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Senate panel OKs bill allowing absolute divorce

by Carl Santos

A BILL seeking to introduce absolute divorce in the country has been approved by a Senate committee, opening the door for all senators to discuss and decide whether to approve it in plenary.

Senate Bill 2443 is a consolidation of various bills that were tackled by the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality. 

A committee report on SB 2443 was released on Monday. 

Absolute divorce is defined in the bill as the “legal termination of a marriage by a court in a legal proceeding,” which will have the effect of returning the two parties to the status of single “for all legal intents and purposes, including the right to contract a subsequent marriage.”

The proposed grounds for absolute divorce are the following: 

  • Five years of separation, whether continuous or broken, without a judicial decree of separation; provided, that when the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, a two-year period from the time of the issuance of the decree of legal separation will suffice;
  • The commission of the crime of rape by the respondent-spouse against the petitioner-spouse, whether before or after the celebration of their marriage;
  • The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code or any other special law;
  • A final decree of absolute divorce validly obtained in a foreign jurisdiction by any Filipino citizen, regardless of who they married;
  • Irreconcilable marital differences or irreparable breakdown of the marriage, despite earnest efforts at reconciliation, subject to a cooling off period of 60 days pursuant to Section 8 of this Act; and
  • A marriage annulment or dissolution, duly authorized by a church or religious entity, or a marriage termination duly authorized by customs and practices traditionally recognized, accepted and observed by an ICC (indigenous cultural community) or IP (indigenous people) to which the parties belong, having the same effect as a decree of divorce, annulment, dissolution or declaration of nullity issued by a competent court.

A petition for absolute divorce may be filed separately or jointly by the spouses. Online filing and hearings may be available to overseas Filipino workers, subject to the issuances of the court.

A decree of divorce validly obtained is final and executory with regard to the capacity to remarry, while orders for child support, child custody, and spousal support are immediately executory pending appeal. 

A similar bill was passed by the House committee on population and family relations in March.

The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is illegal. 



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