A lot has been asking me about how I did go back to singlehood, so here it is! But before that, kindly read my disclaimer:
DISCLAIMER: I am writing this not because I am pro-separation or breakage of marriage. I am writing this to inform people how difficult it is to undergo a legal procedure, therefore, one must think thrice before getting married. Do not get married if you have doubts at your partner. Do not get married if you are thinking that you will eventually separate should marriage fails. Marry because you want to spend a lifetime with the person and you are ready to embrace even his/her shortcomings. Marry because you are ready to forgive and learn from your mistakes. Most of all, let God be the center of your marriage so that it'll be successful.
This phrase has been popularized by a movie starred by Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales. I wasn't able to watch the movie but friends are telling me to watch it because of good reviews and good storyboard. Well, I'm not really a fan of romance movies since I cannot bring my son with me inside the movie theater to watch it.
It took me quite some time to tell my story because I have a son to protect. Also, there was a point in time that people have judged me big time for making a stupid decision in my life and I really got hurt big time about it. If I didn't do anything to make things right in my life, I guess people have the right to judge me and throw stones at me.
Yes, I AM WIFE NUMBER TWO.
I got married in 2005 by civil rites. It was like a Las Vegas-type of wedding--just went to the city hall to get married on that same day. During that time, Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) wasn't a prerequisite to marriage. My ex-husband and I really didn't live together for a long time because he was an OFW. After we got married, he went back to Saudi Arabia and we were just reunited again during Kib's first birthday/baptismal celebration in 2007. He again went back to Saudi Arabia again after a month-long vacation....or so I thought.
After he had gone back to Saudi Arabia, our communication lines were open until March 2008. To cut his communication with me, he fabricated a story that he was in jail. While I'm a bit worried about his so-called incarceration, my friends were already doubtful of his story.
Fast-forward to February 2009, I am still looking for some answers on my ex-husband's 'disappearance'. I searched him on Google using his alias, and a motorcycle forum appeared on the search. I checked on the link and yes, it was really him, telling on the forum that he will be back in the Philippines on November 2008! My heart was beating so fast that I called overseas. His officemate answered the call and confirmed that he already resigned. I was crying incessantly at that time, confused and hurt.
The following day, when I already felt a bit fine and came back to my senses, I asked help. I confirmed if my ex-husband was really in the country. The next day, I got an answer confirming that he's in the country. From there, I claimed that the Lord will help me in my situation.
The following days and weeks, I went to several government agencies asking for his possible whereabouts. I always bring our marriage contract with me so that they will entertain me. While waiting for a clear answer, as per instruction of a lawyer, I already requested for CENOMAR. It was in POEA I found out that I AM NOT THE DECLARED WIFE and he has other kids. My son wasn't even declared as his dependent. My hands became cold and I almost fell on my knees after knowing this bitter truth.
I filed for a criminal case against my ex-husband, because I am also criminally liable for what he did. After filing the criminal case, I filed for absolute nullity of marriage because without this, I can still be sued by wife number 1.
The criminal case concluded in 2013 and the nullity in 2016. I got the decision in March 2017 and started doing the paperworks in May. I finished the paperworks (up to NSO/PSA) in July and now I'm in the process of changing my status to government agencies.
The legal battle was long and emotionally tiring. I also encountered problems with my lawyer too, but that's another story.
If only I can keep my marriage, I would do so. I don't have any choice but to let go. Who wants to have a broken family?
After posting my status on Facebook that I'm already legally single last February, several people have sent me a message, asking me how did I do it and how much I spent. I've also asked their reasons for separating. I got sad on the responses of some people, but I cannot judge them for having that bitter feelings toward their estranged partner.
Anyway, for the sake of answering the inquiries I got, I will tell how I did it:
1. Consult a lawyer. The lawyer will tell you if you have a case or not. However, not all lawyers are honest and has integrity. They will convince you that you have a case even if he/she knows that your situation is a hopeless one. Try to talk to 2-3 lawyers before deciding if you will pursue your case or not.
2. When you have already chosen a lawyer, the lawyer will discuss to you the fees that you will incur. Initially, you have to pay your lawyer acceptance fee. The acceptance fee for annulment cases is Php150k and up. Some lawyers will already shoulder the filing fee in court, but if your lawyer will not shoulder it, it costs P1000+. Every time your lawyer represents you, he/she will ask for appearance fee. Appearance fee costs Php2000 and up. Some lawyers ask for transportation allowance apart from appearance fee. Your lawyer will represent you during preliminary hearing (at least 3x), during actual hearing (this happens 3-4 times a year. Your lawyer will still ask for appearance even if the hearing got postponed on the day itself due to the absence of the judge). Annulment cases can run for a minimum of two years. If your annulment case is due to psychological causes, you still have to hire a psychologist to give you a behavioral assessment. Hiring a psychologist can cost Php50,000+. The psychologist also has to stand as a witness in court. In my case, there is no need to hire a psychologist.
During preliminary hearings, the fiscal will assess if your annulment case has a probable cause. If the fiscal deems that you do not have a probable cause, your case will be dismissed and will not escalate to the court. If there is a probable cause, formal hearing will be set.
3. Attend all hearings. While you are represented by your lawyer, your lawyer will still require you to attend hearings. Dress casually during hearings (the court implements a dress code). Civil cases like annulment are also being heard and tried together with criminal cases so don't be shocked to see criminals with handcuffs on your hearing day. Sadly, there are only few family courts in the Philippines. Hearings are scheduled 3-4 times a year, sometimes it gets postponed due to some activities in the court. Most of the time, postponement happens on the hearing day itself.
4. After the last hearing, wait for the decision. It will be mailed to you via registered mail, but there is no harm on making follow-ups at the court. Usually, a court decision is being made 90 days after the last hearing, but some courts take longer time to come up with a decision. In my case, my last hearing was June 2016, the decision was made December 2016, and got the formal decision in March 2017.
5. Get a certified true copy of the court decision, at least three sets. You need it to process the change of your civil status. First, you have to go to the civil registry where your case was tried. They will issue another set of documents you needed for the annotation in your marriage certificate. I spent around Php2000 for this. Next, you have to go to the civil registry where your marriage contract was filed. I spent around Php700 here. After getting the annotated marriage contract, you can now go to PSA/NSO to secure an authenticated copy of your annotated marriage contract. Bring all the documents you got from the civil registry at PSA/NSO and check CDLI on the form. You have to pay Php140 for each copy that you will get from PSA/NSO.
6. Once you already have an authenticated copy of your PSA/NSO, you can already change your status (employment, government IDs, etc.). This is the final step that you will do to fix your civil status.
Whew! It's a long and tedious process, but after I got my authenticated marriage contract, it was worth all the wait!
Now, what's your reason for separation?
While I have given you information on how a nullity case was being tried and heard, I would still advise you to still try to reconcile with your partner. Pray to the Lord to give you wisdom in your decision-making, and if you think you have fallen out of love, pray that the Lord will rekindle the fire in your marriage. Consult a marriage counselor to help you and your partner sort out your differences. You may check out Regain.us for this kind of service here. The Philippine court is also into reconciliation, so better think carefully if you will pursue the annulment case or not. Lastly, learn to forgive. While it is difficult to forgive especially if your partner made a huge mistake in your relationship, ask the Lord to give you the grace to forgive your partner. The Lord has forgiven us in your sins, why can't we also forgive the shortcomings of our partner?
I may not have my forever in my previous relationship, but I know that I have an everlasting love of God. I still pray that the Lord will give me my forever and even if I had failed marriage, I still believe in marriage.