Controversial divorce bill divides predominantly Catholic Philippines


For a predominantly Catholic country as the Philippines, the refiling by the Gabriela women's party-list group of a controversial bill to legalize divorce in the country drew mixed reactions, even as the Philippines hold the world record today as the only country which has no divorce law.

The refiled measure, now renamed House Bill No. 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines), lists down five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce:

1. Petitioner has been separated de facto (in fact) from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;

2. Petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;

3. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;

4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;

5. Any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

Under the present law, particularly Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, only psychological incapacity is the only ground for annulment of marriage, and the process of securing annulment is not only tedious but expensive as well, making the provision biased in favor of those who have the financial means to sustain costly litigation.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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