Divorce bill gets Senate panel’s nod
MANILA, Philippines — A panel in the Senate has finally approved a consolidated measure that provides for an absolute divorce in the Philippines.
Instituting divorce is part of Senate Bill No. 2443, which aims to expand the grounds for the dissolution of marriage.
It was approved by the Senate committee on women, children, family relation and gender equality, which also released a report for plenary approval.
Listed as authors of the consolidated bill are panel head, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Senators Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla, Senators Pia Cayetano, and Imee Marcos.
Aside from the five authors, four others also signed the panel report and they are Senators JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.
“The state shall assure that the court proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable, expeditious, and inexpensive, particularly for indigent litigants,” the divorce bill reads,
Absolute divorce is defined under the bill as “the legal termination of a marriage by a court in a legal proceeding.”
A petition or complaint for divorce must be filed by one or both spouses, which would have “the effect of returning both parties to the status of single for all legal intents and purposes, including the right to contract a subsequent marriage.”
Marriage annulment or dissolution, meanwhile, “refers to a marriage duly solemnized by a priest, imam, rabbi, or presiding elder of a church or religious entity, or duly solemnized or performed by an elder or leader of an indigenous cultural community (ICC) or indigenous people (IP) in the Philippines, which is subsequently annulled, dissolved, declared a nullity, or terminated in a final judgment or pronouncement in accordance with the canons or precepts of such church, religious entity, or customs and practices of ICCs or IPs.”
The bill listed the following grounds for filing for an absolute divorce:
- Five years of separation, whether continuous or broken, without a judicial decree of separation
- 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;
- 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 15 or IP 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.
According to the divorce bill, a joint petition filed by both spouses with common children should be accompanied by a joint plan for parenthood, which provides for the support, custody, and living arrangements of the common children.
“If the court determines that the joint plan for parenthood is adequate to protect the rights and interests of the common children, the court shall approve the joint plan for parenthood together with the grant of a divorce decree if warranted,” it said.
Failure to provide “court-ordered child support and/or court-ordered spousal support” would be punishable by prision mayor and a fine up to P300,000 as provided for in the bill.
A similar proposal was also approved early this year by a panel in the House of Representatives.