There is divorce in the Philippines

Contrary to the popular legal myth, there is divorce in the Philippines. Others, with opposite views, may disagree. But that myth, which is already deeply ingrained in the minds of every Filipino, can easily be debunked.

Though in its strict legal sense it means the legal dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage, divorce actually consists of, and may be divided into, two different kinds, namely: absolute divorce and relative divorce.

In absolute divorce or divortio a vinculo matrimonii, the marriage is dissolved. As such, the parties can remarry.

On the other hand, in relative divorce or divortio a mensa et thoro, the marriage is not dissolved. It merely permits separation from bed and board, leaving the marriage bond in full force. As such, the parties cannot remarry.

It is of common knowledge that our laws do not, as a rule, recognize absolute divorce. But, while this may be true, it is erroneous, if not inaccurate, to make a sweeping assertion to the effect that there is no divorce in the Philippines.

That is because our laws explicitly recognize relative divorce, only that it was termed differently in our statute books as legal separation, but with exactly the same meaning and effects.

[References: Grace J. Garcia, a.k.a. Grace J. Garcia-Recio vs. Rederick A. Recio, G.R. No. 138322, October 2, 2001, The Family Code of the Philippines Annotated (2001 Edition) by Dean Ernesto L. Pineda (Pages 123-124), Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated, Fourteenth Edition (1998), Volume One (Persons and Family Relations) by Edgardo L. Paras (Page 446, No. 1), and the Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines (1988, 1995, Reprint October, 2000 with additional jurisprudence and new legislation) by Alicia V. Sempio-Diy (Page 87)]

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