Is Your Filipina Sweetheart Already Married? Find Out with CENOMAR

I've had some recent emails from a few readers that have left me concerned. Seems that their Filipina sweetheart they have chatted with online and have come to visit in the Philippines have been scamming them. Said they were not married. Turns out they were. One even told my friend that she was divorced because she has been separated for so many years. Folks, there is NO DIVORCE LAW in the Philippines. Costly annulments are the only option for those trying to get out of a failed marriage. Good luck on getting one of those. Let me emphasize this: IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW LONG YOUR BEAUTIFUL FILIPINA HAS BEEN SEPARATED. SHE CANNOT LEGALLY MARRY IN THE PHILIPPINES NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS SHE HAS BEEN SEPARTED.


But Dave. I know of some couples that have married in the Philippines even though they were separated from their spouse. Oh, sure, you CAN get married in the Philippines even though you still have a living spouse, but it is not a LEGAL marriage. Try to get your new bride over to the United States, Canada, the U.K. or wherever you live. The Philippine government requires a "Legal Capacity to Marry" from the Embassy if you are not a citizen of the Philippines. From the U.S. State Department website:

Any foreigner who wishes to marry in the Philippines is required by the Philippine Government to obtain from his/her Embassy an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry" before filing an application for a marriage license.

So what's the problem? Well, the problem is that if your future spouse is lying to you and is still married, there will probably be a record of that marriage in the Philippines, and you will not be able to bring her over to the United States, assuming you are an American citizen.  But Dave, I know my sweetie isn't lying to me. She's a good girl. Well, tell that to the guys whose situation I mentioned earlier. Some of them already made the trip to the Philippines and found out their future brides were ALREADY MARRIED.


Listen guys. I've been married to a beautiful, patient Filipina for over 11 years. In my opinion the majority of Filipinas are like my wife: honest, caring, loyal and loving. However, if you want to be sure, if you have any doubts whatsoever, why waste your time and money? Is she married or not? Well, just go to the NSO, National Statistic Office (NSO) in the Philippines website,  plunk down 25 bucks with your credit card, and get
a Certificate of No Marriage Record (CENOMAR.) A CENOMAR is a certification issued by the NSO stating that a person has not contracted any marriage. Also called a certificate of No Record of Marriage or Certificate of Singleness. The NSO will mail the document to you.

 

Here's the information you will need for the NSO. Anyone can request the certificate since it is a public document. Doesn't have to be the person who is actually the object of the search.

  1. Complete name of the person
  2. Complete name of the father
  3. Complete maiden name of the mother
  4. Date of birth
  5. Place of birth
  6. Complete name and address of the requesting party
  7. Number of copies needed
  8. Purpose of the certification

But how do you tactfully ask your possible future Filipina spouse for this information? I asked my asawa of over 11 years if she would have been offended if I had made such a request from her. "Absolutely, not," The Sainted Patient Wife answered me. She had nothing to hide. If your loved one is not trying to conceal anything, it shouldn't be a problem for her to give you that information.

Here's more information:

In legal definitions for interpersonal status, a single person is someone who has never been married. A person who was previously married and is later  widowed, their status is usually considered as an "unmarried" person. If a marriage is annulled, however, or it is not valid in law to start with (such as being under the age of 18) that individual is single, rather than unmarried.

So if you have any doubts, why not use the CENOMAR process? Could save you a lot of grief and frustration and money in the future.

38 Comments

  1. A bunch of good information about the ins and outs of relationships here. There is one last piece of the puzzle for all you single guys out there. Adultry is a crime here in the Philippines. You can be imprisioned/fined/deported/extorted if you are caught with a married woman here.

    Dave’s advice should be taken seriously. I too have seen firsthand the damage that scammers do.

    Like Dave, I too found and Married a wonderful woman and the majority are just that. It’s that 10% you really need to be careful about.

    Paul in Iloilo

    • Thanks for your input, Paul. As an expat that has lived in the Philippines since 2002, you know what you’re talking about. Paul and I are a couple of fortunate guys, having found loving and loyal Filipinas. But, and again, Paul bears this out, watch out for the small minority of scammers out there. Don’t be so blinded by love, that you think your special someone may not be trying to scam you. Look for the warning signs and use some common sense.

