Position Paper on Legalizing Divorce in the Philippines

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www.hg.org/legal-articles/acknowledgment-of-divorce-in-the-philippines-2009 Finally, divorce should be legalized, as it brings relief and allows victims of abuse, fills gaps in nullity, annulment and legal separation, and at the same time is a concept that is not foreign to Filipinos. By introducing divorce laws based on strict principles, divorce can be implemented effectively. Government interventions, which involve the recovery of broken families and children, can be combined with the institution of divorce. In this way, divorce becomes a system mobilized for families to find relief and is not misunderstood and abused by people who want to end a marriage. Annulment is a very expensive process compared to divorce. Married couples are already separating without a divorce law. Without the implementation of divorce law, it is simply trying to avoid the inevitable and complicate the situation by spending hundreds and thousands of dollars just on couples to invalidate their marriage. According to a lifestyle article published by GMA in 2014, one in five married couples in the Philippines are seeking cancellation, with 10,528 cases in 2012, or 28 cancellations per day. A cancellation can cost the parties to withdraw between PHP 150,000 and PHP 300,000 for attorneys` fees alone. This is especially true if the marriage is not eligible for annulment. In this case, the nullity procedure may be more expensive than divorce. The financial differences between annulment and divorce are great.

But with the legalization of divorce, it can also help the less fortunate to separate from a partner who may be going through an addiction, an affair, etc. and refuses to ask for help. In this regard, divorce should also be legalized, as it is already ingrained in our culture, which is reflected in the practices of indigenous peoples and Muslim families. Historically, in pre-Hispanic times, divorce was practiced in some ancestral tribes in the Philippines (Abalos, 2017). Meanwhile, economic sanctions were imposed on the spouse who initiated the divorce or separation (Fernandez, 1976, cited in Abalos, 2017). On the other hand, during Spanish colonization, divorce was prohibited and only legal separation was allowed (Fisher, 1926, cited in Abalos, 2017). However, divorce was granted by Republic Act No. 2710, but the grounds were limited to adultery by the wife and cuncubinage by the husband (Reyes, 1953; Felician, 1994, cited in Abalos, 2017). This only underscores that divorce is not a foreign word to us. Indeed, the divorce laws introduced were legal, constitutional, and in line with the Philippines` international human rights obligations (Jacob, 2013). This means that “recognizing divorce means reintroducing what was once legal in the country during the pre-colonial period and before the promulgation of the Civil Code” (Jacob, 2013, p. 16).

If divorce is legalized, it will ultimately be governed by the law and reality that the Filipino knows. While it is true that divorce can be abused by some people, the problems are not solved by refusing divorce, but by introducing appropriate safeguards (Gloria, 2008). This would reduce the means by which divorce can be granted. This means that a divorce based on the simple agreement of the parties or trivial reasons can be rejected (Gloria, 2008). In addition, the law may provide that divorce may be refused if it is proven that the parties conspired to make it appear that there is a ground for divorce when there is none (Gloria, 2008). With regard to the claim that divorce will be detrimental to the children concerned, it is necessary to analyse the different circumstances of divorce, as they can affect the children both positively and negatively. It can be argued that: “Although divorce leads to increased stress such as poverty, mental and health problems among parents, and incompetent upbringing, it can also be associated with escaping conflict, establishing new, more harmonious fulfilling relationships, and the opportunity for personal growth and individuation” (Hetherington, 2006, p. 204). This means that, if properly implemented, divorce can be an effective way to recover from a dissolved marriage.

The Philippines and the Vatican are the only two countries in the world where divorce is illegal (Emery, 2013, cited in Abalos, 2017). Although cancellation and declaration of invalidity are available in the Philippines, they are not preferred because they entail high economic costs (Taylor et al., as cited in Abalos, 2017). This makes cancellation inaccessible to those who can`t afford it. The most vulnerable are those living in abusive relationships and living below the poverty line. In addition, there is also a big difference between annulment and divorce. Annulment recognizes that the marriage was null and void, while divorce terminates a legally valid marriage. This means that these two have different reasons for working and should not be confused with each other. Divorce should be legalized because it is different from the annulment to which citizens of the Philippines should be entitled. However, divorce is a partial or total dissolution of a marriage by court decision.

Partial dissolution is a divorce “of bed and board”, a judgment of legal separation, by which the parties remain officially married and cohabitation is prohibited. The complete dissolution of the bonds of a valid marriage is what is generally understood by divorce today. It must be distinguished from a judgment of annulment or annulment of marriage, which is a judicial declaration that there has never been a valid marriage. Divorce laws were reportedly introduced in previous legislatures but not enacted. The bill, which has just been passed, has the support of the Speaker of the House, according to MP Edcel Lagman, a supporter of the recently passed bill. As already mentioned, it is better to legalize divorce, because there is constant violence in households that threatens the safety of children, does not make its expensive alternative of annulment accessible to all citizens because the history of our country has already been divorced, and finally we have the freedom to choose whether divorce is relevant. Many positive points have probably been raised against its adoption, but I believe that the benefits to the Filipino community will far outweigh its disadvantages. However, it is important to take into account that marital ties are not separate. This is an important implication because it also emphasizes that marital abuse and infidelity are not grounds for absolute dissolution of marriage, since marriage annulment and marriage annulment do not consider these grounds as null and void grounds for marriage.

Citizens should have the right to dissolve marriages that are not physically and physiologically healthy. This is specially designed for a no-fault divorce. The great respect the country has for the sanctity of marriage should not undermine the impact of men and women unable to end a marriage that is not based on intrinsically good and just principles.