For many couples, getting married is a dream come true. It’s a time when they pledge to love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, not all marriages work out in the end, and divorce becomes the only option left.
If you’re currently living in the Philippines – which is one of two countries in the world where divorce is illegal – and are considering ending your marriage, you may be wondering if there’s any hope. The answer is yes, but it’s complicated.
The process for dissolving a marriage in the Philippines is often lengthy, costly, and emotionally taxing. But regardless of these difficulties, many Filipinos find that it’s worth pursuing because it allows them to move on with their lives.
“Divorce is not something to be taken lightly. It can have far-reaching consequences that impact both parties involved, as well as any children that may be affected.”
In this blog post, we’ll explore what you need to know about getting a divorce in the Philippines. We’ll look at the legal implications, costs, and the emotional toll it takes on everyone involved. Whether you’re thinking about filing for divorce or just curious about the process, this article will provide valuable insights into the journey ahead. So, let’s get started!
Understanding the Current Philippine Divorce Law
The History of Divorce in the Philippines
Divorce is a legal process that officially terminates marriage, allowing the parties involved to remarry. In the Philippines, divorce was first introduced during the Spanish colonial period but it remained only for non-Muslim Filipinos until the 20th century.
In 1950, Republic Act No. 2710 or the Marriage Law was passed which allowed for divorce on the grounds of adultery by either spouse. However, this law was repealed two decades later with the enactment of the New Civil Code in 1987 which prohibits divorce and recognizes legal separation instead.
This means that while married couples can legally separate and live apart from each other, they are still considered married in the eyes of the law and cannot marry another person unless an annulment is granted.
The Current Status of Divorce in the Philippines
As of now, there is no law allowing divorce in the Philippines. The Church and conservative sectors strongly oppose it, citing religious beliefs and cultural values as reasons to uphold the current ban.
There have been recent efforts to legalize divorce in the country. In March 2018, the House of Representatives approved the proposed “Absolute Divorce” bill on final reading, but its counterpart bill in the Senate remains pending. The bill seeks to provide spouses in irreparable marriages an option to dissolve their union through legal means.
Advocates for divorce argue that it will benefit women and children in abusive relationships and give them a chance to start fresh without having to undergo a complicated and costly process of annulment. But critics claim that divorce promotes infidelity, destroys family values, and adversely affects children’s emotional well-being.
“I believe that every individual must have the liberty and freedom to build or dissolve their own family. This bill aims to provide a remedy for distressed marriages, especially those who are suffering from violence and abuse.” -Representative Emmi de Jesus
While waiting for further legislative action on divorce, other options exist for couples whose marriage has failed such as legal separation and annulment. However, both procedures can be difficult and expensive, often requiring proof of psychological incapacity, fraudulent consent, or impotence.
The process of filing for an annulment in the Philippines can also take years and involves hefty fees since it requires investigation by various government agencies and court hearings. Not everyone can afford the time, money, and emotional toll these procedures demand, and some resort to simply living apart without any legal recognition of their status.
“Annulment is not an option for many people. It’s a long process, takes too much effort and is very costly.” -Senator Pia Cayetano
While divorce remains illegal in the Philippines, there are ongoing efforts to legalize it as a solution for irreparable marriages. Until then, married couples who wish to end their relationship will have to resort to legal separation or annulment which can be tedious and expensive processes that may not even guarantee success.
The Grounds for Divorce in the Philippines
Divorce is not a common method of terminating marriages in the Philippines due to religious and cultural beliefs. In this predominantly Catholic country, it is important that marriage remains sacred and permanent. However, there are certain circumstances where divorce can be granted legally.
One ground for divorce as recognized by Philippine law is adultery. This refers to the act of engaging in voluntary sexual relations with someone other than your spouse while still married. Adultery must be proven during trial, and evidence such as intimate photos or messages may be used.
