Annulment costs and conjugal properties

By Katrina Legarda
Tags: philippine constitution,Philippine ConstitutionAnnulment costs and conjugal properties,Annulment costs and conjugal propertiesphilippine constitution Philippine Constitution
Hello, I answer a letter from the mailbox this week. Here goes.

Good pm Madam Katrina Legarda, before I'll start my queries I just want you to know that I admire your strong personality and intelligence. To start with, I’m planning to file for an annulment case with my husband; we separated 6 yrs. ago as in we're not living together anymore. My big problem is the huge fee for filing it because I don't have enough money for that. May I know the approximate standard cost for an annulment case, from the beginning until the case is finish? Secondly, what if he don't want to cooperate with the case is there a possibility that the said case will take a long period of time? How long usually this kind of case last? In the case of our properties what if he doesn’t want to give me my share? Hoping for your reply. Thank you so much.

Hello, “Jane,”

It amazes me that no matter how often I write about marital matters, letters like yours continue to come in! Anyway, you want to know about the costs and procedure of a petition for nullity of marriage. You must go and see a lawyer, a family lawyer.

If you are certified by your barangay and the DSWD to be an indigent, you can ask the court to allow you to litigate as a pauper. This means that you will be exempt from filing and other court fees. Note, however, that if you have properties, you will not be considered a pauper. What you can do is to ask the lawyer to file a motion with the court to be given time to pay the filing fees due. Some courts allow this. It is not cheap to marry; and it is certainly not cheap to have that marriage declared void.

If you are an indigent, the Public Attorney’s Office (or PAO) can handle your nullity case. Otherwise, you may want to check out the services of the nearest Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) office. There is usually one in the city hall. If you live near the University of the Philippines, you may want to ask at the Office of the Legal Aid located in the College of Law. All these agencies will first determine your ability or inability to pay legal fees.

If you are one of the millions who are neither impoverished nor rich, then I am afraid you will have to go to a private lawyer. Their costs vary, and you get what you pay for. Some lawyers require an up-front fee which they say will include the whole case. Others will require an acceptance fee, fees for meetings and hearings attended costs of litigation, and other fees. Others will charge you at the end a percentage of the value of the property you may be given. Go to one you trust. Ask the IBP to recommend one for you.

Make sure that whoever lawyer you choose, you insist on a written contract that states the fees and the services to be rendered. Make sure you understand what you are signing. And to answer your question, you better prepare at least P100,000.00 for your case.

As for your conjugal or community propriety, if you and your husband fight bitterly over properties, you can expect to stay in court for years, thereby escalating your legal fees. It is best that you settle this matter before you file in court. If you can’t, the court will require you both to undergo mediation. If that is unsuccessful, you will have to prove many things, like ownership, possession, titles, and so forth.

The only way you will not be given your share in the conjugal or community property is if you cannot prove that these properties belong to you and your husband. Make sure you have all documents ready to prove your claims. There is no such thing as “he said, she said” when you are trying to have property placed in your name.

Good luck.