Published 17 March 2023, The Daily Tribune
Venue is one of the requirements in a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable marriages or a petition for legal separation.
On 24 January, the Supreme Court en banc issued a resolution approving the 2023 Amendments to Section 4 of AM No. 02-11-10-SC (Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages) and Section 2(c) of AM No. 02-11-11-SC (Rule on Legal Separation) (2023 Amendments).
Section 4 of AM No. 02-11-10-SC and Section 2(c) of AM No. 02-11-11-SC provide that the petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines at the election of the petitioner.
The 2023 Amendments add circumstance that if both the petitioner and the respondent are residing abroad for employment, business, education, or any other purpose, the petition shall be filed in the Family Court: (1) in the habitual residence of either party, at the election of the petitioner; or (2) in the place where the petitioner and respondent last resided as husband and wife in the Philippines.
If only the petitioner is residing abroad, the venue should be the place of residence of the respondent in the Philippines.
Over the years, the Supreme Court set stricter guidelines when it came to the venue.
In the Supreme Court’s Resolution dated 2 October 2018, the High Court issued guidelines for validating compliance with the jurisdictional requirements (residence of the petitioner) in Petitions for Annulment, Nullity of Marriage, and Legal Separation.
In the said Resolution, the petitioner is mandated to state in the petition the complete address of the parties in the petition (i.e., house number, street, purok/village/subdivision, barangay, zone, town, city, and province).
To prove the petitioner’s residence, the petitioner shall attach the following:
(1) sworn certification of residency by the petitioner (with house location sketch) issued by the barangay;
(2) sworn statement of counsel of record that he/she has personally verified the petitioner’s residency and that the petitioner had been residing thereat for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition; and
(3) supporting documents to prove residency, such as but not limited to:
(a) Utility bills in the name of the petitioner for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition;
(b) Government-issued ID or Company ID bearing the photograph and address of the petitioner and issued at least six months prior to the filing of the petition;
(c) Notarized lease contracts, if available, and/or receipts for rental payments (bearing the address of the petitioner) for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition; or
(d) Transfer Certificate of Title, Tax Declaration, or Deed of Sale, and the like, in the name of the petitioner where he/she resides.
The 2018 Resolution also provides that the petition can be dismissed on the following grounds:
(1) If the petitioner failed to state, in the petition, the required information and attach the required documents;
(2) If it appears that the address alleged in the verified petition is false or if it appears from the registry return/s that either party is unknown at the given address;
(3) If the petitioner failed to comply with the residency requirement, without prejudice to refiling it in the proper venue; and
(4) If the petition was filed at the respondent’s place of residence and summons could not be served by reason that the respondent is not actually residing at the given address.
The officials, parties, or representatives who submit a false certification or document shall be held liable for indirect contempt, without prejudice to criminal and/ or administrative liabilities.