While most of the world has legalized absolute divorce, the Philippines have not. But legalalized divorce may be coming to the Philippines after the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved, in principle, several bills on divorce and dissolution of marriage.
A Thrilla in Manila
Going much further to modernize its family laws, in fact, the House committee on population and family relations has approved in principle eight bills on divorce. The bills will be consolidated into a substitute measure by a technical working group.
According to Representatives:
The Philippines is now the only country that has not legalized absolute divorce. Till death do us part, is wonderful. Marriage is beautiful. But only for those who get it right.
Currently, the only legal ways for a married couple to separate are separation in the Philippines. Even by the standards of former Spanish colonies, the Philippines has very socially conservative laws. It is the only country in world, bar the Vatican City, to outlaw divorce.
Historically, the only way of ending a marriage in the Philippines, short of dying, is to have it annulled, but that can be done only on narrow grounds and at great expense. Abortion is illegal, too, and anyone undergoing or performing one risks up to six years in prison.
The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.
I’ve written about international divorce issues before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your husband’s alleged infidelity. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.
No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.
Possibilities in the Philippines
In the Philippines, more modern laws have replaced older Spanish civil laws, which only referred to relative divorce or legal separation. The laws have allowed divorce on the ground of criminal conviction for adultery or concubinage. However, most couples filed for dissolution of marriage from 2009 to 2022, records show.
But apart from the expensive and long process of annulment and dissolution of marriage, annulments and dissolutions of marriage for cause are also complicated in the Philippines:
“Unlike in a divorce proceeding which it is mandated to be inexpensive, affordable and expeditious poor women are left without options, but we surprisingly see rich personalities able to expedite annulment they have the money.”
In annulments – and dissolutions of marriage based on psychological incapacity, – causes must exist before or contemporaneous with the celebration of the marriage.
Some groups have expressed opposition to the divorce bills. Many argue the bills are contrary to the constitutional mandate to strengthen and protect the family as a basic autonomous social institution and marriage as an inviolable social institution.
Another group, however, countered that having divorce is important, especially if the husband or wife is in an abusive relationship. Allowing married spouses trapped in irremediably broken marriages to break free and start anew.
The Philippine Catholic Church has strongly opposed the measure, calling it “anti-marriage and anti-family.” The catechism of the Catholic Church considers divorce a “grave offense” against natural law as “it claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other ’till death.”
However, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, meanwhile, said it is supportive of the bill recognizing church annulment:
“We are not supportive of the bill on absolute divorce but we are actually supportive of the bill recognizing church annulments. It’s going to be cheaper than the usual one.”
It is claimed that the bill legalizing divorce in the Philippines will ease the burden on separated or irreconcilable couples. They can go on their separate way and be free to remarry a new spouse. Broken homes are prevalent anyway among families, even without divorce.
The CNN Philippines article is here.