Divorce is a controversial topic, except that it’s often discussed with hushed voices. Many are just waiting for the right opportunity to end their respective marriages, and the reasons are diverse — physical abuse (against the spouse and/or the children), sexual infidelity, irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities, gross irresponsibility, loss (and transfer) of affection, among others. Unfortunately, these grounds are not enough to severe the marital bond through annulment. In lieu of divorce, married persons resort to annulment andaccordingto the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), there is an alarming increase in the number of annulment cases in the Philippines. The number of annulment cases filed in courts, which never breached the 7,000-mark prior to 2006, rose to 7,138 (2006) and 7,753 (2007).
Existing Philippine Laws regarding Divorce
Philippine laws do not provide for absolute divorce, but divorce was available in certain periods in Philippine history. Divorce was allowed under the Divorce Law of 1917 (Act No. 2710) and during the Japanese occupation, pursuant to Executive Order No. 141 (1943). As the law stands today, however, a marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a divorce obtained abroad. In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner (or former Filipinos), Article 26 of theFamily Codeallows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.
It is not really accurate to say that there is absolutely no divorce in the Philippines. Under Presidential Decree No. 1083, also known as the “Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines,” divorce is allowed in certain instances, but this law applies only when both parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law in any part of the Philippines. For the rest of Filipinos, therefore, divorce is not available.