Did you know that Philippines and Vatican were the only states in the world that tackles no law about divorce?
As a matter of fact, according to Social Weather Stations (SWS), the percentage of Filipino adults in the Philippines who are in favor of divorce legalization is around 53 percent.
Recently, three senators filed their respective bills regarding divorce including Senators Risa Hontiveros (Dissolution of Marriage Act), Raffy Tulfo (Divorce Act of 2022) and Robin Padilla (Divorce Act of the Philippines).
Annulment vs. Divorce
For the benefit of the doubt, let us dive in a little to the difference of these terms. Annulment renders a marital union null and void, or as if it never existed while divorce recognizes and puts an end to a marriage that is legally recognized.
According to the Office of the Solicitor General, there were about 50 percent of women who had petitioned for annulment for the previous years and the main reason for these are abuses.
In 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority depicts that one in every four married woman experienced spousal violence, either physical, sexual or emotional.
Lawyer Philip Jurado mentioned in his recent Facebook live that an annulment may cause a person about P250,000 to P500,000. Further, if the other spouse does not contest the procedures and there are no disputes regarding property, child custody, or child support, an annulment in the Philippines may take two to four years on average.
The divorce process, according to lawmakers, may only last “a few months” or even a year. However, they guaranteed that the procedures will be easier to access and significantly less expensive.
The husband and wife will be permitted to remarry once the annulment and/or divorce has reached its finality.
While the custody of their children, especially of the minors, will be decided by the court, the children of the estranged parties will still be regarded as legitimate.
What are the grounds to which a union may be annuled?
Based on the Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines, the grounds for annulment include the following:
- No parental consent if either party was between 18 and 21 years at the time of marriage
- Psychological incapacity
- Fraudulent consent, including non-disclosure of either party of a material fact before marriage, such as pregnancy by another man or a sexually transmitted disease
- Consent obtained by force, intimidation, or undue influence
- Physical inability to consummate the marriage
- That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable
Grounds for divorce:
- Psychological incapacity, where the petitioner needs to prove that his/her spouse is psychologically incapable in performing his/her marital obligations.
- This may require a psychological evaluation by a qualified psychologist, who may also take into account any witnesses the petitioner may provide.
- This is one of the costs associated with the annulment procedure. He added that it has an impact on a person’s reputation and that they will have a record of “psychological incapacity” in court.
- The conduct of hearings, where one side must discredit the other in order to win the case, adds to the stress brought on by the annulment proceedings.
- Other elements that influence how quickly an annulment case is resolved include judge retirements or promotions, scheduling complications related to witness availability, opposition from the opposing party, and issues with child custody, spousal support, property division, and court inventories.
Grounds for divorce:
- When either of the spouses has no capacity to perform the essential marital obligations of the marriage and the incapacity continues and appears to be incurable;
- When there is an existing irreconcilable marital difference;
- When a spouse obtained a divorce abroad;
- When a spouse is presumed dead under Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code of the Philippines;
- Upon conviction of an offense under Republic Act 9262, otherwise “Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004”;
- Attempt by the respondent against the life of a common child or a child of the petitioner;
- Having a child with another person other than one’s spouse during the marriage, except when upon the mutual agreement of the spouses, a child is born to them in vitro or through a similar procedure or when the wife bears a child after being a victim of rape;
- When any of the grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines, filed by the persons and within the periods provided in Article 47 of said Code are present;
- Except when circumstance is present under Article 56 of the Family Code of the Philippines when any of the grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the said Code are present;
- When the spouses are separated in fact for at least two consecutive years at the time of the filing of the petition for divorce;
- When the spouses have been legally separated by judicial decree under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines
Grounds for divorce:
- Five continuous years of separation, with or without a judicial decree of separation;
- The commission of the crime of rape by the respondent-spouse against the petitioner-spouse before or after the marriage;
- The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of any other special law;
- A final decree of absolute divorce validly obtained in a foreign jurisdiction;
- Irreconcilable marital differences or irreparable breakdown of the marriage despite earnest effort at reconciliation.
The judgment in both proceedings should include a liquidation, partition, and distribution of the spouses’ assets as well as decisions regarding child custody and support, the conjugal residence, as well as the lot on which it is located, and the effects of intestate successions, testamentary dispositions, charitable gifts, and insurance on beneficiaries on the spouses.
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