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Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

ELEVENTH CONGRESS

First Regular Session
HOUSE BILL NO. 6993


By Representative Manuel C. Ortega

AN ACT
LEGALIZING DIVORCE, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE TITLE II AND
ARTICLES 55 TO 67 THEREUNDER OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 209,
AS AMENDED BY EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 227, OTHERWISE KNOWN
AS THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES


 
            Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

            SECTION. 1. Title II of Executive Order No. 209, as amended by Executive Order No. 227, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, is hereby amended to read as follows:

            "TITLE II [LEGAL SEPARATION] DIVORCE."

            SEC. 2. Articles 55 to 67 of the same Code are hereby amended to read as follows:

            "Art. 55. A petition for [legal separation] DIVORCE may be filed on any of the following grounds:
  (1)Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;
  (2)Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
  (3)Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
  (4)Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;
  (5)Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
  (6)Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
  (7)Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad;
  (8)Sexual infidelity or perversion;
  (9)Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
  (10)Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

            For purposes of this Article, the term "child" shall include a child by nature or adoption.

            IN ADDITION, A PETITION FOR DIVORCE MAY BE FILED UPON A SHOWING THAT THERE IS AN IRREMEDIABLE BREAKDOWN OF THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP DUE TO IRRECONCILABLE MARITAL DIFFERENCES. SAID PETITION MUST SPECIFICALLY ALLEGE THE GROUNDS WHICH DESTROY THE LEGITIMATE ENDS OF THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP AND PREVENT ANY REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS OF RECONCILIATION."

            "Art. 56. The petition for [legal separation] DIVORCE shall be denied on any of the following grounds:
  (1)Where the [aggrieved party] PETITIONER has condoned the offense or act complained of;
  (2)Where the [aggrieved party] PETITIONER has consented to the commission of the offense or act complained of;
  (3)Where there is connivance between the parties in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for [legal separation] DIVORCE;
  (4)Where both parties have given ground for [legal separation] DIVORCE;
  (5)Where there is collusion between the parties to obtain the decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE; [or]
  (6)Where the action is barred by prescription[.];
  (7)WHERE THE IRRECONCILABLE MARITAL DIFFERENCES ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY DIVORCE; OR
  (8)WHERE THE PETITIONER HAS NOT RESIDED WITHIN THE PHILIPPINES FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR PRIOR TO THE FILING OF THE PETITION, UNLESS THE CAUSE UPON WHICH THE PETITION IS BASED OCCURRED WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF THE PHILIPPINES."

            "Art. 57. An action for [legal separation] DIVORCE shall be filed within ONE YEAR FROM THE TIME THE PETITIONER BECOMES COGNIZANT OF THE CAUSE AND WITHIN five years from the time of the occurrence of the cause.
            IN THE CASE OF GROUNDS OR CAUSES FOR DIVORCE WHICH OCCURRED PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT, THE ACTION MAY BE FILED WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF ITS EFFECTIVITY: PROVIDED THAT SAID GROUNDS OR CAUSES OCCURRED WITHIN FIVE YEARS FROM THE FILING OF THE ACTION.
            PETITIONS FOR LEGAL SEPARATION FILED BEFORE THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT MAY BE AMENDED TO ACTIONS FOR DIVORCE: PROVIDED THAT SAID AMENDMENTS ARE MADE WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF ITS EFFECTIVITY."

            "Art. 58. An action for [legal separation] DIVORCE shall in no case be tried before six months have elapsed since the filing of the petition."

            "Art. 59. No [legal separation] DIVORCE may be decreed unless the court has taken steps toward the reconciliation of the spouses and is fully satisfied, despite such efforts, that reconciliation is highly improbable."

            "Art. 60. No decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE shall be based upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment.
            In any case, the court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not fabricated or suppressed."

            "Art. 61. After the filing of the petition for [legal separation] DIVORCE, the spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other.
            The court, in the absence of a written agreement between the spouses, shall designate either of them or a third person to administer the absolute community or conjugal partnership property. The administrator appointed by the court shall have the same powers and duties as those of a guardian under the Rules of Court."

            "Art. 62. During the pendency of the action for [legal separation] DIVORCE, the provisions of Article 49 shall likewise apply to the support of the spouses and the custody and support of the common children."

