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Till Death or “Divorce” Do Us Part?

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Article by Francis John F. Faderogao

In the seminar entitled, “Till Death Do Us Part: Legal and Social Perspectives of a Divorce Law,” Atty. Ma. Gabriela “Gaby” Roldan-Concepcion, professorial lecturer at the UP College of Law, discussed the current legal system about marriage and the implications of the proposed divorce bill. The lecture was held at the UPLB Rural Economic Development and Renewable Energy Center (REDREC) on April 20, 2018. It was part of the regular policy seminars of the Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies of CPAf.

UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., in his opening remarks, talked about the responsibility of UP to engage the public in dialogues to discuss important and sensitive legislations. He also encouraged the audience to participate in the seminar by listening attentively and asking insightful questions regarding the proposed divorce bill.


Atty. Concepcion started her lecture by citing the Constitutional definition of marriage “as an inviolable social institution, [which] is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State” (1987 Philippine Constitution, Article XV, Section 2). The Family Code also defines marriage as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman” (Article 1).

At present, legal remedies from a failed marriage such as separation of properties, legal separation, annulment, and declaration of nullity exist. Separation of properties and legal separation do not allow spouses to remarry but the properties of the couple can be divided equally unless there is a prenuptial agreement. In addition, the former allows the spouses to live together while the latter to live separately. She also shared some grounds for separation of properties and legal separation including physical violence, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, attempt against the life of the spouse, and sexual infidelity.

While annulment and declaration of nullity allow spouses to remarry, Atty. Concepcion said that a marriage may be annulled for any of the following grounds: 1) no consent of the parents if the spouse was 18 years of age or over but below 21; 2) either party was of unsound mind; 3) physically incapable of consummating the marriage; 4) afflicted with a sexually-transmittable disease found to be graved and incurable, and 5) consent of either party was obtained by fraud, force, and intimidation. Declaration of nullity declares the marriage void from the beginning under the grounds of the following: 1) any party less than 18 years of age even with consent of parents or guardians; 2) no license to marry and get married; 3) incestuous marriage; and 4) psychological incapacity of either party.

With the proposed divorce bill passed in the House of Representatives, Atty. Concepcion said that married couple can secure absolute divorce under the existing grounds listed for legal separation and annulment whether or not the grounds existed at the time the couple was married or developed later on. Additional grounds included in the divorce bill are sexual reassignment, legally separated for at least two years, irreconcilable marital differences and conflicts resulting in the breakdown of the marriage beyond repair despite the efforts of the spouses, and psychological incapacity as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code.

The proposed bill also makes divorce inexpensive, affordable, and faster particularly for those qualified indigent petitioners. Passing of the divorce bill into law, marriage will no longer be separated by death only unless spouses have ground for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage but “‘til divorce do us part” will already be possible.

Atty. Concepcion ended her talk by sharing her belief that a remedy should exist for those who are not so lucky in their marriage with the most severe cases (e.g., the life of spouse is threatened). Still, she believed in “til death do you part” and stressed that marriage should not be taken for granted because divorce can easily be availed of.

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