Legal Separation of Marriage Explained

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of couples desiring to terminate their marriage for one reason or another. One of these is the physical abuse they experience from their partner or sometimes, bizarre traits, which they discovered in their partner such as excessive alcoholism or even tendencies to fall with someone of the same sex.

In this article, I will discuss with you the concept known as Legal Separation, a term which some of you may have already encountered but the meaning of which is still unclear in your minds.

What is legal separation?

Legal separation is a decree from the court permitting the husband and the wife to live separately from each other.

How is it different from declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage?

There are several differences among these legal concepts but the main difference is that unlike in declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage, the marriage is not severed in cases of legal separation. Thus, the husband and the wife are still married despite the decree of legal separation.

What are the grounds for legal separation?

A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:

  1. Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct against the petitioner, common child, or a child of the petitioner. Thus if for example the husband keeps on hitting the wife with a “dos por dos”, then the wife can file a legal separation. Take note that the physical violence must be repeated or that the abusive conduct must be gross, otherwise there is no ground for legal separation.
  2. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliations. For example if the wife threatens the husband that if the latter does not support the Liberal Party, the wife will leave the husband. In this case, the husband can file a case for legal separation against the wife due to the moral pressure.
  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. For example, if the wife has an 18-year-old daughter from his former marriage, and the present husband compelled this daughter to pose for FHM, there will be no case of legal separation because mere posing in FHM is not prostitution. But if the stepfather required this daughter to work as a prostitute in Quezon Avenue, then there will be a basis for legal separation.
  4. Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned. For example, if the husband was convicted of plunder, a case that has a penalty of life imprisonment, the wife can file a case for legal separation. This will prosper even if the President pardons the husband.
  5. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent. Thus if the husband went to a bar, tasted a beer for the first time and after realizing how good it was, he downed one case before going home the next day after, there will be no case of legal separation because the alcoholism of the husband is not habitual. It would be different in case the husband made it a habit to do this drinking spree every night.
  6. Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent. For example, if the husband keeps going to a gay bar and engages in homosexual acts with the hunky dancers, then the wife has a case for legal separation.
  7. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether here or abroad. So, if the husband went to Korea to look for a fair skinned lady and later on married the latter despite the existence of his marriage with his Filipina wife, the latter can file a case for legal separation.
  8. Sexual infidelity or perversion. For example if the wife had sex with a man not his husband, the husband can file a case for legal separation against the wife.
  9. Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner. Thus if the wife tried to kill the mother of the husband, there will be no case of legal separation because the attempt was not against he petitioner. But if the husband tried to kill the husband, then there will be a case for legal separation.

10. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable case for more than one year. So, when the husband was stranded in an island due to a plane crash and was rescued after a year, there will be no case of legal separation because there was a justifiable cause. But if the husband just went around the world for no valid reason and did not return after a year, the wife can file a case for legal separation against the husband.

Is there a period within which I am allowed to file the case for legal separation?

Yes. The affected party has five (5) years from the date of the commission of the offense within which to file the case for legal separation.

Will the trial proceed immediately after the filing of the case for legal separation?

No. An action for legal separation shall in no case be tried before six months shall have passed since the filling of the petition. This six months “cooling off” period is designed to give the husband and the wife time to think about their status with the hope that they reconcile in the end.

When will I be allowed to live separately from my husband/wife?

After the filing of the petition for legal separation, the spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other.

What are the effects of legal separation?

The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:

  1. The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other; but the marriage bond shall not be severed. This means that even if the husband and the wife are entitled to live separately from each other, neither one of them is allowed to marry another person, because if he/she does so, he/she will commit bigamy.
  2. The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and liquidated but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership. Take note that the right removed is limited only to the net profits and not to the whole property regime.
  3. The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, subject to the provision of Article 213, which provides that parental authority shall be exercised by the parent designated by the court and that maternal preference shall be exercised in case the child is less than seven (7) years of age.
  4. The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Thus the husband who constantly harms his wife will not receive inheritance from his wife who died without a will. But in case the wife made a will and bequeathed a property to her husband, the law also provides that provisions in favor of the offending spouse in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law.

Author: Atty. James Biron
Atty. James S. Biron is a corporate lawyer specializing in foreign investments, trade, mergers and acquisitions, planning and financing of projects and capital raising. Clients served include real estate, construction, energy, information technology, agriculture, education, medical and casino gaming companies.


