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The Grounds for Absolute Divorce under Senate Bill 356

The Grounds for Absolute Divorce under Senate Bill 356 as introduced by Senator Risa Hontiveros and filed last July 11, 2019 are the following, to wit:

  1. The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, provided that physical violence and grossly abusive conduct under Article 55(1) need not be repeated offenses to be considered as ground;
  2. The grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines, provided that the grounds cited in numbers 2, 5, 6 of Article 45 may either have existed at the time of the marriage, or supervening after the marriage;
  3. Psychological incapacity of either spouse as provided for in Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, whether or not the incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage or later;
  4. All acts mentioned under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004;
  5. The commission of the crime of rape by the respondent-spouse against the petitioner-spouse before the celebration of marriage;
  6. When one of the spouses has been sentenced by final judgment under Republic Act No. 9262, or a permanent protection order has been issued in favour of the petitioner spouse against the other spouse under the mentioned Acts is the petitioner –spouse or their common children;
  7. When the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines for at least two (2) years;
  8. When the spouses have been separated in fact for at least five (5) years at the time the petitioner for absolute divorce is filed, and reconciliation is highly improbable;
  9. Irreconcilable marital difference or irreparable breakdown of the marriage, despite earnest efforts at reconciliation.

For reference, Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides:

Art. 55. A petition for legal separation 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 by adoption. (9a)

On the other hand, Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines states:

Art. 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:

(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;

(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or

(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. (85a)

The Acts of Violence under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9262 as a ground for absolute divorce are the following:

SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children.- The crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:

(a) Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;

(b) Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

(c) Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

(d) Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;

(e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman’s or her child’s movement or conduct:

(1) Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;

(2) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support;

(3) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;

(4) Preventing the woman in engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controlling the victim’s own mon4ey or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;

(f) Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;

(g) Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;

(h) Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:

(1) Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;

(2) Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;

(3) Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;

(4) Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and

(5) Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;

(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman’s child/children.

Download the full text of Senate Bill 356.

https://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-356

Related stories:
The Last Country in the World Where Divorce Is Illegal | ForeignPolicy.com
Senate conducts first hearing on divorce bill | GMA News Online
Senate hears proposals to legalize divorce in PH | CNN Philippines
Forum: Are You In Favor of or Against Absolute Divorce in the Philippines

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