Legal separation, annulment enhance need for divorce

MANILA Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday said the remedies of legal separation and annulment of marriage are inadequate to completely liberate distressed spouses from irremediably broken and "dead" marriages, hence the need for a fuller remedy of divorce.

"If legal separation and annulment of marriage are allowed, then the fuller relief or remedy of divorce is legal, logical and reasonable," Lagman said in a statement.

Lagman, who is one of the principal authors of the divorce bill, said while the spouses' separation is legalized in legal separation, they are prohibited from contracting a second marriage.

"The consequence is the spawning of illegal second or more cohabitations where the parties are liable for adultery or concubinage," he said.

Meanwhile, he said the annulment of marriage refers only to the voiding of marital unions due to causes existing at the time of the marriage.

He said annulment does not cover the "after the marriage" grounds like insanity, impotency and affliction with a sexually transmissible disease of either spouse, and grounds for legal separation due to marital infidelity, abandonment, addiction to drugs and alcohol, violence or grossly abusive conduct, imprisonment of more than six years, homosexuality, bigamy, and attempt against the life of a spouse.

"The inadequacies of legal separation and annulment of marriage are answered by the legalization of absolute divorce based on grounds which occur during the marriage and which allows the divorced couples to remarry even as the custody and support of the children and alimony for the innocent spouse are likewise decreed or secured," he said.

"Even as absolute divorce is instituted, the concerned couples still have the option of filing for legal separation or annulment of marriage under the Family Code which provisions are not repealed," he added.

On Monday, House Bill 7303, which seeks to institutionalize absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage in the Philippines, was approved on third and final reading with a vote of 134-57. Only two lawmakers abstained from voting.

HB 7303, otherwise known as the Absolute Divorce Act of 2018, aims to ensure that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable, efficient and inexpensive, especially for indigent litigants or petitioners.

The grounds for absolute divorce are the existing grounds for legal separation and annulment of marriage.

A possible ground also for absolute divorce is the couple's separation for at least five years.

Other valid grounds include psychological incapacity of either spouse, irreconcilable marital differences, or a gender reassignment surgery of either spouse.

Source: Philippine News Agency