of common children, visitation rights, administration of community or conjugal property, and other similar matters requiring urgent action.
The petition must contain the complete address of the parties, with the following attachments:
- Sworn certification of residency (with house location sketch) issued by the barangay;
- Sworn statement of counsel of record that he/she has personally verified [petitioner’s residency and that the petitioner had been residing thereat for at least 6 months prior to the filing of petition; and
- Any but not limited to the following supporting documents:
- Utility bills in the name of the petitioner for at least 6 months prior to the filing of petition;
- Government-issued ID or company ID bearing the photograph and address of the petitioner and issued at least 6 months prior to the filing of petition;
- Notarized lease contract, if available, and/or receipts for rental payments (bearing the address of the petitioner) for at least 6 months prior to the filing of petition;
- Transfer Certificate of Title, or Tax Declaration, or Deed of Sale and the like, in the name of the petitioner where he/she resides.
The petition must be verified and accompanied by a certification against forum shopping and filed in six (6) copies.
Can a party file a Motion to Dismiss?
No. Under the Rules, no motion to dismiss the petition shall be allowed except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or over the parties.
Any other ground that might warrant a dismissal of the case may be raised as an affirmative defense in an answer.
What happens next after filing the petition?
The respondent shall be served with summons and he shall file his answer within fifteen (15) days from receipt of summons, or within thirty days from the last issue of publication in case of service of summons by publication.
What does the Public Prosecutor do in a Petition for Legal Separation?
The public prosecutor shall submit an investigation report to the court on whether the parties are in collusion. If there is collusion, the court shall dismiss the petition.
If no collusion exists, the court shall set the case for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public prosecutor to appear for the State at the pre-trial.
What are the instances wherein the court should deny the petition?
The court shall deny the petition on any of the following grounds:
- The aggrieved party has condoned the offense or act complained of or has consented to the commission of the offense or act complained of;
- There is connivance in the commission of the offense-or act constituting the ground for legal separation;
- Both parties have given ground for legal separation;
- There is collusion between the parties to obtain the decree of legal separation; or
- The action is barred by prescription.
Effects if the petition is granted
The court shall issue a Decree of Legal Separation. The spouses are entitled to live separately from each other but the marriage bond is not severed. The obligation of mutual support between the spouses ceases and the offending spouse is disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession, and provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent spouse are revoked by operation of law.
What if the spouses reconcile?
If the spouses had reconciled, a joint manifestation under oath, duly signed by the spouses, may be filed.
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
If you need help regarding annulment of marriage, declaration of nullity of marriage, legal separation, or have any questions or concerns regarding family law, we can help you. Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com/.