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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House oks substitute bill on absolute divorce
22-February-2018, 04:08:43 AM

Couples, especially overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose marriages have failed miserably, may soon no longer have to endure and continue living together in an otherwise already dead marital union.

The House committee on population and family relations chaired by Rep. Sol Aragones approved on Wednesday, subject to amendment and style, a substitute bill which seeks to ease the access to legal processes for the dissolution of a marriage.

The proposed “Act Instituting Absolute Divorce In The Philippines” substituted House Bills 116, 1062, 2380 and 6027.

The bill states that while the State continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the foundation of the family, it gives the opportunity to spouses in irremediably failed marriages to secure an absolute divorce decree.

The proposed Act shall be guided according to the following principles: absolute divorce is judicially decreed after the fact of an irremediably broken marital union or a marriage vitiated from the start; the State shall assure that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable and inexpensive, particularly for indigent litigants or petitioners, and observe an efficient process; and concerned spouses have the option to file for absolute divorce under this Act or seek legal separation, annulment of marriage or nullification of marriage under the pertinent provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209, as amended) which are not repealed.

Likewise, the Act shall be guided on the principles that the option of absolute divorce is pro-woman legislation because in most cases, it is the wife who is entitled to a divorce as a liberation from an abusive relationship and to help her regain her dignity and self-esteem; a six-month cooling-off period is instituted after the filing of a petition for absolute divorce as a final attempt of reconciling the concerned spouses; a divorce decree shall include provisions for the care and custody of children, protection of their legitime, termination and liquidation of the conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute community, and alimony for the innocent spouse; and on the principle that even as absolute divorce is instituted, the State has the role of strengthening marriage and family life by undertaking relevant pre-nuptial and post-matrimonial programs and activities.

Under the bill, the grounds for a judicial decree of absolute divorce are the grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines and grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Another provision of the measure states that petitioners who are OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) shall be given preference by the proper court with respect to the hearing of their petitions and the court shall set the reception of evidence, upon the availability of the petitioners, for not more than two consecutive days.

The proposal imposes the penalty of imprisonment of five years and a fine of P200,000 to a spouse who is party to a petition for absolute divorce, who is found by the court to have used threats or coercion to compel the other spouse in filing the petition, and to spouses who are guilty of collusion.

Authors of the bill are House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speakers Pia Cayetano and Gwendolyn Garcia, Reps. Edcel Lagman, Robert Ace Barbers, Emmi De Jesus, Arlene Brosas, Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., Rodel Batocabe, Ariel Casilao, France Castro, Nancy Catamco, Sarah Jane Elago, Ana Cristina Go, Antonio Tinio, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Kaka Bag-ao, Doy Leachon and Eleanor Bulut-Begtang. | MVIP