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MANILA, Philippines – After hours and hours of consultations here and abroad, the

House committee on population and family relations approved on Wednesday,


February 21, a bill that seeks to introduce divorce and the dissolution of marriage in
the Philippines.

It’s expected to be yet another controversial measure, especially since the


Philippines is one of only two countries in the world that does not allow divorce as a
means to end a marriage. The other is the Vatican, the seat of the Roman Catholic
Church.

The proposed measure's champions in the House are pushing for divorce as a
cheaper and faster means for couples to end their marriages. In the Philippines,
annulments can cost upwards of P250,000 and can take up to decades to resolve.

What’s inside the bill? Here’s a summary:

Why a divorce law?

Section 2 of the bill, or its declaration of policy, says that while the Philippines
“continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the
foundation of the family,” divorce would give a chance for couples to terminate “a
continuing dysfunction of a long broken marriage.”

In doing this, the bill says it hopes to “save the children from pain, stress and agony
consequent to their parents’ constant marital clashes” and “grant the divorced
spouses the right to marry again for another chance at marital bliss.”

Key points in the law

Lawmakers have made it a point, since the very start, for divorce in the Philippines
to be cheaper and more efficient than annulment, which is currently the only way to
end a marriage in the predominantly Catholic nation.

During the committee’s deliberations on February 21, the members agreed that
litigation and fees would be waived for “indigent” divorce applicants. They would also
be entitled to lawyers assigned by the court.

For the purpose of the law, “indigents” are defined as those whose real properties
are below P5 million, an amount proposed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Deputy
Speaker Pia Cayetano explained that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) they
consulted had specifically asked that the process would be affordable or would not
cost them a year's salary.

Even if divorce is introduced, married couples can still seek legal separation or
annulment of marriage, if they wish.

Those who file for divorce will need to observe a 6-month “cooling off period,” as a
last-ditch effort to reconcile the couple. This is waived in cases of domestic abuse or
if there is danger against one spouse or a child.

“Pro-woman” is part of the bill’s guiding principles, citing “most cases” wherein the
wife needs to seek one in order to walk away from an abusive relationship.

An eventual divorce decree includes provisions for the case and custody of children,
protection of the children’s legitime or inheritance, the termination and liquidation of
conjugal partnerships of gains or absolute community, and alimony for the “innocent
spouse.”

The State, as stated in the bill’s guiding principles, “has the role of strengthening
marriage and family life” through programs, both before and after the marriage.

The proposed law also gives space for couples who might have a change of heart.
If, in the middle of proceedings, the couple decides to reconcile, the process will be
terminated. While the decree of absolute divorce will be set aside, the separation of
properties and forfeiture of the share of the guilty spouse will subsist, unless the
couple reverts back to the former property regime.

If the court finds that one party is coercing another to file for divorce, he or she may
be punished with imprisonment of 5 years and a P200,000-fine.

The eventual implementing rules and regulations for the law will be drafted by
several agencies led by the Department of Justice. The Department of Social
Welfare and Development, the Philippine Commission on Women, the National
Youth Commission, and at least two representatives from women’s groups will be
part of the team that will craft it.

What are the grounds?

The grounds listed include existing grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of
the Family Code, and annulment under Article 45 of the same code:
 Physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the
petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner
 Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change
religious or political affiliation
 Final judgement sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more
than 6 years, even if pardoned
 Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling of the
respondent
 Homosexuality of the respondent
 Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage,
whether in the Philippines or abroad
 Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person
other than one’s spouse during the marriage, except when the spouses
have agreed to a having a child through in vitro or a similar procedure,
or when the wife bears a child as a result of being a rape victim
 Attempt against the life of the petitioner, a common child, or a child of
the petitioner
 Abandonment without justifiable cause for more than a year
 Those legally separated by judicial decree for more than two years can
also avail of divorce
 One of the spouses was older than 18 but younger than 21 at the time
of marriage without the consent of a parent, guardian, or substitute
parental authority unless after the age of 21, the pair freely cohabitated
and lived together
 Either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to
reason, freely cohabilitated with the other
 The consent of one party was obtained through fraud unless, despite
after knowing the fraud, continued to cohabit as husband and wife
 That the consent of one party was obtained by force, intimidation, or
undue influence, unless despite the cessation of such, the pair
continued to cohabit
 That either party was incapable of consummating the marriage with the
other, and the incapacity continues or appears to be incurable
 That either party is afflicted with a sexually transmissible infection that is
serious or appears to be incurable

