Can you imagine living in a country where divorce is illegal?

Divorce is never ideal. Even in the most amicable of divorces, it is never the outcome that any couple dreams of on the day that they fall in love and decide to get married. However, as difficult as divorce might be, financially, emotionally, and otherwise, imagine the alternative. Imagine that you are stuck married to a spouse with whom you are miserable, just because the laws of your county make it that way.

This is exactly the case in the Philippines, the only country in the world (outside of the Vatican), where divorce is still illegal. There, couples may file for a legal separation, which would allow them to lead separate lives and split their property, but they remain legally married. If parties do become legally separated, they are not able to remarry later, and even worse, if they become engaged in a new relationship even after legal separation has been granted, they risk being criminally charged for committing adultery.

In the Philippines, the only real “out” for couples that don’t want to be married anymore is to seek an annulment, with some minor exceptions. (For example, Muslims are allowed to file for divorce.) Unfortunately, the annulment process in the Philippines is often a long and daunting one. The process can lead to a nasty and bitter battle between spouses, and often cost exponentially more than the average Philippine citizen can afford. And, after all of that, there is no guarantee that the annulment will be granted (although some reports say that this system has opened the door for corruption, where some judges accept bribes in order to grant annulments).

Just as in California, in order to seek an annulment in the Philippines, the party or parties must prove that the marriage itself was never valid in the first place. This requires proof that of some psychological disorder, lack of consent, or other allowable condition under the country’s laws which would essentially show that a legal marriage never actually existed.  Unfortunately, physical abuse, and abandonment are not grounds for annulment, nor is infidelity. Many reports show that many men (and probably some women), take full advantage of that, knowing that if they are unfaithful to their spouses, the spouse will not be able to divorce them anyways.

To read more about obtaining an annulment in California, click here and here.

To read more about annulments in the Catholic Church, click here.

To read more about legal separation in California, click here.

So, overall, as difficult as ending a marriage may be (or can become) here in California, we should all at least appreciate and be thankful for the fact that we have the freedom to get a divorce in this country, no matter what the reason, and that there are comprehensive divorce laws in California which offer protections to both spouses throughout the divorce process.

Please contact us if you are considering divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding mediation and the mediation privilege. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.


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