A new bill was filed last week in the House of Representative which purportedly seeks to simplify the process of getting an annulment of marriage in the Philippines. The proposed legislation would make the three grounds of violence, infidelity, and abandonment as “presumptively constitutive” of psychological incapacity. The proposal which would in effect amend the Family Code of the Philippines aims to facilitate the process of annulment for the poor who cannot afford the supposedly high cost of getting an annulment, as it would limit the discretion of the judges insofar as these three grounds are concerned. But will it, really?? Presently, for instance, the Supreme Court has removed the requirement that the psychological incapacity be “clinical” in nature, thus removing the erstwhile mandatory requirement of a psychological evaluation by an expert. However, most if not all Family Court judges still require the psychological evaluation in practice, and lawyers follow suit and submit expert testimony in any event. It is highly unlikely that the bill will curb judicial discretion in the same manner. If at all, it will focus the bench more on these three grounds and require more exacting evidence. The solution is consensual divorce with a summary judgment feature after about 6 months of filing. The holier than thou stance taken by the Philippines on this issue has put it infamously and ridiculously with the Vatican and Malta as the only states that do not allow divorce.

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