The Philippines’ House of Representatives has approved a measure to do away with the lengthy and costly judicial process of marriage annulment.
According to a report from The Philippine Daily Inquirer, House Bill No. 6779 was approved on its third and final reading on January 29.
The measure will provide for church annulment decrees to have the same effect as annulment and dissolution rulings from the courts. This would make civil proceedings unnecessary for religious marriages.
In other words, as long as you were married by a “priest, minister, rabbi or presiding elder” of a church and have had your marriage dissolved by the corresponding religious body, you don’t have to take the additional step of having your civil marriage dissolved.
Currently, only Muslim couples who are divorced according to Islamic laws have their divorce recognized by the civil government.
The bill, which was authored by Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia and Leyte 1st District Representative Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, passed the House with 203 votes. It is now going to be passed to the senate.
Romualdez cited Pope Francis’ influence as being behind the reasoning for the bill. Pope Francis has called for a “briefer annulment process that involves the local bishop and requires only a single judgement” in order for annulment decrees to be recognized by the church and civil authorities.
House Bill N0. 6779 also contains provisions that provide for the custody and support of children. It also provides for the liquidation, partition, and distribution of properties to be agreed on by both parties and embodied into a public document.
After the annulment, both parties would be free to remarry as long as thjey comply with the requirements of the family code of the Philippines.
The approval of this bill is relatively good news as, like we wrote about in a previous article, the cost of annulments tends to rise the longer the case takes. Shortening the process may not take away the emotional pain involved, but it could lessen the monetary toll.