Senate bill adds another ground for annulment

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

FIVE years of separation for married couple would be enough reason for an annulment under Senate Bill 2225.

Senator Loren Legarda, the bill's author, said the measure would help both husband and wife expedite the tedious process of annulment.

"Everyone deserves a new life. A new beginning," Legarda said. "The separation period is crucial as the ultimate expression of the couple's desire for an annulment."

The proposed measure also states that if either or both parties are indigent or cannot afford the services of lawyers, "the court shall dispense with the need for lawyers and keep the processes as simple and as expediently as possible to avoid tedious and expensive litigation proceedings."

"In cases where both parties mutually seek the annulment on this ground, the court shall likewise find ways to expedite the proceedings to avoid protracted and expensive trials," SB 2225 read.

Legarda who herself had an annulment with husband former governor of Batangas Antonio Leviste, argued that it is only right to give both husband and wife a chance to live a normal life after separation.

According to surveys, despite its high cost in funds and time, many Filipinos still pursue annulment since it severs a union while allowing remarriage.

The most recent records from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) attest to an increasing number of annulment cases in the Philippines.

Based on data, a total of 10,528 annulment cases were filed with the OSG last 2012, as opposed to the 9,133 filed in 2011. These figures present an opportunity to dispense with the backlog of cases and culture of delay besieging lower courts.

Legarda said the bill addresses such concerns by providing an additional ground for annulment under Title I, Chapter 3 of B.O. No. 209, given that both parties mutually seek the annulment and can furnish documents proving a separation period of at least five years.

"No judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment shall be necessary. The separation period is crucial as the ultimate expression of the couple's desire for an annulment," Legarda stated in her bill.

This amendment, Legarda said, likewise caters to those who cannot afford legal services by making litigation as simple and expedient as possible.

At the same time, the bill seeks to amend Chapter 3 of Executive Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines.

Currently Chapter 3 of the Family Code identifies six valid grounds for annulment: which include: lack of parental consent, insanity, fraud, force, intimidation, or undue influence, impotence and sexually transmissible diseases. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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