  2. Ever hear of the tv show Locked up Abroad? Watch the episode “Forbidden Love”. About a British man that falls in love with a married, but separated filipina. She didn’t lie about her situation, but the jelous ex-husband made their lives miserable! They got charged with adultery. She got pregnant and the ex-husband filed charges. Unbelievable what they went through. Real eye opener.
    I’m married to a filipina. I never gave any of this stuff a thought. Thank God I found an honest woman!

    • Hi, Martin. I’ve watched “Locked Up Abroad,” but didn’t see that episode. I’ll definitely check out that story, thanks. Thanks to Paul from Iloilo for the tip on this issue. Good thing we all found honest Filipinas, huh? Lucky for us there’s lot of good ones out there. :-)

    • I watched that episode of “Locked up Abroad” I never saw so many mean looking Filipinos on TV at one time.

      • The meanest Filipino I’ve seen, Rob, is The Sainted Patient Wife when she’s angry with me. But I’m definitely going to check that episode out.

      • Thanks, Lance. Once I get my comments caught up for the day, I’ll check those links out. I’ve watched a lot of episodes of “Locked Up Abroad.” Many of the episodes deal with people who are drug mules and get caught. That’s been a big problem in the Philippines as of late with some Filipinos being executed in China for that offense.

      • Good definition of the “crab mentality,” Paul. Thanks for the link.

  3. I guess I lucked out also after being married for 43 years but I didn’t have to worry about scammers back when I got married because the military did a pretty good back ground check on the ladys which was wanting to marry military personel.

    • 43 years? Good for you, George! Nice to know Uncle Sam was looking at for you.

  4. Sorry to be late to comment on this one, Dave. It’s a very, very important subject.

    In addition to the occasional “scam artist” or “liar”, I find, sadly, there are a great many Filipinas who really don’t think they are married … but are. They could pass a lie detector test, because in their heart they feel they aren’t … but they are.

    I have several posts on this ‘am I married” subject and sometimes it’s literally heartbreaking. Women who married a school sweetheart and then went off to work overseas (or their husband did) and now, years later, are as far from legally married as they feel they can be … but they still are.

    I get all sorts of questions like, “Well didn’t such and such legal issue invalidate my marriage” and so on and so forth. Almost always it does not nullify the marriage.

    The law on marriage takes the view that marriages apparently meant to be legal are considered legal, even if there’s some flaw in the paperwork (the judge signed the form on the wrong line, a date is entered wrongly, etc., etc.)

    And even when there _is_ legal grounds that the marriage is invalid, the nullification always requires court action to approve it.

    Also I am glad someone else brought up the adultery issue. I’ve taken a lot of flack over the years by telling guys heading toward that arrangement, “do not do it, dude”.

    People somehow think I’m saying that just out of some old, archaic morality thinking. Well, actually, your morals are of no concern to me, it’s just plain illegals to cohabit with another man’s wife, and it’s not uncommon at all for a long-lost Filipino husband to suddenly appear, often with the idea of extorting money to make legal action go away. Or worse yet, with a gut full of gin and a bolo in his hand ready to take vengeance.

    This is a male dominated society and the fact that a man abandoned his wife by no means should be taken as permission that other men might have here.

    It’s a dangerous game, fellows. Don’t take her marital status lightly even if she says it’s nothing to worry about. She won’t go to jail, you might.

    • Great advice, Dave. I did some research about this post before I published it, and that “Well didn’t such and such legal issue invalidate my marriage” theme came up quite a bit. The lawyer whose website I found my info from said the same thing you did. The legal issues rarely nullify the marriage, and like you state, the nullification always requires court action to approve it.
      Guys, I would recommend a CENOMAR because Dave speaks the truth. This is not the States where you can dial “911,” and the police will come within minutes and rescue you. Believe me, the “gut full of gin and bolo in his hand” is a VERY REAL scenario here. Thanks for the advice, Dave, good stuff as usual.

  5. Dave,

    How many people on your website have done the Cenomar?

    I went through the process. A friend did this for me and mailed it to me. Obviously, MBA (my beautiful asawa) was single and is here in the USA now. I felt guilty because I thought it was a trust issue but it was the right thing to do. I found it about a month ago in a book. Luckily, MBA didn’t see it.

    • Good question, Jack. Let’s see how many responses we get. I don’t think you should feel guilty, you were just being smart. Glad things worked out for you.

      • The CENOMAR was required with I went though the K-1 process in early 2008.

