Church-decreed marriage annulment set to be legalised

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Marriage annulment by the Church will be recognised under Philippine law once a bill pending bill is passed by the House of Representatives.

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A bill legalising Church-decreed annulment of marriages has been approved by the House committee on population and family relations.

The panel chaired by Laguna Representative Sol Aragones approved the still bill substituting for House Bills No. 1629 and No. 3705, both of which sought the recognition of the civil effects of the church annulment of marriages.

Also known as the ‘church-decreed annulment bill’, the measure states that whenever a marriage, duly and legally solemnised by a priest, minister, imam, rabbi or presiding elder of any church or religious sect in the Philippines, is subsequently annulled or dissolved in a final judgment or decree, the dissolution “shall have the same effect as a decree of annulment or dissolution issued by a competent court.”

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It also provides that the final judgment of annulment issued by the proper church or religious sect shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry within 30 days from its issuance.

Either spouse may marry again upon compliance with the requirements of the Family Code of the Philippines. Otherwise, the subsequent marriage shall be null and void.

In securing a marriage licence, the spouse involved must present a certified true copy of the final judgment or decree of declaration of nullity, annulment or dissolution of marriage registered with the appropriate civil registry, according to the bill.

Due to the principle of separation of Church and State, there are separate processes in nullifying a marriage in a church and before the civil court.

Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, one of the authors of the bill, said that although marriage was an institution that the state had an interest in, it was also considered a “religious act”.

“For the predominant Catholics of our country, it is a sacrament and marriage is not considered valid insofar as Catholics are concerned unless celebrated in accordance with the solemnities of the Church. Marriage, therefore, is an element in the exercise of religious freedom,” she said.

“So, logically, if the marriage, insofar as the contracting parties are concerned, is validated by the laws of the Church, then it necessarily follows that by the same laws, such marriage can also be invalidated or annulled.”

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