            "Art. 63. The decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE shall have the following effects:
  (1)THE MARRIAGE BONDS SHALL BE DISSOLVED ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE ON WHICH THE DECREE BECOMES FINAL. The DIVORCED spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other AND TO REMARRY THEREAFTER [, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed];
  (2)The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and liquidated [but the offending spouse]. IF THE DECREE OF DIVORCE IS GRANTED PURSUANT TO THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF ARTICLE 55, THE NET PROFITS OF THE ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OR CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP SHALL BE DIVIDED EQUALLY BETWEEN OR IN A MANNER AGREED UPON BY THE PARTIES. IN THE EVENT THAT THERE IS AN ADJUDGED OFFENDING SPOUSE, SAID SPOUSE shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, which shall be forfeited in accordance with the provisions of Article 43 (2);
  (3)The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, OR, IN THE CASE OF A DECREE OBTAINED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF ARTICLE 55, TO THE SPOUSE ADJUDGED TO BE MORE CAPABLE IN ENSURING THIER MORAL, MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING, subject to the provisions of Article 213 of this Code; [and]
  (4)The [offending spouse] DIVORCED SPOUSES shall be disqualified from inheriting from [the innocent spouse] EACH OTHER by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse mad in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law[.];
  (5)CHILDREN OF DIVORCED PARENTS SHALL BE ENTITLED TO SUPPORT AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER THIS CODE. IN ADDITION, THESE CHILDREN SHALL BE DELIVERED THEIR RESPECTIVE LEGITIME ONE YEAR AFTER THE DECREE OF DIVORCE BECOMES FINAL, OTHERWISE, THE DECREE SHALL NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL EFFECT WITH RESPECT TO THE SPOUSE WHO DEFAULTS ON SUCH OBLIGATION.
  CHILDREN OF DIVORCED SPOUSES SHALL LIKEWISE RETAIN ALL RIGHTS OF SUCCESSION WITH RESPECT TO THEIR PARENTS BUT SHALL BRING TO COLLATION THE LEGITIME PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED UNDER THIS PROVISION WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION TO RETURN ANY AMOUNT SUBSEQUENTLY DETERMINED TO BE IN EXCESS OF THE VALUE THEY ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE.

            "Art. 64. After the finality of the decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE, the innocent spouse OR BOTH SPOUSES IN CASE OF DECREES PURSUANT TO THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF ARTICLE 55, may revoke the donations made by him or her in favor of the [offending] OTHER spouse, as well as the designation of the latter as beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable. The revocation of the donations shall be recorded in the registries of property in the places where the properties are located. Alienations, liens and encumbrances registered in good faith before the recording of the complaint for revocation in the registries of property shall be respected. The revocation of or change in the designation of the insurance beneficiary shall take effect upon written notification thereof to the [insured] INSURER.
            The action to revoke the donation under this Article must be brought within five years from the time the decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE has become final."

            "Art. 65. If the spouses should reconcile, a corresponding joint manifestation under oath duly signed by them shall be filed with the court in the same proceeding for [legal separation] DIVORCE."

            "Art. 66. The reconciliation referred to in the preceding Article shall have the following consequences:
  (1)The [legal separation] DIVORCE proceedings, if still pending, shall thereby be terminated at whatever stage; and
  (2)The final decree of [legal separation] DIVORCE shall be set aside, but the separation of property and any forfeiture of the share of the guilty spouse already affected shall subsist, unless the spouses agree to revive their former property regime.
            The court's order containing the foregoing shall be recorded in the proper civil registries."

            "Art. 67. The agreement to revive the former property regime referred to in the preceeding Article shall be executed under oath and shall specify:
  (1)The properties to be contributed anew to the restored regime;
  (2)Those to be returned as separated properties of each spouse; and
  (3)The names of all their known creditors, their addresses and the amounts owing to each.
            The agreement of revival and the motion for its approval shall be filed with the court in the same proceeding for [legal separation] DIVORCE, with copies of both furnished to the creditors named therein. After due hearing, the court shall, in its order, take measures to protect the interest of creditors and such order shall be recorded in the proper registries of properties.
            The recording of the order in the registries of property shall not prejudice any creditor not listed or not notified, unless the debtor-spouse has sufficient separate properties to satisfy the creditor's claim."

