House OKs bill making marriage annulment easier

House of Representatives

Manila, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the measure that would do away with the lengthy and costly judicial process of marriage annulment.

House Bill No. 6779, authored by Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia and Leyte 1st Dist. Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, was passed with 203 votes on Monday afternoon.

The said measure would provide for church annulment decrees to have the same effect as annulment and dissolution rulings by the courts, making civil proceedings unnecessary for religious marriages.

It would also provide that the custody and support for children, and the liquidation, partition and distribution properties be agreed on by the spouses and embodied in a public document.

Church annulment decrees would have to be recorded in the appropriate civil registries along with the spouses’ agreement on child custody and the properties.

The former spouses would be allowed to remarry after complying with the recording requirement as well as the requirements of the Family Code of the Philippines.

The bill would apply to marriages duly and legally solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi, or presiding elder of any church or religious sect in the country.

Currently, the State only recognizes the civil effect of divorce under Sharia, or Islamic, law.

Romualdez cited Pope Francis’ call for a “briefer annulment process that involves the local bishop, and requires only a single judgment, dropping the need for an automatic appeal to a higher tribunal” in proposing the civil recognition of church annulment decrees.

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