Marriage and divorce history in the Philippines

like us on:

Like most other things in Filipino culture, marriage in the Philippines has been established long time ago according to the then-modern standards of Spanish Catholic Law.

Marriage and divorce

As in the bible, Mark 10:9, Jesus says, Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. As a result, premarital chastity and lifelong-marriage became an important thing in Filipino culture, and while in many other countries of the world, society has retreated from these values; the Filipino Catholic/Christian society has sustained this statement until today.
You should know this famous Filipino saying: Ang pag-aasawa ay hindi isang biro. Di tulad ng kanin, iluluwa lang kapag napaso.
This means that being married is never a joke; it is a lifelong commitment. Someone who gets married should continue to believe, that his/her relationship is always worth of holding on to. No matter what problems appear, or the circumstances and obstacles are: letting go of one’s marriage should never be an option. A struggling married couple should try all options in trying to maintain and reinvent their bond, because every marriage is worth fighting for.
marriage and divorce
These Filipino and Catholic principles are the most important reasons that divorce is one of the most controversial and sensitive topics, ever been discussed in the Philippines. At this moment, there are no laws allowing divorce in the Philippines because legislation of any law regarding divorce, has greatly been disapproved by the Filipino community and mostly by the church. While the Philippine Congress had been trying to pass divorce bills for the past 15 years, it is not possible to dissolve a marriage via this way.
But, while the Philippine laws do not allow divorce, there are other possibilities. The Family Code of the Philippines allows Annulment and Legal Separation for unworkable marriages.

Differences between Divorce, Annulment, and Legal Separation

  • Divorce is a court order saying that a man and woman are NO LONGER husband and a wife.
  • Legal Separation is a decree, that gives the husband and wife the right to live separately from each other. Through this decree, the conjugal partnership of properties or the absolute community of properties is split between the partners. But, the man and woman are still considered married. They cannot remarry.
  • Annulment is a judicial verdict that THERE NEVER WAS A MARRIAGE between the man and the woman. It is the cancellation of marriage as if it never happened. This cancellation is done by the court, invalidating the marriage from the date of its formation (retroactive application). A few example reasons for annulment are: absence of parental consent, mental illness, fraud, lack of consent, and certain diseases.

Read also number 2 in this series: marriage to a Filipino citizen
Or you might be interested in a post about separation and annulment.

Feel free to give your opinion below.


  • dante commented on 18 July, 2015 Reply

    Great article. After some of my experiences with Pinays I would find it hard to ever trust one to be faithful. I am sure you could find some, but it would be hard to trust.

    • Dutch Expat commented on 23 July, 2015 Reply

      Hi Dante,
      There are many whom you can trust, but it costs time to find the right one. My wife and I are married for over 27 years, and I know many more happily married couples. The problem is that many foreigners are older men, and they want to feel young again. Marriages with large age gaps are most of the time doomed to fail. Most young ladies marrying an old man are just waiting for him to die (and fooling him in the mean time), so she can run away with his money. Sad but true! Find a woman near your age or maybe a few years younger, and most of them are faithful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *