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Recently ran an article about a possible new law that, if passed,  would legalize divorce in the Philippines which will soon be the only country in the world without such legislation. However, I discovered that divorce already does exist in the Philippines.DSCIn the June 5, 2011 edition of The Philippine STAR, an editorial  “Postscript” column by Federico D. Pascual Jr pointed out that divorce is allowed in the Philippines under the Shariah law among  Muslims who comprise around five percent of the  of this island nation.

The columnist was advised in a Twitter message by Adel Tamano, a respected attorney in the Philippines, that “It is incorrect to say that the Philippines has no divorce law. The Code of Muslim Personal Laws specifically recognizes Islamic divorce.”

Sharīʿa (the “way” or “path”) is the  code of conduct or religious law of Islam, according to Wikipedia.  Most Muslims  believe Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Qur’an,   and the example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammed in the Sunnah (which literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road.)

Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they differ as to what exactly it entails. Modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views of Sharia, as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought.  Different countries and cultures have varying interpretations of Sharia as well.

The article states that “this special law, discriminatory to non-Muslims, permits qualified men to maintain many wives (as many as four) and later divorce those they have ceased to love/like/tolerate.”

Mr. Pascaul goes on to state the following in his editorial:  “No wonder some prominent politicians, movie stars, and other VIPs ‘convert’ to Islam and take advantage of what looks like legalized polygamy.”

Notice there is no provision stated in that portion of the  Shairah law which I see that allows divorce for women.   Also, one of my faithful readers of this website has emailed me in the past to inform me that conversions to Islam are also on the  increase in nearby Iloilo.  I cannot be the judge of the reasons for such conversions,  but it would seem that the editorial’s reasoning that some of these converts may be simply taking advantage of “legalized polygamy” is a distinct possibility.

But yet those women or men in the Philippines trapped in marriages with unfaithful or abusive spouses are only left with a costly annulment process which only the rich can afford.  And those that choose a legal separation are forbidden to legally remarry.  Does it appear to anyone reading about this  legalization of divorce and polygamy for a small minority smacks of a double standard? While I will respect any religion’s rights and the concept of civil disobedience, to a point, when that religion’s  laws directly conflict with any nation’s current laws and undermines them and discriminates against the majority,  it seems that religion may hold the trump card in the Philippines.

25 thoughts on “Is There A Legal Divorce Option in the Philippines?

  1. Hi Dave: When I was a graduate student at Texas Woman’s University, I became friends with a Saudi princess who was in my major at the same class level. We were classmates for three years. She already had her doctorate degree in Chemistry from Oxford University. She was completing another one at Texas Woman’s in Textiles Science. I asked her why she punted for another doctorate degree. Was she a glutton for punishment? Her answer was that her punishment for being a woman would be much worse. That would be the third wife of a husband her parents had chosen for her. If she stayed in college until the age of 32 years, she would be considered an old bride and the agreement would be eliminated. She was biding her time. She hoped to be financially independent from her family by becoming an educator. With a double Ph.D., I’m sure that she had already done so if she wished. She used to lend me her burka to try on. We got a good laugh as it feels like a portable prison.

    1. Rosalyn,

      I applaud her for wanting to be independent from her wealthy family and not being forced into a marriage she did not want. Can you imagine how hot it would be to wear that Burka? I see France outlawed woman wearing Burkas. Have a nice day.

      1. Hi Papa Duck: The burka is hot. You can’t see on both sides. You’ll run into tables, chairs, and anything on the sides. In the streets, the woman wears the black abaya (shroud and burka). The man wears either modern street clothing or their traditional costume (usually in white). The woman must follow the man (not to his side nor to his front). The woman, totally in black and covered in the desert, must feel very hot in her portable prison.

  2. Smart lady but I hope she got a decent divorce settlement, as Islamic Sharia law discriminates against women and non-Muslims.

  3. Hi all,Education,Education! It does not matter what religion you have….it’s about Education & Family morals & the need for change with the Philippines Government. Where is the middle class….hardly exists!

