Alvarez has opposition solons as co-authors in marriage dissolution bill
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has formally filed a bill seeking to allow dissolution of marriage – and he has the backing of 14 co-authors coming from the chamber’s various blocs, including the opposition.
House Bill No. 6027, titled “An Act Providing for Grounds for the Dissolution of a Marriage,” lists irreconcilable differences or severe and chronic unhappiness causing the “irreparable breakdown of marriage” as the possible grounds for its dissolution.
Under the bill, one or both parties may file a verified petition for dissolution of marriage on either ground.
Alvarez announced that the bill would be prioritized in the agenda in his speech last July 24 during the opening of the second regular session of the 17th Congress.
While he had explained much of the bill’s provision then, a copy of HB 6027 read during the July 31 plenary session contains a previously unannounced penalty provision.
The penalty provision punishes a person who coerces his or her spouse into filing a joint petition for the dissolution of marriage with a maximum imprisonment of five years and a maximum fine of P200,000.
Plans for children
Under the proposed measure, joint petitions have to be accompanied by a joint plan for their children, providing for support, parental authority, custody, and living arrangements.
The measure provides for the court to grant the petition upon determining that either of the two grounds exists, and if the joint plan for parenthood is enough to protect the interests of the children.
In the absence of such a plan, the court is tasked to determine the best parenthood plan for the children.
The proposed law tackles the welfare of children at length. It explicitly states the continuation of such unhappy marriages will be “conclusively presumed prejudicial to the welfare of the family, and most of all, the interest of the children.”
The petition should also list down all creditors of the conjugal partnership, as well as the personal creditors of each spouse. Under the proposed measure, the court is mandated to protect the creditors and other persons with monetary interest.
The termination of the marriage also dissolves the property regime by following “the applicable process provided for in Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code, as amended… depending on the property regime of the marriage.”
The current property regimes include absolute community of property (joint ownership of all assets), conjugal partnership of gains (covering only assets obtained upon marriage), and complete separation of properties. Each regime may be dissolved through their own procedures.
Upon finality of the dissolution of marriage, the obligation of spouses to mutually support each other shall cease.
Easier legal processes
The bill explained the current process of annulment allowed under the Family Code is “extremely adversarial in nature and is very expensive.”
Annulments do not recognize the validity of the entire marriage and are anchored on the grounds of insanity, fraud, coercion, sexually transmitted diseases, physical incapability to consummate the marriage, or in the case of persons aged 18 to 21, lack of parental consent.
The bill said an annulment proceedings “does not only escalate the conflict between the spouses but also affect the well-being of their common child/ren.”
“The bill intends to ease the access to legal processes to terminate a marriage while at the same time preserves the chance for a post-marriage scenario that allows a peaceful and productive co-existence between the former spouses which is beneficial to the family,” read the explanatory note.
Backed by majority and opposition
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman of the the so-called Magnificent Seven opposition bloc were listed among Alvarez’s co-authors.
Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia and Pia Cayetano, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, and Isabela Rep. Ana Cristina Go were the members of the majority bloc who signed the bill.
All seven members of the militant Makabayan bloc – Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emerenciana de Jesus, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Antonio Tinio, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate – lent their support for the bill.
Meanwhile, none of the authors belonged to the duly-recognized minority bloc led by Minority Floor Leader Danilo Suarez, which counts conservative Buhay list Rep. Lito Atienza among its members. /atm
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