The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world that does not allow divorce. That does not mean, however, that people in troubled marriages have no remedies or options available to them.

Under Philippine law, there are 3 remedies available: Annulment of Marriage, Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Legal Separation.

In this article, we will talk about Legal Separation.

To put it simply, Legal Separation is the separation of bed and board. The marriage will still be intact and continue to subsist, but certain marital obligations will be terminated. Particularly, a decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:

  1. The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other;
  2. The dissolution and liquidation of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership. However, the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership. His or her share shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if none, his or her children, or, if none, the innocent spouse;
  3. The custody of the common children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse. However, this shall be subject to the provisions of Article 213 of the Family Code, which states that Court shall consider all relevant considerations, including the choice of the child over 7 years of age.
  4. The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law.
  5. The innocent spouse may revoke donations made in favor of the offending spouse, as well as the designation of the offending spouse as beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if the designation is stipulated as irrevocable.

The law provides for specific grounds for legal separation, which must be proven with evidence. These are:

  1. Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;
  2. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
  3. 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;
  4. Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;
  5. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
  6. Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
  7. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad;
  8. Sexual infidelity or perversion;
  9. Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
  10. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

Not only are the grounds for the filing of a petition for legal separation very specific, there are specific grounds for denial, as well, which are:

  1. Where the aggrieved party has condoned the offense or act complained of;
  2. Where the aggrieved party has consented to the commission of the offense or act complained of;
  3. Where there is connivance between the parties in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for legal separation;
  4. Where both parties have given ground for legal separation;
  5. Where there is collusion between the parties to obtain decree of legal separation; or
  6. Where the action is barred by prescription, which is 5 years.

It is important that none of these grounds exist to avoid wasting time, money and effort.

So, let’s clarify some of the myths concerning legal separation and discuss some of the actual effects.


After the grant of the decree of Legal Separation, can the spouses remarry?

No, because the marriage is still intact. Any subsequent marriage will be void for being a bigamous marriage.

After the grant of the decree of Legal Separation, if one of the spouses passes away, will the other spouse still be considered an heir of the deceased spouse?

It depends. If the spouse who passed away is the innocent spouse, the guilty spouse will be disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse. If it is the guilty spouse who passed away, the innocent spouse may still inherit and will become an heir.

Is Legal Separation a “quicker” remedy vs. Annulment or Declaration of Nullity of Marriage?

Not necessarily. As mentioned, there are specific grounds for legal separation that must be proven with evidence. The entire process will depend on the volume of evidence and witnesses that will be presented by the petitioner.

The wife is lesbian, while the husband is a drug addict.  The wife decides to file a petition for Legal Separation. Will the petition be granted?

No. One of the grounds for denial of a petition for Legal Separation is where both parties have given a ground for legal separation. The wife may, however, consider other remedies such as Annulment or Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.

Before you consider which remedy you choose, remember what we discussed in this article and ask yourself, “Is this the outcome that I want?” If not, you may want to re-evaluate your choice. Make sure you consult a lawyer and legal expert for you to ensure that your time, resources, and effort would not be wasted.