            SEC. 3. Separability Clause. - If any part or provision of this Act is declared invalid, the remainder or any provision thereof not affected shall remain in force and effect.

            SEC. 4. Repealing Clause. - The provisions of any law, executive order, presidential decree or other issuances inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

            SEC. 5. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

            Approved,

 

 

 

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

First Regular Session
ELEVENTH CONGRESS

HOUSE BILL NO. 6993


Introduced by Representative Manuel C. Ortega

EXPLANATORY NOTE

            This bill seeks to amend Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, as amended by Executive Order No. 227, by allowing absolute divorce (a vinculo matrimonii) and thereby granting legally separated spouses the right to remarry.

            Today not all marriages succeed as a permanent union. An increasing number of married individuals find themselves subjected by their marriage partners to physical violence, grossly abusive conduct and other acts of or offenses that -- rather than promote blissful, harmonious conjugal and family life -- impair, debase or destroy the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship. This bill thus seeks to give spouses whi are shacked by an irretrievably broken marriage the freedom to remarry and possibly succeed in attaining a stable and fulfilling family life.

            Divorce is not a novel legal right granted by Philippine civil laws: the Family Code of the Philippines sanctions relative divorce (a mensa et thoro). Under the provision of Title II of said Code, legal separation, or separation from bed and board, is a recognized remedy for victims of failed marriages. To be sure, our civil laws have always recognized the need to allow married individuals to sever conjugal ties under certain justifiable conditions.

            Neither is divorce an institution exclusive to contemporary times. Historical records indicate that long before the advent of Spanish colonial rule beginning in the early 16th century, absolute divorce had been widely practiced among our ancestral tribes -- the Tagbanwas of Palawan, the Gadang of Nueva Vizcaya, the Sagada and Igorot of the Cordilleras, the Manobo, Bila-an and Moslems of Visayas and Mindanao islands, to name a few. During the Spanish regime, the law on divorce was the Siete Partidas which allowed only legal separation. The Spanish Civil Code on the subject were among those suspended by Governor General Weyler in 1889, and was never enforced since.

            In 1917 Act 2710 was passed by the Philippine Legislature repealing the Siete Partidas by allowing divorce on the grounds of adultery on the part of the wife and concubinage on the part of the husband. During the Japanese Occupation, a new law on absolute divorce, E.O. No. 141, was promulgated providing for ten grounds for divorce. The law lasted until 1944 when Gen. Douglas MacArthur re-established the Commonwealth Government by proclamation which in effect repealed E.O. No. 141 and revived Act 2710.

            In 1950, Act 2710 was repealed by the Civil Code of the Philippines which allows only legal separation. The draft of the Code, however, had provisions on absolute divorce which was subsequently eliminated and substituted with legal separation. The present Family Code of the Philippines also does not allow divorce (except a divorce obtained by the alien spouse of a Filipino citizen abroad), but it has expaded the grounds for legal separation to ten. Indeed, quoting a respected Filipino historical writer, "the law has come full circle".

            While the Family Code of the Philippines allows relative divorce, it prohibits lawfully separated spouses from exercising the right to remarry. Under our present laws, legal separation does not dissolve the marriage bond between legally separated spouses; said parties are considered married individuals for all legal intents and purposes. Our civil laws on marriage justify and allow the separation of married individuals but does not confer them the legal right or remedy to extricate themselves from the ordeal of a broken marriage.

            In the light of the foregoing, it is proposed that our present laws on marriage be amended to allow absolute divorce or dissolution of marriage. Based on the increasing number of failed marriages which confines many of our citizens to a perpetual state of marital limbo, it has become morally and socially acceptable for many Filipinos to grant spouses of broken marriages the legal right to remarry. The present grounds for legal separation which are recognized in our society as justifiable bases for relative divorce should be re-enacted as lawful grounds for absolute divorce. In addition, it is recommended that "irreconcilable marital differences" be included in our present civil laws as a justifiable cause for absolute divorce because not all circumstances and situations that vitiate the institution of marriage could be specifically categorized and defined by our lawmakers. Spouses living in a state of irreparable marital conflict or discord should be given the opportunity to present their marital contrarieties before the courts and have such differences adjudged as substantial grounds to dissolve or sever the legal bond of marriage.

            Approval of this Bill is earnestly sought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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