A divorce decree obtained abroad jointly by the Filipino and foreign spouse can be recognized in the

Case Title: Cynthia A. Galapon v. Republic of the Philippines

Date of Promulgation: January 22, 2020 | G.R. No. 243722

FACTS: Petitioner Cynthia Galapon (Cynthia), a Filipina, and Noh Shik Park (Park), a Korean national, got married in the City of Manila in February 2012. Their relationship turned sour and ended with a divorce by mutual agreement in South Korea. After the divorce was confirmed by the Cheongju Local Court, Cynthia filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija a Petition for the Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Divorce.

The RTC granted the Petition.; however, the Court of Appeals (CA) held that the divorce decree in question cannot be recognized in this jurisdiction insofar as Cynthia is concerned since it was obtained by mutual agreement. The CA pointed out that the foreign divorce under the second (2nd) paragraph of Article 26 if the Family Code must have been initiated and obtained by the foreigner spouse, and since the divorce here was jointly applied for and obtained by a Filipino and a foreigner spouse, it was incorrect for the RTC to apply the provision of law.

ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in denying the recognition of the divorce decree obtained by Cynthia and her foreign spouse, Park.

RULING: Yes. In the recent case of Manalo[1], the Court en banc extended the scope of Article 26(2) to even cover instances where the divorce decree is obtained solely by the Filipino spouse. The Court’s ruling states, in part:

To reiterate, the purpose of paragraph 2 of Article 26 is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after a foreign divorce decree that is effective in the country where it was rendered, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. The provision is a corrective measure to address an anomaly where the Filipino spouse is tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. Whether the Filipino spouse initiated the foreign divorce proceeding or not, a favorable decree dissolving the marriage bond and capacitating his or her alien spouse to remarry will have the same result: the Filipino spouse will effectively be without a husband or wife.

Pursuant to the majority ruling in Manalo, Article 26(2) applies to mixed marriages where the divorce decree is:

(i) obtained by the foreign spouse;

(ii) obtained jointly by the Filipino and foreign spouse; and

(iii) obtained solely by the Filipino spouse.

[1] Republic of the Philippines v. Manalo, G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018.

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