After we graduated from college in 1998, my best friend, James, got married to his pregnant girlfriend who is a naturalized US citizen. They got married in California and then flew back to the Philippines to settle here for good. However, when their baby was born, his wife asked that they move back to the US so she can pursue her career in I.T. My friend was only 20 years old then and was at the height of his career as a band singer, travelling all over the country and earning well. He wanted to stay until his band is able to launch an album and go main stream.
His wife took their baby and left for the US anyway and left my friend behind. But because James missed his daughter so much, he applied for a tourist visa and followed his family to Texas and spent a year trying to get used to his new environment. That was all he needed to realize that he is not cut-out for the ‘American Dream’. He came back to the Philippines with a broken heart.
Not long after, his wife filed for divorce and sent him the papers which he promptly signed. She later married an American and are now happily settled in Connecticut with her and my friend’s daughter.
James, on the other hand, is also planning to marry his girlfriend of three years. To be able to do this, he needs to file a petition for his divorce to be recognized in the Philippines. He went to the Manila City Hall to find out how this can be done.
As the petition will be filed in court, James sought the services of a Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyer to guide him in the legal proceedings of his case. He was required to present a copy of his NSO birth certificate and that of his ex-wife’s. Their birth certificates will support the rest of the documents they had on hand, proving his ex-wife’s citizenship at the time she secured the divorce abroad. This is because under the Family Code, only the alien spouse has the legal capacity to seek a valid divorce abroad. A Filipino citizen who files for divorce abroad will remain legally married to his spouse in the Philippines and will not be legally capable of marrying another person here.
In James’ and his ex-wife’s case, she was born in the Philippines but was petitioned by her parents to become a citizen of the U.S. She acquired her American citizenship right before she and James got married. This makes her the ‘alien spouse’ and is legally capacitated to seek divorce in America.
James ordered for copies of his and his ex-wife’s PSA birth certificates at www.psahelpline.ph. His ex-wife had to send additional identification to the PSAHelpline (like her passport) since James will be receiving her birth certificate on her behalf. It took less than a week for the birth certificates to be delivered and James was able to complete all required documents for submission to the city hall in less than a month.
He is now currently waiting for the results of his petition. As soon as he receives the court’s acknowledgment of his divorce in the U.S., he would be free to marry his girlfriend here in the Philippines.