  4. hi guys. Just wanted to tell you that there is an option for a Muslim woman to file for divorce using tafwid. It’s like a pre-nup agreement where the guy signs/agrees to give the lady the right to divorce him, and its effect would be the same as if the divorce was filed by the man. I had that with my husband and now i’m contemplating on using it.. I ‘m just wondering where I could file for divorce since I’m in the US and he’s in the Philippines..

  5. Under the Shari’a, the most common form of divorce is by way of talaq or repudiation of the wife by the husband, with or without her consent. If it is the wife who has grounds for divorce & the husband refuses to grant it, she has to petition the shari’a court for divorce by faskh. The court will then issue a divorce decree to the wife. This is the rules of procedure followed by shari’a courts of the Philippines.

    1. Anyone help me on this strange one ?
      Philipino woman marries a non philipine man overseas. He is Muslim so therefore they are married under sharia law in Kuwait, Woman then divorces man in Kuwait (where they married) Where does this leave the woman exactly regarding remarrying … anyone any ideas ?

  6. After much searching, I came upon your blog/webpage and I must say I am most grateful! Reason being, I am engaged to a Filipina living on the island of Mindanao who has been separated from her husband for 12 years, yet as it is widely known, [she] cannot legally obtain a government recognize/acknowledged divorce due the Philippine government’s 14th century medieval state of mind. In my research, (and please someone tell me if there’s an alternate path to follow), unless one is rich or of high-status, e.g., a Philippine movie star, government Senate, (upper level) member, etc., you’re pretty much stuck with being separated from a former spouse and that’s about it. However, my fiancée’s sister told me of this Sharia Law option, which when she initially informed me of this alternative method of obtaining a Philippine legal divorce I promptly told her she was off her flippin’ rocker. Far be it for me to know that she was actually correct and since I plan to retire to the Philippines, my fiancée can indeed legally obtain a divorce, sever all ties with her ex-husband, (especially any opportunity for him to claim financial gain in his favor from us), and she and I can be together, legally married. Now if only I can get past the converting to Islam issue albeit briefly, since I’m an avowed atheist, (yet respect all religions and do not wish to show disrespect to them solely for my own gain), and my fiancée’ Roman Catholic, but that’s a WHOLE other story in and of itself.

    1. Sir, there IS a DIVORCE OPTION for FOREIGNERS in the Philippines. Look up Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines. It states there: “Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. ”

      Effect: If your wife obtains american citizenship, and this is granted, then she can use the above option, because now, she will be considered as a foreigner under philippine law.

      On the other hand, your fiancee can also obtain an annulment of marriage, on the ground of Psychological incapacity, under article 36 of the same code. It says: “Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”

      Here is a legal link: http://www.chanrobles.com/executiveorderno209.htm

      You can use these provisions of laws as starting points, from here, you may be able to find Philippine Supreme Court decisions that may further explain the effects and application of these articles. Best of all, these decisions by the Philippine Supreme Court are written in 1930’s style American english, so that wouldn’t be much of a problem I guess.

      Here is a supreme court case that first explained what psychological incapacity is: http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1997/jan1997/gr_119190_1997.html

      If you arm yourself with these knowledge, no lawyer can scam you and trick you into a long process. Good luck mate.

      (by the way, I’m not a lawyer, I just happen to stumble on these things)

      1. Thanks much for your input, Kaltehitze. You’re one smart guy. And by the way, on a subject completely off-topic has the Crave Burger location you took me now vanished? I’ve passed there several times in a jeepney, and it looks like some inferior joint in inhabiting the location.

        1. Thanks dave. =)

          At any rate…according to my sources…the Crave burger joint has been converted into a japanese fastfood restaurant, Misono Express.

