Civil Law

Republic of the Philippines vs Virginia Mimori

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G.R. No. 234487 – Civil Law – Persons and Family Relations – Family Code – Article 26 – Recognition of Foreign Divorce

In 2005, Virginia Parreño, a Filipino, married Koji Mimori, a Japanese, here in the Philippines. In 2013, they divorced by agreement in Japan which was allowed under Japanese law. In 2014, Virginia filed a petition for the recognition of her foreign divorce. In 2015, her petition was granted. The Republic, through the Solicitor General, appealed the decision of the trial court.

The Office of the Solicitor General argued that Virginia failed to prove the Japanese law on divorce.

ISSUE: Whether or not the decision of the trial court should be reversed.

HELD: No. The issue argued by the Solicitor General was not raised at the earliest opportunity. It was only raised for the first time on appeal before the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court also emphasized the previous rulings regarding the second paragraph or Article 26 of the Family Code which reads:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35 (1), (4), (5) and (6), 3637 and 38. (17a).

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 have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by Executive Order 227)

The Supreme Court emphasized that even if the divorce was obtained by the Filipino spouse abroad (in this case both Virginia and Koji obtained the divorce abroad), the Filipino spouse may still initiate a petition for recognition of foreign divorce here in the Philippines.

The intent 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.

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