The Only Country Left In The World That Still Bans Divorce

Here in the Philippines, we tend to take “’til death do us part” quite literally. Apart from the Vatican, the Philippines remains as the only country in the world where divorce is illegal.

As the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, the country has held on to the religious beliefs imposed on us upon 300 years of Spanish rule, and until today, religion still continues to influence decisions on secular laws — all this despite the fact that the Constitution guarantees the separation of the Church and the State, and that simply not everyone in the Philippines is Catholic.

Filipinos Survey Divorce

Case in point: a bill pushing for reproductive health has long been in limbo for almost two decades due to opposition from the Catholic Church, before the Reproductive Health Law was passed in 2012 — and even now, the five-year-old law has yet to be fully enacted.

Women’s groups and certain lawmakers have long been pushing for legislation that would immediately dissolve marriage, yet of course — this is not without its hurdles. Critics of divorce continue to quote the oft-cited Bible passage: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” They say that a divorce law would taint the institution of marriage, and would be an excuse for couples to take the easy way out of fulfilling their marital responsibilities. Yet the fact remains that there are countless dysfunctional families, with at least one of them, usually husbands and fathers, who have long reneged on their marital and familial vows, abandoning their spouses and children to fend for themselves.

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So while the possibility of implementing a divorce law in the Philippines remains distant at the moment, what are your other options so far if you’re stuck in marital misery?

What are your options?

The Philippines currently allows for legal separation, which terminates the marital obligations between the spouses to live as husband and wife. This means that the spouses can live apart and separate their possessions, but this does not sever the marriage, meaning either spouse cannot remarry.

Meanwhile, another option and the closest thing we have to divorce is annulment, a legal process that declares the marriage null and void. This means that the parties have to prove that the marriage was invalid from the beginning, which require to be proven based on several grounds. Unlike divorce, infidelity, physical abuse, and irreconcilable differences are not enough basis for annulment.

Once the petition for annulment is approved, the spouses’ status is reverted to the one before their marriage, and they are allowed to remarry.

An annulment may be a long, tedious, and sometimes expensive process, but it’s not at all impossible. Many individuals have since found freedom and happiness after successfully filing an annulment to end their marriages.

Whichever course you choose, best of luck and remember to keep a clear head.

Should the Philippines legalize divorce? Let us know your thoughts!