In 2018, the Philippine Supreme Court made headlines after approving an annulment case filed by a woman whose husband was found to have multiple affairs and impregnated another woman. They ruled that his unfaithfulness constituted psychological incapacity – one of the few grounds for annulment allowed under Philippine law – which rendered him unfit to fulfill his marital duties and responsibilities.
“It is about time we revisit our laws which have become unfair to women” – Kristine Joy Tamayo, lawyer of the woman who won the annulment case (CNN Philippines)
Another legitimate reason for filing a divorce in the Philippines is abandonment. This happens when one spouse leaves and refuses to return home without any valid cause. It can also refer to situations where the other spouse was compelled to leave their home due to maltreatment or abuse.
An example of abandonment is the case of Maricon Falgui-Lopez, who sought legal separation from her husband after he left to work overseas and never returned for seven years. She struggled to raise their kids alone and was forced to sell off their assets just to provide for them.
“One can never know the pain of a woman giving up her life as she knew it, away from what is familiar and comfortable” – Maricon Falgui-Lopez (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Suffering from physical or emotional abuse at the hands of one’s spouse may be grounds for divorce in the Philippines. Domestic violence is a serious violation of human rights and often goes unreported due to fear, shame, or lack of awareness.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reports that an estimated three out of five women who have experienced physical or sexual violence did not seek help nor report their abuse to the authorities. This highlights the need for stronger laws and support systems for victims of domestic abuse.
“We must recognize the complexity of gender-based violence and its impact on families and communities. There should be no compromise in eliminating all forms of gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence.” – Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
If there are irreconcilable differences between spouses which cannot be resolved through mediation or counseling, they may file for legal separation or annulment. Such differences may include incompatible personalities, conflicting beliefs or values, or financial issues.
Legal separation does not terminate the marriage but allows for the partition of properties and cessation of marital duties. Annulment, on the other hand, nullifies the marriage contract indicating that it was invalid from the beginning due to factors such as fraud, coercion, or mental incapacity.
In 2014, actress Kris Aquino filed for the annulment of her marriage with basketball player James Yap due to irreconcilable differences, claiming that he repeatedly committed infidelity and failed to support their family financially. The case was granted in 2018.
“There is no magic formula for a perfect marriage and neither side of our families ever claimed to offer one. But physical, emotional, financial responsibility are non-negotiables…I am at peace that my past has given me the strength to completely release what wasn’t meant to be mine.” – Kris Aquino (Instagram)
While divorce remains a sensitive issue in Philippine society, it cannot be denied that there are certain situations where it may be necessary for the well-being and protection of individuals involved. It is important to continue discussing and exploring ways to address the challenges faced by those seeking to end their marriages legally while upholding respect for the sanctity of the marital institution.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Divorce in the Philippines
Getting a divorce in the Philippines can offer several advantages, which include:
- More legal options for victims of abuse: The country’s existing laws allow for annulment only in cases where one party is found to have psychological incapacity.
- Better protection of assets: In the absence of rules governing the division of property acquired during marriage, spousal properties are considered conjugal. This means that the wife or husband would own half of all income earned during their union.
- Increase in emotional well-being: Individuals can find it difficult to move on from traumatic incidents without closure such as divorce.
- Pathway to remarrying: Furthermore, divorces can provide another chance at love with no legal implications resulting from an extramarital affair as these do not hold any weight in Filipino courts.
Likewise, getting a divorce in the Philippines also comes with certain disadvantages like:
- Cut off of financial benefits: Marriage confers rights and entitlements including government social security benefits like Social Security System pension and Philhealth coverage. A separated couple loses these benefits because legal system sees them not anymore married.
- Additional strain on finances: Filing for divorce involves costs related to hiring counsel, filing for court fees, and working out terms of alimony payments, asset distribution, custody expenses etc.
- Resistance by religious groups: Predominantely, Catholicism-laden Philippine society deem divorce against fundamental faith beliefs thus opposing calls for acceptance of this formal separation process from union.
