DIVORCE: Do we need it?

A bill was just filed in Congress by Representative Luz Ilagan of the Party-list Gabriela which seeks to legalize divorce, for some special circumstances, here in the Philippines.  This would, either for good or bad, drastically change the social landscape of the Philippines. Who are going to troop into the courts, the poor or the rich? Whoever would, could the country afford it, if the result is, in the very least, a “disheveled” society?


So, what is divorce? Legally speaking, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage contracted between a man and a woman, by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, or by an act of the legislature. There are two kinds of divorce: 1. a vinculo matrimonii, which dissolves and totally severs the marriage tie; and, 2. a mensa et thoro, which merely separates the parties from bed and board.


Actually it is a misconception for most Filipinos to think that there are no existing divorce laws in our country.  The Philippines already has a divorce law of general application, under Title II the Family Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 209). The said legal provision though is only divorce a mensa et thoro, thus, only legally separating the parties from bed and board and does not totally sever the marriage ties In effect, it does not allow either party to remarry. What the new bill is actually proposing is a divorce a vinculo matrimonii which would, in effect, totally dissolve the bond of marriage and, thus, allowing either or both party to remarry.


The Philippines also already has a law which allows divorce a vinculo matrimonii. However, its application is limited in scope.  The said law is under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines” (Republic Act No. 1083) and defined as “the formal dissolution of the marriage bond in accordance with this Code to be granted only after the exhaustion of all possible means of reconciliation between the spouses.” The divorce provisions of R.A. 1083 only applies when both parties are Muslims or when the man is a Muslim and the marriage was solemnized according to the Islamic law.


The Philippines, being a country with a population that is predominantly Roman Catholic and with the majority of people leaning towards conservative social ideals makes divorce such a touchy issue. That is all the more reason why it is best that we know the facts before we make a decision whether for or against it. An informed decision is always the best decision after all.

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