The bill introduces the following additional grounds:

 Separation for at least 5 years at the time the petition is filed, with
reconciliation “highly improbable,” except if the separation is due to the
overseas employment of one or both spouses in different countries, or
due to the employment of one of the spouses in another province or
region distant from the conjugal home
 Psychological incapacity of other spouse as defined in Article 36 of the
Family Code, whether or not the incapacity was present at the time of
marriage or later
 When one of the spouses undergoes gender reassignment surgery or
transition from one sex to another
 Irreconcilable marital differences and conflicts resulting in the “total
breakdown of the marriage beyond repair” despite the efforts of both
spouses

How does divorce work?

For qualified indigent petitioners, the court will waive the payment of filing fees and
other litigation costs. It will also appoint a counsel de oficio or a lawyer for the
petitioner, as well as assigned social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, to
assist the petitioner and the court.

This provisions ensures that those with real properties below P5 million can afford
the process. During consultations, lawmakers were told that the cost of annulment –
from the filing to the hiring of experts – was simply too prohibitive.

Couples can file jointly a petition for absolute divorce on the grounds of de facto
separation for 5 years, legal separation for at least two years, or irreconcilable
differences. Those with children should also come up with a joint plan over their
parenthood arrangements.

Collusion between spouses is not allowed.

OFWs, as Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman earlier said, will be
given preference when it comes to hearing their petitions.

Summary proceedings can happen in case of couples who have been separated for
at least 5 years, a bigamous marriage, legal separation for at least two years,
sentence of imprisonment for at last 6 years, and sex reassignment surgery. –
Rappler.com

Unfounded fears

But former Gabriela party-list Representative Liza Maza says, the fear that most married couples will
avail of divorce is unfounded.
"Divorce is an option for marriages experiencing irreparable breakdown. This is not for happy
marriages."

Maza adds that a measure providing divorce as an option would, in fact, ensure the survival of
problem-ridden families.

"A strong family marked by violence violates the sanctity of marriage."

WHY FORCE UNHAPPY PARTNERS TO STAY?

MANILA - Chronic unhappiness and a no-fault divorce have been dropped in the consolidated
proposal to legislate absolute divorce in the Philippines that is pending in a panel of the House of
Representatives.

A technical working group (TWG) of the committee on population and family relations approved for
endorsement to the main committee an unnumbered substitute bill that consolidates 4 bills, including
proposals from TWG Chair Edcel Lagman, Representative Ace Barbers, Gabriela Party-List and the
group of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

 Lawmakers consolidate divorce bills

Lagman said no-fault divorce is not allowed in their proposal "because this could be a possible
ground for collusion of the parties."

"As a matter of fact, in all of these grounds, the office of the public prosecutor in provinces, cities
and capital towns is authorized to conduct investigations to find out whether or not the parties are in
collusion, and there are severe penalties for parties found guilty of collusion," he said.

Under the bill, the penalty for collusion is a prison term of not less than 5 years and a fine of
P200,000.

"That will just underscore the commitment of the state to protect the sanctity of the marriage as a
foundation of the family," Lagman said.

He also explained why it dropped the Alvarez bill’s proposal to include chronic unhappiness as a
ground for divorce.

 Alvarez on dissolution of marriage: Why force unhappy partners to stay?

“With respect to irreconcilable differences and with respect to right of spouses to file a joint petition,
we have already removed the ground of chronic unhappiness. It's hard to determine, it's so subjective.
It approximates an esoteric ground," he said.

