Annulment Made Easy

The measure will do away with the long and costly judicial process of marriage annulment.

The House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill legalizing Church-decreed annulment of marriages. The measure will also do away with the long and costly judicial process of marriage annulment. Voting 203-0, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 6779, or “An Act Recognizing the Civil Effects of Church Annulment Decrees”, principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Currently, Philippine laws only recognize divorce under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, which is based on Shariah law. There is no divorce for non-Muslims in the country. But once the proposed measure is enacted, whenever a marriage solemnized by a church leader is annulled in accordance with church laws, the annulment should have the same effect as a court-decreed annulment.

The bill also provides that the decree of annulment shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry within 30 days from the issuance of the final judgment.

“In this context, recognizing the civil effects of Church annulment decrees will address the need to ensure that those who find themselves in such a difficult marital situation will have the benefit of a more efficient and affordable procedure that can help ease their conscience and may permit them to move on in freedom from a truly irreparable relationship,” Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez vice chairperson of the House committee on government enterprises and privatization said in her sponsorship speech.

Romualdez also cited the pope's introduction of a "briefer annulment process" that involves the local bishop and only requires and requires only a single judgment, dropping the need for an automatic appeal to a higher tribunal.

"While he reaffirmed traditional teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, he streamlined annulment procedures which many considered cumbersome, lengthy, outdated and expensive to make it affordable and accessible to Catholics," said Romualdez.

The measure also provides that the status of children of marriages subject of the church annulment decree shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines.

In the case that the grounds for church annulment is not similar to any of the grounds provided in Philippine laws, children born or conceived before the issuance of the church annulment shall be considered legitimate.

Under the bill, either of the former spouses may marry again after complying with the requirements of the Family Code of the Philippines, otherwise, the subsequent marriage shall be null and void.

Other authors of the bill include Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Lakas-CMD, Leyte) and Sol Aragones (NPC, Laguna). HB No. 6779 has no counterpart bill in the Senate.