  • Mond

    Good afternoon
    Atty. James Biron

    Magtanong lang po paano po ba mag file nang legal seperation po kasi sa totoo nawala na po pagmamahal ko sa kanya buhat nang may mabasa ako text sa cellphone n’ya na ang nilalaman nang text ay kita po tayo sa dati yaan po ang laman nang text simula nang nangyari yun nung January 11,2016 birthday pa nang asawa ko biglaan po kasi ako umuwi na balak ko sya surprise pero nawalan ako nang gana buhat nang nabasa ko yun parang isip ko na lang pag wala ako may pinupuntahan sya iba at may at minsan may mga katext na ayaw nya ipakita saken ngayon po august 15,2016 nais ko malaman kung papano mag file nang Legalseperation di na po ako masaya pinipilit ko na lang sarili ko sa kamya

  • Mond

    mga magkano po ba ang bayad sa legal seperation wala po kasi ako idea jung meron ba bayad o wala

  • atty. separated ako for more than 31 years…i got married when 3 mos pregnant in1985.we only got married kasi nabuntis ako and after 6 mos of giving birth, nagseparate kami. due to so many things na di pinagkakasunduan dahil sa menor de edad.pwede pa ba akong mag magfile ng legal separation or dapat annulment na. may kanya kanya na rin kaming partner. and ang alam ko pinakasalanan nya yun partner nya.

  • Marie perez

    Hello po isa po ako Filipina na may asaw American citizen dito po kami nanairahan sa Pilipinas kasal po kami sa huwes itatanung ko lang po kung magkano ang pag aaply ng legal separation? Kase po ang asawa ko mautak nagpakasal langsa akin para makapanirahan dito sa pilipinas wala po siya investment or wala siya binibili bahay naupa lang kami maraming beses na kami palipat lipat, feel7ng ko katulong lang nya ako ang nais ko malaman kung anu po karapatan ko bilang asawa niya kase wala din po siya binibigay sa akin na allowance un pong pinamimili ko groceries tina
    Anung pa niy isa isa wala po siyang tiwala, 4 na taun na po kami naasama, kakasal lang namin last year nagpakasal kami after 3 years na po pero nag live in muna kami, gusto ko po sana makipaghiwalay pero wala ako anak makakakuha po ba ako ng pera sa kanya? Salamat po.

  • may

    Attorney can you please help me with my case?thank you

  • cors

    hi good evening po ask ko po sna n mgkano ang annulment ?

  • Hello po..good day atty..ask ko lang po kung pwede po ba magpakasal ulit kahit may pirmahan at kasunduan na sa hindi na po dinaan sa korte at kahit may kasunduan na ang mag asawa na mag asawa ulit pa sa iba pwede po ba yon?please response po,gusto ko lang po maliwanagan.

  • Pauline Mae

    Atty. James
    Nais ko lamang po magtanong sa inyo kung pwede po ba magfile ang husband ng legal separation against his wife? Mahigit isang taon na po silang hndi nagsasama ng kanyang wife dahil sa hndi pagkakaunawaan sa bahay at nais na din po ng guy na matahimik buhay nya.pero po sa kabila ng hndi nila pagsama ay patuloy po ang pag suporta nya sa kanyang isa anak subalit ang wife nya po ay hndi pa din kontinto sa bnbgay nya dahil sa gusto nya sa ka kanya lahat mapunta pinaghihirapan ng guy kahit wala na matira sa guy dahil sa mga luho ng wife wala trabaho wife nya kaya pilit sya..pinapahiya po sya gamit social media para mapahiya at maging masama syang tao..nais po ng guy na matahimik buhay nya kahit po magsuporta xa sa bata..ayaw nya n po makisama sa wife nya dahil sa ilang taon na din po sya nagtiis sa ganitong sitwasyon..anu po ba pwede gawin ng guy para po magkaron ng maaus na settlement at hndi na po sya ipahiya ng babae? At hndi na po sya makikisama sa wife nya.. Pls advice po

  • Ley

    Good Afternoon
    Attorney James Biron

    Kinasal po ako last 2015 sa davao, trival wedding po kasal namin. Yung husband ko po ay bagobo, protestant po religion nya at ako naman po ay adventist. Nagpaconvert po kami sa islam, una sya kasunod ako kasi yun po gusto nya. Pero Attorney naghiwalay po kami nalaman ko po kasi na may previous po syang asawa last 2001 kasi nakita ko po yung nso marriage certificate nila.. sabi nya nghiwalay na daw kasi ngkaanak daw sa iba ang babae. Ganun pa man yung paghihiwalay po namin ay humantong po sa divorce through sharia court po.. Tanong ko lang po attorney kung valid po ba yung divorce namin kasi di po kami islam nung ikinasal po kami, pero converted po kami. . Maari po bang mag hain ako ng petition of void marriage kasi may una po syang asawa kahit na divorce na po kami ngayon.. paano po ang proseso. Yung cenomar ko po kasi nakalgay married pa po ako sa kanya, tanging ang certificate of marriage lang po namin sa psa yung may remarks na divorce. Sana matulungan nyo po ako attorney, gulong gulo po isip ko.

