SC upholds instant divorce for Muslims
MANILA, Philippines — A Muslim man can legally divorce his Muslim wife under the so-called instant divorce, or “talaq,” even if they were also wed in civil rites, according to the Supreme Court, which ruled that their marriage was covered by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines.
“The Muslim Code continues to govern the marital relations of Muslim spouses who first wed under Muslim law rites and decided to wed again under civil law rites,” the court’s First Division said in a June 10 decision made public last week.
The ruling was reached by the tribunal when it denied the petition of the wife who opposed the divorce initiated by her husband on grounds that the Shariah courts did not have jurisdiction over their marriage.
The couple were married in Muslim rites in General Santos City on July 18, 1998. They wed again in civil rites before the mayor of Alabel town in Sarangani province on Feb. 4, 2004.
They have three children.
Their marriage fell apart after the husband became a policeman in 2006 and was often assigned far from their home.
Eventually, the couple quarreled over financial support, and the wife filed a case in the women and children protection desk of the Philippine National Police in General Santos City against her husband for grave misconduct, alleging infidelity and abandonment.
Her husband in turn filed a petition for divorce by talaq in the 8th Shariah Circuit Court of Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province.
Under the Muslim Code, a husband may divorce his wife by talaq through a single repudiation made during her nonmenstrual period when he abstains from having sex with her.
The Shariah court granted his petition and declared the divorce on March 14, 2011.
The wife appealed before the 5th Shariah District Court of Cotabato City, arguing that civil law governed their marriage.
The district court, however, affirmed the divorce on Nov. 2, 2011, and she turned to the Supreme Court to reverse that decision.
The Supreme Court upheld the Shariah courts’ decisions, agreeing that the couple’s first marriage was the “validating rite” while their second marriage was “merely ceremonial.”
The high tribunal ruled that the Muslim Code governed the marriage and the husband “may legally avail of divorce by talaq under the code.”
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