Alvarez has publicly admitted being in another relationship after a public separation from his wife.

 House Speaker introduces girlfriend as 'current wife'


 Speaker willing to marry girlfriend despite married
 House Speaker introduces girlfriend as 'current wife'

Lagman, however, said the bill would give judges latitude to determine irreconcilable differences in a
marriage.

“We have a generic definition of irreconcilable differences, which would result to total breakdown of
the family, and the differences are so grave that the parties cannot reconcile despite repeated efforts.
But this is a general provision on irreconcilable differences because the statute should not make hard
and fast definitions, which may exclude other circumstances within the the concept of irreconcilable
differences," he said.

"We follow the suggestion of the Supreme Court in one case that it would be good for Congress not
to make a categorical definition of psychological incapacity because that definition could be
constrictive, that other circumstances within the ground will be excluded. According to SC, it will be
best to address this in a case-to-case basis so that the court will be able to adjust its decisions
according to prevailing circumstances," he added.

'SEXUAL REASSIGNMENT' A GROUND FOR DIVORCE

Lagman said the grounds for absolute divorce are the same as the existing grounds for legal
separation, annulment of marriage, and nullification of marriage--more particularly on psychological
incapacity--but there are additional grounds, such as de facto separation for 5 years and the marriage
is "irremediable or beyond repair," or when the spouses have already gotten a judicial decree of legal
separation for 2 or more years.

 Divorce bill, umusad sa Kamara

Irreconcilable differences which have resulted to the total breakdown of the marriage and despite
earnest efforts the spouses cannot reconcile is also among the grounds, he said.

Lagman also said that another ground would be one of the spouses has undergone a sex change
operation or what is known as sexual reassignment surgery.

This proposal will be inexpensive and faster compared to present processes for ending marriages, he
said.

“Indigent litigants or petitioners will be given the opportunity to file their petitions without paying
the filing fees and other costs of litigation. The court will appoint counsel de oficio for said litigant
who are indigent and the court will also assign social workers, psychologist and psychiatrist to assist
the petitioners and also to assist the court," he said.

Lagman said some grounds can be resolved through ex parte or without a full-blown trial.

“There are also provisions here where some grounds can be subject to summary judicial procedure,
in which case there will be a more speedy resolution of the case without much technicalities and the
court can conduct a presentation of evidence ex parte when warranted by the circumstances in
divorce proceedings," he said.
Under the summary procedure, the decision of the court will be final and executory immediately, he
added.

The petition can be filed by one of the spouses or jointly in certain circumstances or grounds, he said.

DIVORCE FOR OFWs

Lagman said that under the proposal, overseas Filipino workers will be entitled to some preferences
when applying for an absolute divorce.

”If the petitioner is an OFW, then the court will give the petitioner preference in the scheduling of
hearing and the court shall allow presentation of evidence upon the availability of the petitioner OFW
and the hearing with respect to presentation of evidence will be set for not more than 2 continuous
days," he said.

For Lagman, their proposal would allow divorces to be finalized in a matter of months.

“In summary proceedings where the ground is the other party contracted bigamous marriage, all that
has to be presented is a second marriage, which is invalid or a decision of court convicting the party
of bigamy. Nothing else will have to be presented,” he said.

However, Lagman said there is a 6-month "cooling-off period" between the time a petition is filed
and when the court actually starts working on the case.

“Again, this is just to emphasize the concern of the state that as much as possible, marriages should
be preserved. This is a mandatory 6-month cooling-off period after the petition is filed. The court
will not start the trial before the lapse of the 6-month mandatory cooling period, wherein the court
will actively intervene in attempting to reconcile the parties. However, this cooling-off period will
not apply to cases of violence against women and children, and cases of attempt against the life of the
petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner,” he said.

Lagman said the proposal is significantly cheaper than the P250,000 cost of annulment proceedings
today.

"If petitioner is indigent, he or she will be freed from filing fees and other cost of litigation. If they
are not indigent, they will have to have their own lawyers, pay their professional fees [and the fees]
of the psychiatrist, psychologist and social worker," he said.