Impact on Children
The effects of divorce on children greatly depend on the couples’ execution during proceedings. Ideally, both sides should come to an agreement and establish a child custody plan that works best for the welfare of all parties involved. Such appropriate management includes:
- Prioritizing safety and security: Both spouses must assure kids of feeling secure even as family set up has altered. Emotional wounds that stem from not prioritizing their emotional well-being can carry over into adulthood,
- Settling consistency in parenting: Parents shall still cooperate so they will maintain parental roles even though living at separate residences and commit to having consistent schedules with regards visitations or communication.
- Seeking therapy support: Continuous famly discussions and emotional assessment needs to be done by licensed mental health professionals concentrated on building resilience of the young members who are affect the most in this turmoil.
Religious and Cultural Factors
In addition, divorce is also subjected to certain religious and cultural factors. In particularly cultural societies such as Muslim communities, Sharia law permits husbands to marry multiple times but grants women the right to seek khula – divorce provided she returns her dowry. Meanwhile, Catholicism sees marriage as sacred sacrament and promotes annulment rather than divorcement resolution to dissolve marriages. Devotion dictates rejection of secular take on separating marital ties because it goes against sanctity of vows taken before God.
“The cultural and faith traditions we grew up with may continue to inform our individual attitudes about divorce, views which can clash mightily with approaching the topic purely objectively.”
Determining whether divorce aligns with personal beliefs, values, and faith systems is vital decision-making factor when considering this life-altering step. Filipino family mindedness entails emphasis on being there for each other in regards to major turn of events in personal matters related particularly to members’ ties with one another.
The Process of Getting a Divorce in the Philippines
Divorce is not legal in the Philippines. The country remains one of two in the world that prohibits divorce, the other being Vatican City. Even if you are a foreigner seeking a divorce while residing in the Philippines, getting a divorce is impossible under local laws.
The Role of the Court
Since divorce is illegal in the Philippines, there is no court process for it. Instead, there is an annulment process whereby your marriage could be declared null and void by a court. Annulment refers to undoing or invalidating a marriage through a specific legal process. According to the Family Code of the Philippines, there exist only certain grounds recognized by law where a marriage can be annulled or legally declared as non-existent from the beginning.
The Requirements for Filing for Divorce
Couples wishing to end their marriage in the Philippines have three options; annulment, legal separation, or declaration of nullity of marriage. Annulment is available to those whose marriages are considered “voidable” due to situations like bigamy, lack of parental consent, fraud, mental incapacity at the time of their wedding, or when it could be proven that one spouse forced the other into marrying them. You must file for annulment in a regional trial court in the city or municipality where either party resides. In most cases, the process begins with a petition for annulment of marriage by filing before the RTC (Regional Trial Court). Along with this submission, proof must be provided that the appropriate fees related to service were paid along with the petition fee and pertinent documentary requirements.
The Steps Involved in the Divorce Process
The first step towards getting spousal support in the Philippines involves submitting a petition for annulment to the Regional Trial Court (RTC). Here are some of the steps you should expect as part of your legal process:
- Submission of the petition – The petitioner must submit their request at the appropriate RTC branch
- Service of summons- Notification is served to your spouse within 15 days from receipt of the summons by either the sheriff or any lawful officer deemed as an agent, along with the notice of hearing
- Hearing Process and Mediation – A preliminary conference will occur after two weeks from submission. During the conference, parties present evidence prior to trial, examine potential witnesses, negotiate terms of settlement and come to a resolution through mediation.
- Pre-Trial Conference – The Pre-trial conference usually occurs soon after the mediation process where parties discuss topics involving the vital information they can agree to avoid trials. Among other things that could take place are fact stipulation, calming down the minor children, discovery procedures including inspection and production of documents, amicable compromises, admissions of facts and agreements on documentary matters such as authenticity and admissibility.
