Dear PAO,

I married a Japanese national who turned out to be a violent person. Eventually, I sought a divorce in the Office of the Mayor here in Japan because that is allowed under their laws. I wanted to have my divorce recognized in the Philippines, and I was told that the Divorce Report which I obtained from the said office cannot be used in my petition, as I must present a Divorce Decree. Unfortunately, the Office of the Mayor in Japan does not issue a Divorce Decree.

Ms. Z

Dear Ms. Z,

First of all, we are sorry to learn that your marriage did not work out. But it is a good thing that you found your way out of what seems to be an abusive marriage. No person should endure a destructive relationship. While there is nothing wrong with loving another person especially if that person is our spouse, we should also put loving ourselves on top of our priorities.

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As to your legal query, there is a ruling by our Supreme Court recognizing the evidentiary value of a Divorce Report that was lawfully secured from the Office of the Mayor in Japan, particularly in the City of Fukuyama. In the decision, the Supreme Court clearly elucidated:

"x x x Records show that the Divorce Report is what the Government of Japan issued to petitioner and her husband when they applied for divorce. There was no 'divorce judgment' to speak of because the divorce proceeding was not coursed through Japanese courts but through the Office of the Mayor of Fukuyama City in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. In any event, since the Divorce Report was issued by the Office of the Mayor of Fukuyama City, the same is deemed an act of an official body in Japan. By whatever name it is called, the Divorce Report is clearly the equivalent of the 'Divorce Decree' in Japan, hence, the best evidence of the fact of divorce obtained by petitioner and her former husband.

"Notably, the fact of divorce was also supported by the Certificate of All Matters issued by the Japanese government to petitioner's husband Minoru Takahashi, indicating the date of divorce, petitioner's name from whom he got divorced and petitioner's nationality as well, thus:

"x x x

"More, petitioner submitted below a duly authenticated copy of the Divorce Certificate issued by the Japanese government. x x x

"Still another, the Divorce Report, Certificate of All Matters, and Divorce Certificate were all authenticated by the Japanese Embassy. These are proofs of official records which are admissible in evidence under Sections 19 and 24, Rule 132 of the Rules on Evidence, x x x" (In Re: "Petition for Judicial Recognition of Divorce Between Minuro Takahashi and Juliet Rendora Moraña," GR No. 227605, Dec. 5, 2019, Ponente: Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier).

Based on the foregoing, a Divorce Report, along with all the other pertinent documents relating to the divorce lawfully obtained in Japan, may be submitted as evidence to support a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce. Note though that the documents you intend to present in court must be duly authenticated in accordance with the rules for it to be admitted in evidence.

At this point, it will be more prudent for you to seek legal advice and/or assistance from a lawyer, preferably of your own choice, so that you may be properly counseled and guided in the filing of your petition.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor's note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney's Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to [email protected]