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It’s just a term to justify your petition,” my lawyer assured me, echoing the two other lawyers I had consulted before her.(I wanted a second opinion.) They all gave me some variation on: “It’s just the Philippine version of ‘irreconcilable differences.’”But making such a claim is not an innocuous formality.Following liberation, however, divorce was once again outlawed—except among the Muslim minority—under the Philippine Civil Code of 1949.If marriage is essentially a contract, the difference between an annulment and a divorce is the difference between declaring the contract null—because, say, it was signed under conditions of duress or fraud—and terminating it.Perez filed for an annulment in 2000, and was denied. In 2006, the Philippine Supreme Court declined to hear her case, declaring: We find [the husband’s] alleged mixed personality disorder, the ‘leaving-the-house’ attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.Statistics from the Philippines’ Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) show that there were more than 10,000 petitions filed to end marriages in 2013, out of a population of roughly 100 million, with women filing slightly more than half of the petitions.If I got into a new relationship, I risked being charged with adultery and jailed.I was 28 when I left my husband, 29 when I finally decided—against my family’s wishes and without their support—to file for annulment. And on the phone that day, I felt like the oldest 33-year-old in the world.* * *Under Philippine law, two people wishing to end their marriage have limited options.
But the relevant law declared that “so great is the tie and force of marriage, that when legally contracted, it cannot be dissolved even if one of the parties should turn heretic, or Jew, or Moor, or even commit adultery.” After the Spanish era, divorce laws depended on the colonizer.She declined to give details about how she finally obtained the annulment.Last year, she married her longtime boyfriend, with whom she has two children.* * *Like Perez, I filed for annulment claiming my spouse was psychologically incapacitated. Two people can voluntarily choose to love, honor, and remain faithful to each other, but in the Philippines it is pretty much only through death, or the torturously long process of annulment, that they can part. ”I had finally gotten out of my long-dead marriage in the devoutly Catholic Philippines, the only country in the world (other than Vatican City) where divorce is not legal.