          However, the Crave Burger branch in the Smallville complex has been revived, its just beside the Iloilo Business Hotel. I’ve no idea if this is true, but i suggest that you check it out, for the sake good ole burgers. =)

    2. Hi LXXXII,
      Check the “Primer on the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines” for more info:

      Was your Catholic Filipina fiancée’s husband a Muslim and the marriage solemnized in accordance with Muslim law? If not, it may be difficult to get a Sharia divorce. See page 5:
      The CMPL applies to marriage and divorce wherein:
      – Both parties are Muslims, or
      – Only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or this Code in any part of the Philippines.
      (Art. 13.1)
      In case of a marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim that has been solemnized not in accordance with Muslim law or this Code, the Civil Code of the Philippines shall apply. (Art. 13.2)”

      If your wife converts to Islam, on page 12 it says:
      The conversion of non-Muslim spouses to Islam shall have the legal effect of rectifying their marriage as if the same had been performed in accordance with the provisions of this Code or Muslim law, provided that there is no legal impediment to the marriage under Muslim law. (Art. 178)
      The provisions of the Revised Penal Code relative to the crime of bigamy shall not apply to a person married in accordance with the provisions of this Code or, before its effectivity, under Muslim law. (Art. 180)”

      Page 14:
      The court may, upon petition of the wife, decree a divorce by faskh on any of the following grounds:
      – Neglect or failure of the husband to provide support for the family for at least six consecutive months”

      Your wife must wait 3 months after her divorce before remarrying. On page 9 it says:
      No woman shall contract a subsequent marriage unless she has observed an ‘idda of three monthly courses counted from the date of divorce. However, if she is pregnant at the time of divorce, she may remarry only after delivery. (Art. 29.1)”

      If you have a Muslim marriage, the husband is required to pay a dower to the wife (page 6 – 7). It is customary to have a written contract for this, otherwise if things don’t work out then the wife can later sue the husband in Shari’a Court.

      Good luck and I hope things work out for you. Please keep us informed here to help out others in the same situation.

  7. Hi Dave and Kaltehize,

    IMHO, Kaltehize’s explanation is quite misleading. He mentioned that “If your wife obtains american citizenship, and this is granted, then she can use the above option, because now, she will be considered as a foreigner under philippine law.” Kindly note that as the law says “Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. ” As mentioned the marriage should be celebrated “validly” between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. By becoming an American Citizen she has to denounce her Filipino citizenship which will make her a foreigner in Philippine soil, correct, but in order for her to be married in the Philippines under Philippine Laws, she has to regain her Filipino citizenship by acquiring dual-citizenship. This will make her under the jurisdiction of both American and Philippine laws since an ex-Filipino citizen do not need to renounce their acquired citizenship (in this case American) in order for her to become a Filipino citizen again, then they can marry under Philippine law if there are no legal impediments. Which will bring us back again to the problem, because no-TWO FOREIGNERS can validly marry under Philippines Law.

    1. I will not refute jonathan’s comment dave. But i’d like him to give some basis, like a particular case for example, for further elaboration.

  8. hi! am a filipina married to a pakistani muslim. we were divorced for 5years thru sharia court but still our first contract is available thru nso. he came back again in 2012 and got married again last May 2012. my question is, since i was divorced with my first marriage, what would be the exact civil status on my second marriage contract?is it single or divorced?need ur assistance please. and if it is true that divorced should be my civil status on the 2nd mariage contract, how will i correct it then?

    1. Fatima, I read in other blogs of divorced Filipino Muslims: the status of your first marriage would be “severely terminated”. When you get a copy of your CENOMAR, it will appear on the annotation part. Did you submit a copy of your divorce paper in NSO? It is needed so that they will put an annotation to your previous marriage record.

  9. I am a former Catholic and was married to a Catholic woman in 1990. We separated in 2010 but not legally — only a verbal agreement. We don’t have any child. She challenged me before to do a legal remedy so that she can put out my surname from her name but which I have not done for lack of financial resources. We don’t have any physical contact nor any communications since 2010 except for professional consultation related to my I.T. work. We are living in different cities.

    I am now a Muslim and I am about to marry a Muslim woman. Are there any legal complications in proceeding to our marriage? Can I be charged by my Christian wife with bigamy and concubinage (if she wishes to) under the Philippine Law after my marriage in Islam?

    Thanks for any comment and enlightenment.

  10. Hi,I got married to my husband in Muslim Marriage(both muslim) in Philippines. Can I file a divorce? He is verbally abusive,false accusations,and many times he said to me “we will separate”.
    Thank you for any comments…

  11. Hi sir, do u have any idea if a former christian lady who is now a muslim can remarry to a muslim man even if she was not legally separated to her chritian (former) husband?

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