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Issues on separation of spouses

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “...Jesus said to them...`What God has put together, let no man separate’...” (Jesus, our God and Savior, in Mark 10:5, 9, the Holy Bible).

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PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY AS GROUND FOR ANNULMENT: Art. 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides a ground to annul the marriage of a husband and a wife. It says that a marriage where, at the time of its celebration, one of the parties was suffering from psychological incapacity to comply the essential marital obligations of a husband and a wife, is a null and void marriage.

Psychological incapacity means a mental, not physical, incapacity that causes either a husband or a wife to be truly knowledgeable, and thus incapable of performing any, of the basic marital covenants. These basic marital covenants are the mutual obligations expected of a husband or a wife.

Under Art. 68 of the Family Code, the husband and the wife are mutually obliged to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity, and render help and support, towards one another. Under decisions of the Supreme Court, it is there emphasized that the incapacity referred to by the Code consists of greatly serious cases of personality disorders which show inability to give meaning to marriage.

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SEPARATION OF SPOUSES DOES NOT ANNUL THEIR MARRIAGE: There is an avalanche of queries coming from our countrymen who are abroad either as overseas Filipino workers or as immigrants, on our item about Filipinos who are in other countries having the capacity to file cases to annul their marriages with their Filipino spouses, most of which center on whether or not separation in fact for at least seven years could automatically mean that the marriage is already dissolved.

The answer is no, which means that, the mere separation of the spouses even for a period longer than seven years does not give rise to an automatic annulment. The interested spouse, whether living abroad or still in the Philippines, must file with the Regional Trial Courts here a petition for annulment of marriage, which must be favorable granted by the courts.

Right now, there are several grounds to annul a marriage in the Philippines, but the most popular and most oft-resorted to among many couples is Art. 36 of the Family Code, which says that when a spouse could no longer discharge his or her marital obligations, he or she can be sued for annulment by the other spouse. In our succeeding columns, we will deal with this ground more lengthily, God willing.

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ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGES IN RP: It was only in 1988 that the marrying age for Filipinos, men and women alike, was raised to 18 years old, through the sole enactment of the Family Code by then President Corazon Aquino, using her legislative powers after the EDSA Revolution of 1986. Now, tell me, which historical period in our country’s history showed more broken or separated Filipino families---before 1988 or after 1988?

The answer is clear: more families broke up after 1988, or after the Family Code took into effect, simply because that Code allowed annulment of marriages based on a ground which was non-existent in our old Civil Code. This ground, called “psychological incapacity” of the husband or the wife to discharge his or her marital obligations, caused more break-ups of families compared to any other period in Philippine history.

Prior to 1988, any husband or wife could annul his or her marriage based only on certain well-defined grounds affecting the ages of, and consent to the marriage given by, the parties. After Cory Aquino’s Family Code went into effect in 1988, however, anyone who can claim that his or her spouse is not doing his or her role as such spouse can already seek the break-up of his or her marriage through an annulment.

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WATCH ANG TANGING DAAN” AT FACEBOOK:  “Ang Tanging Daan” is a Bible exposition and prayer session for everyone, in English and Filipino, 24/7, worldwide, that can be viewed at  www.facebook.com/angtangingdaan. Please see the video section.  Reactions: 0917 984 24 68, 0918 574 0193, 0977 805 9058. Email: batasmauricio@yahoo.com (By Atty. Batas Mauricio) -30-




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