  • Kathlene

    Atty.ask ko lng po sana,asawa ko po kasi kasal dati ngka anak cla isa ng nag isang taon yung anak nila nag japan ang asawa mula noon hindi na po cla inuwi nun asawa nya wla pa nga cla kumunikasyun hanggang sa ngayun mag 18 y o na anak nila,at gusto na din namin magpakasal panu po namin gawin yun kasal cla dati sa asawa nya at nabalitaan na rin namin na may apat ng anak yung dating asawa nya sa ibang lalaki

  • blanca

    atty may kinakasama po ako ngaun at may isa na kming anak..pero kasal po dati ang bf ko..naghiwalay sila dahil sumama s tomboy ang asawa nya.. kapag ng aaway sila tungkol s ank nila dahil nasa bf ko yung ank nila..pinapanakot nya n sasamphan nya kmi ng kaso dhil ksal dw cla.. sobrang unfair lng pra s bf ko.. dhil iniwan nmn n sya ng babae.. 4 years n silang hiwalay..anu po ang pwedeng mging laban ng bf ko s knilang dalawa ng kinaksama nyang tomboy.. thnks a lot..godbless..

  • Irene

    Ask ko lang po atty. Kung pwede po ba kami mag pakasal ng patner ko legaly separated na po sila ng ex wife nya last 2016. Thankyou po.

  • Cathy

    Hi Atty, I wanted to seek an advise with you personally. Could it be possible?
    Thank you

  • Juvi h.

    Good evening atty.
    Gusto ko Lang po sanang magtanong kung magkano an magagastos Sa annulment o kaya po Sa legal separation,salamat po

  • Rozelle

    atty. magandang gabi po , kinasal po kami ng ex husband ko last 2004 pero naghiwalay din po kami nung 2006 . may kinakasama na po sya ngayon at may boyfriend na din po pareho po naming ginusto na mag hiwalay nabuntis nya po ako kaya nagpakasal kami . dahil po sa mahal ang annulment hindi po kami nakapag pa annul , sa ngayon po gusto akong mag tourist ng boyfriend ko sa country nila wala pa naman kaming balak magpa kasal , kaso baka po ma deny ung visa ko dahil makikita na kasal ako sa papers kahit matagal na kaming hiwalay . makakatulong po ba ang legal separation ? para mapatunayan sa embassy na kahit kasal kami in papers e wala na kaming pakielam sa isat isa sa kung ano man ang gagawin naming desisyon sa buhay namin?

  • Joy

    Good am po Atty. may icoconsult po ako sa inyo. Kasal po kami last June 30, 2015 Civil Marriage sa munisipyo po ng Calamba. Buntis po aq yun at napilitan magpakasal saken yung partner ko dahil sa kagustuhan ng magulang ko at ayaw nila manganak ako na illegitimate daw ang bata sa Birth Cert. nya kaya nagpakasal kmi. Habang tumatagal ay hindi nagiging maganda pagsasama namin at nahuhuli ko xa may katext o ka flirt na ibang babae sa cp nya. At isa pa po hindi xa umuuwi dto sa bahay namin, minsan lng kung kailan lng nya gustuhin. Mas gusto nya mag stay sa boarding house nila ng kapatid nya at mama. Magbibigay lng xa ng pang gastos sa pangangailangan ng anak nya pag humingi ako pero kung hindi ay hindi pa xa magbibigay. Wala siyang kusa tingnan o bilhin ang mga pangangailangan ng anak nya. Sa tuwing magkakasakit anak nya ay hindi man lng niya magawang umuwi at alagaan ang anak nya. Magpadala man xa ng pang gamot sa anak nya ay sakto lng pang check up at pangbili ng gamot pero malimit ay kulang pa kaya mabuti nlng at dinadagdagan ako ng papa o mama ko pangbili ng kailangan ng anak ko. Pakiramdam ko po kasi kaya hindi siya nagkukusa ay dahil sa alam niya na nasa abroad ang papa ko yung tipong may magbibigay pa ng sustento para sa anak niya eh hindi naman po tama yun hindi ba? Nakakahiyang sa magulang ko pa kami aasa mag-ina na dapat siya yung ama na nagkakayod at nagsisikap ibigay samin ang nararapat. Minsan narin po niya sinabi saken na hiwalayan ko na xa. Ipa annual na daw namin yung kasal namin. Paano po kaya yun atty. valid po kaya yun? Pls help me. Thank you po!

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