Lagman said the bill will also make it easy for couples to reconcile, with a provision that would
underscore the government's concern on the preservation of marriage.

"Despite the fact that parties already filed petition for divorce or even after the divorce had been
already decreed, if they want to reconcile, they will have to file a joint manifestation before the court
on their desire to reconcile, and upon the discretion of the court, the proceedings will be terminated at
any stage of the divorce proceedings," he said.

"If the divorce had already been granted, then it will be set aside to allow the parties to really
reconcile but the reconciliation should not adversely affect the interest of the children and also it
should protect the interest of marriages," he added.
Alvarez's bid to have the proposal named “dissolution of marriage” instead of “divorce" was also
junked by the Lagman panel.

“We have maintained the original proposition in my HB 116 that it should be called absolute divorce
this time. Let’s call a spade a spade,” he said.

Last week, Alvarez playfully referred to his proposal as D.O.M, for dissolution of marriage, though
the D.O.M acronym is often used to refer to dirty old men.

Divorce critic, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, however, said he would have to study the proposals first
even as he noted "the effect of a broken family to the children.”

Asked about the plight of couples where there is a risk of violence, Alejano said: "If that is the
problem, it’s hard for us to apply for annulment. I think we should look at that provision of that law
in order to provide sanctuary or option for that kind of relationship.

"Yun ang tignan natin: paano yan mapagaang instead of being a prohibitive undertaking. Dapat na-
address yung problema.”

Lagman, for his part, said, “the guiding principles also highlighted that this divorce bill is a pro-
woman legislation because in most cases, it is the wife who is entitled to an absolute divorce in order
to be liberated from an abusive situation and also for her to regain her dignity and self respect.”

If a limb is hopelessly gangrenous and a torture, why not amputate it?

It is a fact that countless marriages have turned sour, to the point of having violent
consequence. Pretending to be “happily married” is the name of the game for many
of them. Allowing them to divorce would be positive for them, so they could go their
separate ways to find their real soul mates. Not allowing them would be cruelty of
the highest order. Unlike divorce, marriage annulment is a long, tedious and costly
process.

Germi Sison, Cabanatuan City: Legalizing divorce in the Philippines will ease the
burden of 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. Others, however, may be wont to abuse this law, with no more
second thought on getting married, as when they find it as a wrong decision, divorce
will be the answer. I see no benefit, however, for the country, except for keeping up
with the Joneses.

Pong Tenazas, Quezon City: Yes, of course. Though we wish all married couples
the very best in life, we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that there really are
broken relationships, no matter how we try to fix them. That’s why we have to deal
with it by legalizing divorce. I hope there are better solutions, though.

Dondon Bautista, Metro Manila: Kung sa Rome, mayroon divorce, why not in the
Philippines? We are only one of two countries in the world that does not recognize
divorce. Brazil is made up of 80 per cent Catholics but divorce is legal.

Jim Veneracion, Naga City: It would indirectly be beneficial to the Philippines,


while directly benefitting many couples that have long suffered from failed
relationships. Notwithstanding the expected opposition of the church, divorce would
be a welcome relief to the ever-increasing number of failed marriages. Let’s face it,
it’s like hell on earth living in an irreconcilable marriage, and it could even shorten
your life because of the stress. Lastly, divorce is most practical and is in keeping with
the modern times.

“We cannot deny the reality that there are marriages that turn sour. There are marriages that are abusive,
even violent and there are bigamous marriages. We need to address this reality and give couples in these
failed marriages the option of divorce.” – GWP Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL


Bulatlat.com
MANILA – There are nineteen victims of marital violence every day. In 2009, wife battery ranked highest
among cases of violence against women at 72 percent, victimizing 6,783 women. About three out of ten
perpetrators of violence against women are husbands of the victims, according to Philippine National
Police (PNP).

Some 800 cases for legal separation and annulment are filed every month before the Office of the
Solicitor General. Over 43,650 applications were recorded from 2001 to 2007.

