Lobbying for the right to divorce, with little hope of success

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2011 | Uncategorized

Illinois tests the waters of same-sex civil unions, and other state legislatures grapple with the issue of gay marriage. And there are women in the world who are still lobbying for the right to divorce.

The citizens of Malta voted to legalize divorce last month, and in doing so they cut by a third the number of countries that still will not recognize the legal dissolution of a marriage. There are two hold-outs — the Philippines and Vatican City — and a handful of legislators are trying to pare the number down to one.

After the decision in Malta, members of the Philippines House of Representatives brought up a bill that many thought was dead. The bill would legalize divorce in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

That is, the bill would re-legalize divorce. When the country was occupied by first the United States and then Japan, divorce was allowed. Once the country adopted its own civil code, in 1949, the right to divorce was eliminated.

It is a right, according to one of the bill’s authors. Without the legitimate option of divorce, many women are trapped in “unhappy, even violent” marriages, she says. Because, under current law, the remedies available are less than adequate.

The three options now available are as follows:

  • Legal separation. The couple severs ties but neither can remarry.
  • Annulment. Psychiatrists must judge one party too psychologically incapacitated to sustain the marriage. Critics say annulment is the most costly and most difficult option.
  • Declaration of nullity of marriage. A court must find the marriage invalid from the outset for reasons of, for example, fraud.

Continued in our next post.

Source: New York Times, “Philippines Stands All but Alone in Banning Divorce,” Carlos H. Conde, 06/17/2011


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