MANILA, March 23, 2011?The number of annulment of marriages in the Philippines rose by more than 40% over the past ten years, according to the Office of the Solicitor General. From 2001, the country had 4,520 cases and 8,282 in 2010. This brings a daily average of at least 22 cases filed every day.
Common grounds for legal separation or declaration of nullity is psychological incapacity, according to a document sent to CBCPNews, signed by Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, the Assistant Solicitor General Karl B. Miranda and one Attorney Christer James Ray A. Gudiano,
Psychological incapacity can be found in Article 36 of the Family Code and can be cited as a ground for legal separation or nullity of marriage.
Other grounds include lack of authority of the solemnizing officer, bigamous or polygamous marriages and marriages where one or both parties were below the marrying age allowed by law.
It was learned that those who filed for annulment, 61% of the petitioners were women with 90% have filed cases in their twenties, while only 4% filed in their thirties.
The same study revealed only 39% of men initiated the filing of the complaint with 70% of them in their twenties. It was also found that 25% of men in their 30â€™s or 40â€™s filed for annulment. The number of cases filed was lesser for both genders who are in their 40â€™s or 50â€™s.
Some 35% of married couples filed their annulment case within the first five years of their marriage. The OSG report said marriages that lasted for five years or more, only 26% ended in an annulment suit while marriages that lasted for more than ten years, only 17% opted to have their union annulled.
â€œThe study noted the longer the parties are married, the lesser chances of them seeking annulment of their marriage,â€ the OSG document surmised.
Acknowledging the sad part in the surge of annulment cases, as usual, is that more and more children are affected. The data from the OSG showed 82% of those who filed these cases have children and out of this 82% who filed these cases, 59% have at least one or two children, 22% have three to four children and 1% has five to six children.
â€œThe children of these marriages are likely to be affected by the separation of their parents,â€ the same study revealed.
Annulment and nullity, not the same
Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, head of the CBCP National Matrimonial Tribunal said, the Office of the Solicitor General at times â€œtalked of â€˜annulmentâ€™ and â€˜nullityâ€™ as if said actions on de facto marriages were somehow the same.â€
He explained nullity is about ab initio void marriages while annulment is regarding ab initio valid but invalidated marriages.
The 76-year old prelate noted that OSG is said to intervene before the respective trial and appellate courts to â€œensure that the interest of the State in the sanctity of marriage is protectedâ€ but the intervention is however not mandatory because the OSG is simply â€œauthorized to interveneâ€ and is even allowed to signify not only is â€œoppositionâ€ but also its â€œagreementâ€ to a nullity/annulment decision.
He sadly noted the OSG is not even mandated to appeal the decision.
â€œThat the fact remains that as a matter of fact, nullity/annulment decisions are not contested by the Office of the Solicitor General while collusion therein by the partes in causa is practically the norm,â€ Cruz explained.
He added when the OSG was before mandated to interview, said marriage cases did not prosper when contested before the Supreme Court specifically under the nullity ground of â€œpsychological incapacityâ€ because the said Court observed Church jurisprudence in its decisions in marriage cases.
The senior prelate called on well-meaning individuals to â€œcheck how much money goes into the hands of public officials concerned in the nullity/annulment of marriages, for affirmative reasons.â€ (Melo M. Acuna)