        • Oh, Ok, John, didn’t know that. Well, in the case of a K-1 that makes sense. My wife and I got married in the Philippines, and she came over to the States on a Spousal Visa.

        • The CENOMAR has been part of the K-1 process for many years. However, only a relatively small percentage of Phil-Foreigner marriages occur at the end of the US K-1 process.

          In addition, in my view, waiting until you are already committed to marriage is too late to perform this check. Even for those going the K-1 route, waiting until the US Embassy demands the CENOMAR can cost hundreds of dollars and several months of time should the NSO “discover” a marriage that had not been disclosed. No sense in applying for a K-1 in the first place if there is a marriage “on the books”.

          I think you should obtain a CENOMAR long before dropping expensive K-1 paperwork … there’s no refund if the visa is denied.

          I think it’s something that ought to be done before you get to the point of proposing marriage.

          I do not offer such services, but certain companies do offer background investigations of girl friends/boy friends, and I highly recommend this be done.

          Of course in more than 10 years of being in the “Philippine Advice” business it’s been my exorbitance that perhaps 1 in 100 US men have any idea who they are marrying … many guys put more effort into buying a used car then they do acquiring a wife … and I have all the “OMG, I can’t believe this happened to me” emails to prove it.

          Love is a wonderful thing, but remember Ronald Reagan’s sage advice … Trust, but Verify.

          • … my experience …

          • I agree, Dave, that a person should use the CENOMAR process well in advance. To be honest, I was totally ignorant of CENOMAR until I received some emails from readers that have been chatting with Filipinas who were claiming to be divorced or single and turned out to be married. I was one of those fortunate guys (of which there are many) that married a Filipina who was, and is, the “real deal.” I wonder how I would have reacted if someone would have told me about this process and suggested I use it? I remember my Dad and some co-workers expressing some concerns about the possibility of my new love being a scammer and would leave me after she got her green card. It didn’t happen, but in retrospect, I would advise getting a CENOMAR if you find someone you truly would want to spend the rest of your life with. Could save yourself a lot of grief and money in the long run. Thanks for your input, Dave.

          • Great advice Dave Starr with the Ronald Reagon quote. A long distance relationship is very difficult. There are many stories on the internet of men being scammed and the stories are very easy to believe. I feel very lucky with finding Jho. The cenomar gave me peace of mind that I found someone I could trust.

  6. Dave,

    How is Lyn Lyn? Sorry but I forgot to ask. I am guessing things didn’t work out between Brother Tom and her.

    • Well, Jack, all I can say is that Brother Tom and Lyn Lyn went on a couple of more dates before Tom left for America. I will also inform you that when Tom returns to the Philippines, I am reasonably sure they will be seeing each other again. ;-)

  7. Hi Dave,
    Here is another scenario that I heard about from an attorney that I know. There is a gay foriegner that thought he could set up a sham marriage between him and the sister of his partner. Things worked out for a while until I guess the sister realized she was damaged goods or thought that she could make demands of him as his wife. She gets mad and files charges to have him deported. I don’t see this as a winning situation for the foriegner since he commited fraud. Maybe this is just as stupid as the guys that think they can sneak off to another place with a married woman and her children and not face some legal issues at a later date. Jealousy is an ugly green eyed monster that no one can outsmart. I have recently also been asked by a few lesbians if had friends that I could introduce to them. It made me wonder if they had a plan to switch teams for 2 years. I did mention that I might be half lesbian as I enjoy many of the same things that they do.

    • Interesting story, Tom. I had never really given much thought to that angle before. While it would be nice to think all of the marriages are being done for the right reason, love, I know that is not always the case. My wife had two Filipina acquaintances that only married their much older husband to get to the States. Fortunately the one girl’s scam was discovered after she divorced her older husband, and she was sent back to the Philippines.
      Switch teams? I had one gay friend at work who would jokingly tell me that if I would leave my wife she would switch teams for me. I’m still married to my asawa of 11+ years.

  8. I was just wondering. My fiancé and I would like to get married in the states but she is still married
    In the Philippines. She told me that she was married before we even got together. Her husband is homosexual and she filed for annulment but is waiting now for it to go through. So my question is can she and I get married in the states while she is still married in the Philippines?

