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By Kab. Atty. Barney Almazar

Recognition of divorce decree in the Philippines

Atty. Barney, I am a Filipina and was married to a British citizen. After 5 years of being married, he filed for a divorce in United Kingdom which was granted. I found a new love here in Dubai and we are planning to get married. I just want to know if I can remarry under the Philippine law by virtue of the divorce decree obtained by my former husband. – Melissa

Yes, you may remarry provided that the divorce decree obtained by your foreign husband has been recognized as valid by a Philippine court.

Marriage entered into by a Filipino may only be dissolved through a petition for absolute declaration of nullity of marriage or a petition for annulment of marriage. Unless the previous marriage has been annulled or declared void, Filipino spouse cannot validly enter into a new contract of marriage. However, if a foreigner married to a Filipino citizen has obtained a divorce decree abroad, the Filipino spouse may remarry pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code, to wit:

“Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”

Notwithstanding the above quoted provision, the divorce decree obtained by your foreign husband will not automatically capacitate you to remarry. You must first file a petition for recognition of foreign judgment with the Philippine courts. A foreign divorce, being in the nature of foreign judgment requires verification and approval from our courts for it to be recognized in our country.

Once the Philippine court confirms the foreign divorce decree, its decision indicating that it formally recognizes and accepts your foreign divorce decree will be registered before the Office of the Local Civil Registrar that will eventually result in a change of the marital status from married to single. It is only after undergoing this process that you will be able to make your foreign divorce effective in the Philippines, and as a consequence enable you to legally remarry.

Termination without benefits

Atty. Barney, I am working here in Dubai on a three-year visa. I have now completed 27 months with the company. On December 15, I was terminated without serving a notice period. When I asked for my final settlement, they said that they gave me two warnings last year. One of the warnings was through e-mail, and another was on paper, which I signed. Does this mean that legally I am not entitled to any end of service benefits and three months’ salary upon termination? – Lea

Your employer may terminate your employment if your termination letter has reference to your previous warning letters and the termination is based on the same reasons mentioned in the previous warning letters. This is in accordance with Article 120 (e) of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 regulating Labour Relations which states: “An employer may dismiss a worker without notice if the worker does not perform his basic duties under the contract of employment and persists in violating them despite the fact that he has been the subject of a written investigation for this reason and that he has been warned that he will be dismissed if such behaviour continues.”

In the event your employment has been terminated based on the aforementioned ground, then you are not entitled for termination benefits. This is in accordance with Article 139 (a) of the Labour Law, which states: “A worker shall forfeit all entitlement to severance pay if he is dismissed from service for any of the reason specified in article 120 of this law or if he leaves his work in order to avoid being dismissed in accordance with that article.”

If your termination is not based on the aforementioned provision of the Employment Law, then you may file a complaint at Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on grounds of arbitrary termination based on Article 122 of the Labour Law and you are eligible to claim compensatory salary up to three months. Article 122 of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 states that termination by the employer of an employee’s service is considered arbitrary if the cause for such termination has nothing to do with the work. In particular, termination is considered arbitrary if the employee’s service has been terminated on grounds, or a reasonable complaint lodged by him to the competent authorities, or on grounds of a justifiable action brought by him against the employer.

Visa application while there is a pending case

Atty. Barney, I defaulted in paying my loan and now the bank filed a case against me. My visa will expire next month and my company is already asking me about my visa renewal. I did not tell them that I have a pending case because I am afraid they will fire me. Can I still apply for a visa even if I have a pending police case? – Mylene

You can apply for a visa renewal, however, your application will be denied due to your pending police case. You need to clear your police case first before applying for a new visa. Since you need to renew your visa soon, you can contact your bank and ask if they can withdraw the case filed against you upon the immediate settlement of your loan.