- Main Trial – This is when both parties argue their respective cases in court, presenting every piece of related evidence. If both spouses reach an agreement during the main hearing, then the judge can issue a final judgment based on this agreement.
“Divorce affects not only individuals but entire families. It causes emotional upheaval which requires coming to terms with, adjusting, and finally making peace with what now has become a shared reality.” – Robert J. Siderides
The Philippine government encourages married couples who may be facing difficulties in their relationship to try reconciliation. Annulment processes aren’t straightforward and could be extensive, costing time, money, and anguish. Couples need to be sure that they are dealing with their disputes before making a final decision, taking with them the strengths and understanding of marriage life as well as learning how issues could start.
The annulment proceedings take their emotional tolls on both spouses; it often calls for patience in the face of uncertainty. Provided there is unity and cooperation between parties during the entire process, it’s possible to come through this turmoil stronger than ever.
Important Factors to Consider Before Filing for Divorce in the Philippines
Can you get a divorce in the Philippines? Unfortunately, divorce is not yet legal in the country. The Philippines is one of only two countries in the world where divorce is illegal – Vatican City being the other.
If you wish to end your marriage, you will have to consider alternatives such as annulment or legal separation. Annulment declares that your marriage was invalid from the beginning due to specific reasons. Legal separation allows spouses to live apart and separate their finances while remaining legally married.
“The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.” -Jeremy Bentham
It’s important to understand the legal consequences of choosing either option before proceeding. An experienced family lawyer can help guide you through the process and ensure that all legal requirements are met.
The financial implications of ending a marriage can be significant. These include dividing assets, determining child support and spousal maintenance payments, and restructuring your finances moving forward.
In the case of annulment, the court may order the division of marital property between the parties based on the principle of equitable distribution. However, if there is no prenuptial agreement, inheritances, gifts, and properties acquired during the marriage shall be considered conjugal and would be divided equally between both parties.
Legal separation, on the other hand, does not dissolve the marriage but separates the couple’s finances. Support and custody issues are similarly decided as they are in a divorce proceeding.
“Money often costs too much.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
An experienced family lawyer can provide guidance regarding how property should be divided and the potential financial implications of ending a marriage, allowing you to make informed decisions about your future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to get a divorce in the Philippines?
No, divorce is not legal in the Philippines. The country is the only one in the world, aside from the Vatican City, that does not allow divorce. Couples who want to end their marriage need to resort to annulment or legal separation.
What are the grounds for divorce in the Philippines?
As mentioned, divorce is not allowed in the Philippines. However, there are grounds for legal separation and annulment. Legal separation may be granted due to physical violence, infidelity, abandonment, and other similar reasons. Meanwhile, annulment may be granted if one of the parties was underage, not of sound mind, coerced into marriage, or impotent.
Is annulment the only way to end a marriage in the Philippines?
No, there is also legal separation, which allows couples to live separately and divide their assets and responsibilities without ending their marriage. However, legal separation does not allow either party to remarry, unlike annulment where both parties can remarry after the nullity of their marriage is declared.
What is the process of getting an annulment in the Philippines?
The process of getting an annulment in the Philippines involves filing a petition with the court, which includes providing evidence and witnesses to prove that the marriage is invalid. The court will then evaluate the case and grant the annulment if it is found valid. The process can take years and may require a substantial amount of money for legal fees and other expenses.
Can a foreigner get a divorce in the Philippines?
No, foreign nationals cannot get a divorce in the Philippines, even if they were married in the country. They need to file for divorce in their home country or another country where divorce is legal. However, they may still seek legal separation or annulment in the Philippines.
Are there any alternatives to divorce or annulment in the Philippines?
Yes, there are alternatives to divorce or annulment in the Philippines, such as mediation or counseling. These processes aim to help couples resolve their issues and improve their relationship without resorting to legal separation or annulment. However, these alternatives may not be suitable for all couples and may not work in all situations.