Church annulment is processed through any church or religion of which one is a member. In the Philippines, this is predominantly the Catholic church which is known to pass on applications for annulments through a matrimonial tribunal. The legal basis for annulment is the Canon Law which lists, among other grounds , psychological incapacity, fraud, force or intimidation, insanity, mental illness, lack of consent, a petitioner never intended to be permanently married or faithful, and that substance abuse prevented them from consenting to a lifelong marriage.( Annulment, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, )
These grounds are similar to civil or court annulments and there was an attempt by the Philippine Congress to even automatically recognize church annulments.The Philippine House of Representatives in 2018 passed on third reading HB 6779 entitled “AN ACT RECOGNIZING THE CIVIL EFFECT OF CHURCH ANNULMENT DECREE” which aims to have a church or religious annulment automatically recognized by law and allows for its registration. This has been criticized as violating the constitutional principle of separation of church and state . Please CLICK HERE for our detailed discussion of the proposed legislation. Just like most matters having to do with the dissolution of marriage in the Philippines, the Senate refused to adopt the bill and it died a natural death. Annulments in the Catholic Church have been known to take as much as ten years and involve multiple trials. Streamlining of the process has since been commenced by Pope Francis and is reputedly now free.
Civil or court annulment, on the other hand, is processed with designated family courts under the aegis of the Family Code of the Philippines. Common grounds include minority (below 18), lack of a marriage license, lack of authority of the solemnizing officer, bigamous, and polygamous marriages.
The most important thing to remember about court and church annulments is that one is independent of the other. If the objective were to remarry in any church, one has to obtain both types of annulments. If one wants to remarry ONLY in accordance with the law, then only the court annulment is required. The Constitution of the Philippines, after all, provides for the separation of church and state.
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