These are the bases of Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) for introducing House Bill 1799 or “An Act
Introducing Divorce in the Philippines.”

The GWP said that HB 1799 is based on the concrete experiences of married Filipinos. “These
experiences were studied in their religious, socio-economic, political, cultural and legal context. Lessons
and insights were drawn up, and from these lessons, the provisions of HB 1799 were formulated.”

GWP Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan cited studies showing that not all countries that allow divorce have a high
divorce rate. Divorce statistics show that In Italy, only 12 percent of marriages end in divorce, while in
Spain it is 17 percent. Both countries are predominantly Catholic.

The Catholic Church believes allowing divorce would lead to a breakdown of the family. Others who are
likewise opposed to the bill thinks that a divorce law would be abused. Rep. Ilagan asserted that there are
enough safeguards to prevent the divorce law from being abused. “The bill has five grounds before a
divorce is granted and the couple has to undergo a rigorous process. Divorce will not be granted just
because a husband or a wife is bothered by the other’s snoring. This is not like divorce Las Vegas style,”
Ilagan said.
Rep. Ilagan also said that HB 1799 is not modeled after divorce systems of other countries; they call it
divorce-Filipino style. “And it is sensitive to the rich and diverse cultural – including moral and religious –
environment of our country.”

Divorce guarantees women’s rights


The progressive women’s group Gabriela said that divorce provides an option to women who want to get
out of abusive and unhappy marriages. “This measure will benefit women, especially those who are
victims of domestic violence,” Lana Linaban, secretary general of Gabriela, said.

From 2009 to March 2011, there were 1,452 cases of marital violence that have been referred to
Gabriela. This constituted 67 percent of the total number of cases of violence against women that were
handled by Gabriela. Domestic violence consistently ranks highest among cases of violence against
women (VAW) that Gabriela has been handling.

“The divorce bill seeks to provide a remedy for couples who have come to a point where their marriage is
beyond repair. We trust that the bill will especially benefit women who are in abusive relationships and
want to get out of their marriage but are constrained by the inadequacy of existing remedies concerning
the legal termination of marriage,” Linaban added.

According to the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey released recently, 50 percent of respondents
agreed that “couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to
divorce so that they can get married again.”

Ilagan noted that the recent survey result is a big jump from the results in 2005 that showed that only 43
percent favored divorce. This, she said, reflects the growing need for divorce as an additional remedy for
failed and abusive marriages.

“We cannot deny the reality that there are marriages that turn sour. There are marriages that are abusive,
even violent and there are bigamous marriages. We need to address this reality and give couples in these
failed marriages the option of divorce,” Ilagan said.

Divorce vs other legal remedies


There are already legal remedies available in the Philippines to terminate a marriage. There is legal
separation, annulment and declaration of nullity, but these, according to GWP, are not enough.

“We cannot ignore the fact that existing laws just do not suffice. Getting an annulment can be very
expensive while legal separation will not give estranged couples the right to remarry,” said Ilagan.

Linaban explained: “It is not true that abused wives could easily file annulment to get out of their situation.
As provided for in the Family Code, annulment and declaration of nullity cover only grounds that
happened before marriage or during solemnization. In other words, the grounds should be pre-existing.
These remedies do not cover problems that occur during the life of the marriage such as spousal abuse.
While a woman can file for legal separation on the basis of domestic violence, the marriage is not
dissolved. The victim, therefore, remains married to her abuser.”

The Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB), a legal resource for women agreed that present laws relating to the
separation of couples and termination of marriage are inadequate to respond to the myriad causes of
failed marriages. “Particularly, the remedies of declaration of nullity and annulment do not cover the
problems that occur during the existence of marriage. Legal separation, on the other hand, while covering
problems during marriage, does not put an end to marriage.” A person who is separated can still be
charged with bigamy or concubinage, if and when he or she enters into another relationship.

