Infidelity Abroad is a common tale
In search for a better life for his family, the husband decides to work abroad as an Overseas Filipino Worker. At first, things look promising as the husband regularly communicates and sends money to his family in the Philippines. As the years progress, the communications and remittances become seldom. The husband becomes distant and cold. Then, the wife discovers that her husband is cohabiting with his mistress abroad.
Such is a common tale in the Philippines. The family is sacrificed in search for a better life. The gnawing question is: how can the wife sue her husband for marital infidelity when the acts were committed outside of Philippine soil? Generally, criminal acts are territorial such that only those committed in the Philippines can be prosecuted here. Prior to the advent of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Law (“VAWC Law”), it would have been legally impossible to sue the husband for his indiscretions done abroad. However, the same is not true now.
Infidelity Punished as Violence Against Women
Under the VAWC law, repeated marital infidelity is considered as a form of psychological violence. Thus, in a 2018 case (G.R. No. 212448, 11 January 2018), the Supreme Court, for the first time, enunciated that a violation of the VAWC Law by the husband through repeated marital infidelity committed abroad may be prosecuted in the Philippines. It reasoned that in psychological violence, what is being punished is the act of causing mental or emotional suffering on the wife. Since the suffering of the wife happened in the Philippines, local courts may take cognizance of the case. The High Court characterized acts of violence against women as transitory or continuing crimes whereby some acts material or essential thereto occur in different places.
In view of the foregoing, if your husband commits repeated marital infidelity abroad, you can sue him criminally under the VAWC Law for psychological violence. If he does not respond to the charges against him and the prosecutor finds probable cause during the preliminary investigation, the judge may issue a warrant for his arrest. Thus, if he comes home to the Philippines, he may be arrested. In addition, you may also request the court to issue a hold departure order to prevent him from leaving the Philippines.
VAWC Law Protects Women
Unfortunately for the men, the reverse is not true. A husband cannot sue his wife under the VAWC Law because the aforementioned law only protects the rights of women. Perhaps, time will come when the men will also have their own law to protect them against violence perpetrated by women. (Note: Infidelity by a woman, done in the Philippines, is punished as adultery under a different law.)
That is how to sue your husband for marital infidelity committed abroad.
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