Divorce in the Philippines

Divorce in the Philippines.

Divorce in the Philippines.

(Updated 15 November 2018)

Divorce in the Philippines.

Why another article on Philippine divorce so soon?

Well, I can tell by the listing of search terms that show me how people find this site that a great many people are searching for news of what many think is a near-term “loosening” of the laws that prohibit divorce in the Philippines.

Perhaps even divorce itself is soon to be legalized … or at least some rumors say so.

Here’s Some Recent Philippine Divorce News.

Philippines moves closer to allowing divorce

Anti-divorce protestersImage copyrightAFP/GETTY

Divorce remains illegal in the Philippines, which has a large Catholic population.

The Philippines’ lower house of Congress has passed a divorce bill on the third reading, moving the country closer to legalisation.

The bill passed despite opposition from President Rodrigo Duterte, who had his own marriage legally annulled.

However, for divorce to become legal the Senate also has to pass a bill in favour, and even then Mr Duterte could still use his veto to strike it down.

Worldwide, divorce is only illegal in the Philippines and Vatican City.

Over 80% of people in the Philippines describe themselves as Catholic, and the church has a powerful influence in the country.

Congresswoman Emmi de Jesus said the bill was filed because of a “clamour of women trapped in abusive relationships”, who need the government to give them a means out of “irreparable marriages”…

Well This Is Progress, But Don’t Hold Your Breath

This passage by the House of Representatives is only the first step of three very important steps.

The bill must be debated and likely modified bt the Senate, which will then mean another round of debate and possible changes in the House.

Then once a final version of the bill is passed by both houses, it will have to go to the desk of the President, who can either sign it into law or veto it and send it back to Congress, disapproved.

I don’t  know how many of you understand what a long and potentially impossible route of march this may be.

First, Many Legislators Don’t Want To Legalize Divorce.

Quite a few divorce bills have died trying to get through the legislative process in the past 110 or 15 years.  There’s no assurance that this current bill will make it through the minefields.

Also, The President Does NOT Like Liberalization Of Divorce

No one (certainly not me) can speak for the president or predict his actions if the bill ever does make it to his desk, but he has already mad4 statements that clearly indicate he is not in favor of changing the existing laws.

And since the president already had a marriage annulled under the present system of laws, there is even less chance he is going to act to liberalize or change the current process.  Only time will tell.

This is just one typical official statement President Duterte has made recently:

    Duterte opposed to divorce – Roque
By:  – Reporter / @LeilasINQ
 / 07:08 AM March 20, 2018

Divorce in the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Despite a failed marriage, President Rodrigo Duterte does not approve of divorce in the Philippines, according to his spokesperson, Harry Roque.

Roque said Mr. Duterte, who had his marriage annulled, took this position because he had the welfare of children and neglected spouses in mind…

Thirdly, If The Bill Does Get Signed Into Law, We Don’t Know For Sure What Changes Will Be Made.

As the bill currently is drafted it sounds like it would solve a lot of problems.

In addition to calling for faster and less expensive court proceedings the bill would define much more liberal grounds for divorce:

Grounds for grant

The grounds for the grant of an absolute divorce decree include de facto separation for at least five years, legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years, psychological incapacity, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences, and joint petition of spouses.

This would be a huge step forward, especially if the “irreconcilable differences” ground is left in the final version.  This is essentially the basis for all the “no-fault” type divorces granted by the various US states.

Basically one or both marriage partners just have to swear that they have “irreconcilable differences” or that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that ends things.

The courts do not demand proof of what these “irreconcilable differences” are, the marriage is just then legally dissolved.

But Getting A Law “On The Street” in the Philippines Is a Two Step Process

First, we need this existing bill or a replacement for it to go through the House and the Senate and then be signed into law by the President.  The bill then will be assigned a number which identifies it as an official act (Law) of the Republic of the Philippines.

In other words, when it completes the process the new law might be identified as “RA-9999” or some such 4 or 5-digit number.

But the fact that the law is on the books, officially, doesn’t implement or change any existing procedures.

Next Comes The IRR

Now the lawmakers or the agency who will actually implement the law must draft and publish procedures entitled the “Implementing Rules and Regulations” for RA-9999.

The IRR will specify who can file a divorce application, what forms they have to use, with whom the case is filed, and on and on.

All the bureaucratic procedures which actually make paperwork flow in the system and which brings cases before the appropriate court.

Only when the IRR “hits the streets” will we actually know exactly what is required to file for a divorce here in the Philippines.

How Long Might This Take?

Don’t ask me, I’m not a lawyer, LoL.  But here something I have learned about the pace of the legal process here in the Philippines over the past 15 years or so.

Back when my wife and I got married back in 2001, a very important law was being pushed through the Philippines legislature, RA-9225, the (so-called) Dual Citizen Act (real name “Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.)

This was very important to my wife because, although we were then living in the USA and she wanted to become a Naturalized US citizen, the way the Philippine law was applied _before_ RA-9225, if she became a naturalized US citizen she would lose her Philippine citizenship forever,

RA-9225 was enacted to allow here to reaquire her otherwise lost Filipino citizenship.

The act is actually quite a short read and quite simple in language, it even gives the exact text of the oath a person must swear to reaquire their citizenship.

It was signed into law by president Macapagal-Arroyo on August 29, 2003 (Thank you PGMA)

But No One Could Reaquire Their Citizenship Just By Swearing That Lawful Oath.

Nope, not so fast.  We needed the accompanying IRR for RA-9225 before anything could really happen.

Since citizenship determination falls under both the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (Part of the Department of Justice), nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry to get anything “implemented”.

Finally, someone decided the Bureau of Immigration would handle cases requesting reaquistion of Philippine citizenship.

Sometime in late 2004, at least a year after th elong-awaited passage of the Act (law) the BI finally issued



And hopeful reacquisition candiates could then submit their applications and begin the process.

(the reacquisition process is significantly more complicated and expensive than the process outlibned in the original bill … somebody has to make some money out of this thing.)

So My Layman’s Guess Is

It will be at least a year after the proposed divorce bill gets signed if it ever des) before anyone can file a case for divorce in the Philippines.

Until further notice, here in the land that time forgot, there is no

Divorce in the Philippines.

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