Both divorce and declaration of nullity of a marriage, the WLB said, allow spouses to remarry but the two
remedies differ in concept and basis. “A declaration of nullity presupposes that the marriage is void from
the beginning and the court declares its non-existence…Beyond the grounds specified in the law of
nullity, it is not possible.”
“In an annulment, the marriage of the parties is declared defective from the beginning, albeit it is
considered valid until annulled. The defect can be used to nullify the marriage within a specified period
but the same may be ignored and the marriage becomes perfectly valid after the lapse of that period, or
the defect may be cured through some act. The defect relates to the time of the celebration of the
marriage and has nothing to do with circumstances occurring after the marriage is celebrated. In
annulment, the marriage is legally cancelled, and the man and woman are restored to their single status,”
the WLB said.

In an annulment case, the law requires the couple to prove that one is “psychologically incapacitated,”
and this incapacity must have existed before or at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Article 36 of
the Family Code only nullifies a marriage when one has proved that he or she is psychologically
incapacitated. The WLB said the concept certainly cannot accommodate all cases where divorce would
be necessary. “What we need is a divorce law that defines clearly and unequivocally the grounds and
terms for terminating a marriage,” it said.

An annulment case also takes two years or longer to reach a conclusion. The cost could reach P250,000
($5,813) which includes attorney fees, court docketing fee and filing fees plus a host of associated fees
such as court appearances fees for the attorney.

But, I really cannot understand how the divorce bill can be antimarriage and anti-
family. Is it not that the bill is an answer for those families, individuals and children
damaged by a disastrous marriage? How can it be antimarriage? Is the Church still
blind on the reality that there are marriages nowadays that are not meant to be? Is it
not aware of arranged marriages? Should it still bind people who are married just
because of the vow—till death do us part—even if they are now trying to kill each
other? I think now is the time for people from the Church to open their minds and
hearts to the reality of this generation.

Congresswoman Luzviminda Ilagan, representative of Gabriella Women's Party, is a co-


author of the new divorce bill.

"We see many famous or wealthy people getting annulments while those in lower
income brackets are not able," she says.
"It's the hypocrisy -- they say we must respect the sanctity of marriage yet they grant
annulments to select individuals."
Her proposed divorce bill is nicknamed "Divorce Philippine-style" because it will still
have strict conditions and eligibility requirements.
Married couples must have been living separately for a minimum of five years with no
hope of reconciliation to be eligible, or legally separated for at least two years.
"It's not like in Las Vegas or ... countries where there is no fault divorce," says Ilagan.
But the bill does promise to make the whole process quicker and cheaper -- up to 30-
40% less costly than legal separation or annulment. It would also provide procedures for
settling concerns, such as over property or financial support for the former spouse and
children.
The effect of the bill, says Monsod, "would be the empowerment of women, particularly
the poor.
"The grounds for annulment are very restrictive -- they do not include infidelity or
spousal abuse -- and the costs are prohibitive for them."
According to the Philippines' Solicitor General's office, 9,117 petitions for annulment of
marriage were filed in court in 2010, and only 133 cases filed for legal separation -- 61%
of these cases were filed by women.
Monsod says the bill would also remove "the discrimination that now exists in the
country on the grounds of religion: A Filipino who is Muslim is allowed to divorce; a
Filipino who is christian is not."
Although the controversial bill has support in Congress, many politicians are hesitant to
endorse it openly. Congressman Joey Zubiri, representative of Bukidnon, is one of the
few outspoken supporters so far.
"I believe that it is the right of people who are trapped in a formal relationship to be able
to get out of them," he tells CNN. "The 21st century Philippines should be a secular,
liberal, democratic state where no one particular faith is supposed to dominate affairs of
state."
By not allowing divorce, he says, the Philippines was allowing a religious group to
impose its values on everyone.
Congressman Zubiri describes the situation as the height of moral hypocrisy, and
believes the law gives people the opportunity to make a better choice after having made
a bad one.
"It will show people that there is a second chance," he says. "Many married women in
particular are trapped where they are abused, their children neglected, or husbands
openly philandering and essentially saying to them, 'What are you going to do about it,
as there is no divorce?'"
He says the option of divorce would "make people more careful on both sides, because
now there is a very distinct possibility that (the marriage) could end."
For women like Rowena, that can only be a welcome development.
"If the divorce bill becomes a law, I believe that more Filipina women will be empowered
to fight for their rights and for what is right," she says.
Divorce is something rather alien to Filipinos who are mostly Catholic. They even take pride
of being the only country not to have divorce (Vatican City hardly counts given its
demographics and “culture”). Despite this pride, there are a number of couples who are
separating.