    • Nope, Drew, the NSO, National Statistic Office, would still show her status as “married,” even though she has filed for annulment. Once her marriage is annulled than the NSO would have to have their records updated with that new “single status.” The Philippine government, in my opinion, will not issue her a visa to leave the country without that updated status. That said, I am certainly not a immigration lawyer, and if any of my readers have any input on Drew’s question, I would greatly appreciate it. Good luck to you, Drew, and keep us posted if you will.

      • I have a question regarding Drews question. I too am wanting to marry but she is married. If she can some how get here to the U.S. and get a divorce here would we be able to marry here?

        • Dean, I’m curious as to what kind of visa do you think she could use to come to the US in the first place?
          You obviously cannot bring her over to the States on a K-1 Fiancee or Spousal Visa since she is married. Tourist visa? Not likely. Unless she has a good job with plenty of money in the bank, it’s unlikely she’ll get over to the US that way.

  9. hi im a filipina married to an australian.we got married here in Philippines 3yrs ago. i need some help how to find out if he’s been married to any filipina here in philippines after me. i love him much but i feel he’s hiding something from me..im so confused i wanted to know the truth.. hope someone there could help me

  10. Hi i like your page and im hoping to get an idea from other people that checks this page too. Im 43 y/0 married woman but separated. I have three teen kids ages 17,16,14. I met an american guy from online and he wants me to visit him the US. He said he will tour me to disneyland in florida and everywhere else. He said ill just stay there for two to three weeks but its up to me if i wanted to stay long too. He asked a lawyer’s advice in california and was charged $2,000 but didnt get the positive news from lawyer. Lawyer said i cant go visit him coz i am married. All im just asking is a tourist visa…Can anyone here help and give me some advice on what to do please?

    • Jean, I spoke to an official from the U.S. Embassy in Manila last year and asked him about the tourist visa, the area of expertise he handles. His first answer was that it is not difficult to obtain a tourist visa. I expressed surprise at his response. I’ve heard information to the contrary, I replied. He said it is not difficult IF you qualify. And what do you need to qualify? If you have a good reason to return to the Philippines such as a good income, job, a house, plus education also figures into the equation. He confided to me that it does absolutely NO GOOD to have someone sponsor you or recommend you for a visa. You have to meet the qualifications on your own. Good luck on your tourist visa request.

  11. Thanks for the infos..I appreciate it

  12. Hi Dave, I’m married and have a kid but separated for over 3yrs now. Me and my Filipino ex-husband are close relatives like first cousins and we found out about that just after we got married plus our marriage didn’t work out because of other issues. He’s living with his woman in the same roof for over a year now. He doesn’t care much about our son and even before when we were still together. He was occasionally hurting him since he was a month old baby, one big reason why we separated. Now, I met this American guy from an online dating site and fell in love with each other. I never lied to him about my status and everything. I truly, sincerely love him Dave and he loves me too despite of everything. He wants us to get married next year so we can be together for good. Our only problem is my status. If I’m going to go through annulment process it will take years till we can get married and though he’s willing to wait, we are still hoping we can find an easier, faster solution to get married on 2014. I hope you could help and give some advice on this. Thank you.

    • Hi Anne. Have you heard the expression “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news?” I’m sorry to say I have only bad news. Keep in mind I do not in any way, shape or form resemble a lawyer. What I have to offer you is only my opinion gleaned from talking to other Filipinas and foreigners in your same predicament. I have a sister-in-law that has been separated for years (doesn’t matter if you’ve been separated for 99 years, you’re still legally married in the Philippines) and have one sister-in-law who married another Filipino guy while still legally married to her first husband. Her second husband has since left my sister-in-law and has many girlfriends.

      Doesn’t matter if your husband has a live in girlfriend. You could try and press adultery charges against your husband but that won’t nullify your marriage, probably only make him very angry. And infidelity is not grounds for annulment.

      Annulment? Good luck. It will cost you hundreds of thousands of pesos and there is no guarantee the American will be able to bring you to the States. I personally know of couples that did get annulments but the Filipina wife was still denied entry into America.

      Is is possible to obtain an annulment? If you’re the rich and famous, no problem. I’ve seen figures where 95% of annulments are denied. But I do know of cases where annulments were magically granted in the wink of an eye. How? You just have to know the right judge.

      Good luck, Anne. Go to this website which has a very detailed section on annulments in the Philippines if you would like more information. Take care.

  13. Hmmmm, good to know that, Alan. Thanks for sharing that. When are you going to make it to Guimaras? Brother Tom is leaving tomorrow. Hope we can meet up some time. Take care.

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