Philippines Supreme Court Declares that Foreign Law Applies to Divorce  of the Foreign Spouse 

by Admin on August 19, 2022

The Philippines Supreme Court ruled that for judicial recognition of a foreign divorce that the national law of the foreign spouse on divorce must be proven.

In a 10-page decision issued on June 22, the High Court granted the petition for review on certiorari of a 2018 decision of the Court of Appeals which officially recognized the divorce between respondent Jocelyn Asusano Kikuchi and Fumio Kikuchi.

The Court remanded the case to the San Pedro Regional Trial Court for further proceedings and to accept evidence on Japanese law on divorce.

In their decision, the Court ruled that while Kikuchi proved the fact of divorce by submitting the Acceptance Certificate, she did not provide evidence of Japanese on divorce law.

The trial court did receive  a photocopy of the English translation of the Civil Code of Japan submitted by Kikuchi to prove that the divorce was valid under Japanese laws.  However the document was not an official translation.

The Philippines is known for its policy against allowing divorce, under any circumstances, between Filipino nationals.  This policy stems from the Philippines traditional religious and cultural background.  The majority of Filipinos are Catholics by faith. background.

In this case however the divorce was between two foreigners residing in Thailand and therefore avoiding the general prohibition on divorce.

Thailand also requires evidence of foreign laws, but not for all issues involved in the divorce.  If the divorce is a contested divorce in Thailand courts, whether Thailand law applies or a foreign law applies, depends on the particular issue. For example the validity of the marriage, is determined by the law of the place of marriage.  However, the the legality of “grounds” or reasons for the divorce is decided by Thailand law.  On the other hand, child custody issues are  determined by the law of the nationality of the father of the child.

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