If it is any indication, people are getting married for the wrong reasons and when they have
finally reached the point the marriage is beyond repair and couples have exhausted all means
to stay together, separation is the only option left. Although there is no divorce yet, legal
separation has been the compromise. Couples can separate but cannot remarry. Annulment of
marriage is a very tedious process that may take a year or so to complete before separated
couples can remarry.

Congress seemed to have solved the problem when it passed the bill (House Bill 7303)
authored by Rep. Edcel Lagman that would allow divorce in the country. The next step now
is the Senate where it will undergo the same process before it is approved and submitted to
the President who will sign it into law.

This bill intends to address failed marriages under limited grounds. This is to protect children
from the trauma resulting from their parents’ separation and allow divorced couples to
remarry with no legal and moral complications.

What Does This Divorce Bill Allow?


The bill spelled out what will be the grounds for divorce:

 Reasons stated in legal separation and annulment as stated in the Family Code of the Philippines.
All grounds for legal separation will also apply here.
 The couples have been separated (in fact) for a minimum of 5 years.
 Legally separated for at least 2 years.
 Gender reassignment surgery. Either couple underwent a sex change deemed unacceptable by
their partner.
 Irreconcilable differences for whatever reasons that were given upon filing.
Before they could even file for divorce, couples are given a mandatory 6-month “cooling
off” period to give them a chance to possibly save their marriage. This is to ensure filing for
divorce is not a knee-jerk reaction to whatever triggered the need.

With regards to the children, the bill requires a parenting plan for children given these
unusual circumstances. This includes all forms of parental support, authority, custody and
living arrangements especially if the couple have children from other partners.
What This Means to Filipinos?
It comes as no surprise divorce is opposed by conservative members of Philippine society,
including President Rodrigo Duterte who himself is opposed to divorce because of the
psychological harm it can do to children.

Another reason, especially coming from the Catholic Church is that couples might abuse the
practice and ask for divorce at the slightest trouble.

But for those with troubled marriages, this is a welcome relief, especially for women. This is
because it protects the rights of women who are powerless under the current situation. The
divorce bill empowers them; it frees them from the bondage of an unhappy marriage which is
the closest thing to slavery. They believe a woman in particular has the right to a happy life
and if she is not happy with her marriage, she can get out of it with nothing in the way.

If there is anything else the divorce bill indicates, there are couples who marry for the wrong
reasons which is why it always ends in separation. It is a reminder to those who are going to
be married to find the right (not perfect) partner to determine if this is the person they want to
be with for better or for worse, through good and bad times. It is easy to say couples are
made for each other if there are no problems but the real test comes when these trials appear.

DON’T SEPARATE. THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN. SOME FILIPINOS,


HOWEVER, ARE ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN AND THAT’S
WHY THEY WANT A DIVORCE.

THEY SAY JUVENILE DELINQUENTS COME FROM BROKEN OR


DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE CHILDREN WHO
ARE FORCED TO ENDURE THE BICKERING AND FIGHTS OF THEIR
PARENTS (PARENTS WHO CAN’T GET DIVORCE). OR HOW ABOUT THE
CHILDREN OF “SECOND” FAMILIES WHO ARE CONSIDERED
ILLEGITIMATE BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS COULD NOT GET A DIVORCE
OF THEIR FIRST MARRIAGE.

Pros
To end a relationship that is not mutual anymore or is no longer existing / to end a one-way
relationship.
To avoid violence, whether be verbal or physical if there was any / to avoid further threats if
there was any.