The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia. A divorce law had been proposed several times but can’t pass. The Bible states “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife… and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9)
There is a legal separation law which does not allow the parties to remarry. There is an outrageously costly annulment that would allow remarrying. The going rate is the peso equivalent of $3000 and up, a small fortune that could go into a home down payment or a child’s college tuition.
In a legal separation, custody and child support are privately settled. Settling the community properties would be a lot simpler than in America. In the Philippines anything inherited from parents such as jewelry, real estate or any big ticket item remains with the heir. That law was meant to protect against a gold digger. Assets earned during the course of the marriage would be equally divided on the premise that without the unemployed partner’s help in managing the household and raising the children the breadwinner would not have netted much. Remarrying legally would still constitute bigamy.
How does the absence of a divorce law affect the family in particular and society in general? Most couples would rather suffer in silence and stay for the children’s sake or agree to discretely cheat on each other. It’s not unusual to have the unspoken agreement kept from the children introducing the third parties as friends of the family. Gossip could be avoided if the couple were friendly to each other in public.
Some children of separated parents have adjusted to ‘undocumented step parents’. Some have learned to manipulate their parents into competing with each other for their love. In simple arithmetic four Christmas presents instead of the usual one signed from mom and dad should make any kid happy.
The spouse that gets to keep the children better have the finances to start over. The spouse who lost the children could simply move on to a new relationship and have a new set of children.
Divorce in the US has become complicated from the day it was instituted. Child custody, alimony and child support are emotionally charged issues. Failure to comply could entail jail time. Property settlement whether it involved big or small money, when both parties feel it’s all they got, divvying it wouldn’t be easy. Reality crime shows on television are fed by spouse murders arising from an impending divorce and irreconcilable financial interests. When a mutual life insurance is bought as a loving gesture the cash incentive may become too irresistible at the height of conflict.
Do Filipinos need a divorce law, maybe in another hundred years?