Divorce or Annulment – which is which?

Since Malta voted yes to divorce and left the Philippines as the only country with no divorce law, this brought chaos between the STATE and the CHURCH as the church is against divorce and calls it anti-Filipino. The church is against divorce but permits annulment of marriage.

Legal terminologies are so high falloting and my limited understanding can’t seem to grasp everything. Let’s boil down the terms divorce and annulment in layman’s term and see the difference between the two.

What is annulment?

Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. An annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place. In effect, it nullifies the marriage, returning the parties to their prior single status.

Generally, for a marriage to be considered null and void, one the following grounds must be met.

1)  A marriage was entered into fraudulently e.g. criminal history, sexually transmitted disease, concealment of impotence, etc.

2)  One party was still legally married when the marriage occurred.

3)  One of the spouse entered into marriage under threat, force or intimidation.

4)  Close blood relationships between parties.

5)  Lack of parental consent or under age.

6)  One of the spouse’s didn’t have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage contract. (e.g. due to drunkenness or mental disability) – most used ground in annulemnt

What is divorce?

Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties.  In most countries divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt. This allows each former partner to marry another.

IN this case, a divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but it does cancel the married status of the parties.  To further our understanding between annulment and divorce, let me give you examples of each.

A friend of mine in the Philippines filed an annulment of marriage. She got married at early age. Since then, she has been a battered wife, emotionally and physically. After 7 years of marriage, she then finally decided to end the abuse she received from her husband and filed an annulment of marriage. So many steps had been taken before filing for annulment. She has to go to a psychologist to prove all the physical and emotional abuses she received from her husband so she can file the annulment under the grounds of psychological incapacity. To make the annulment worse, the husband contested and so the battle between the then couple started.  Child custody, child support, visitation rights, etc. It has been 3 years now but no decree of annulment has been granted.  The painful waiting and the legal battle is still ongoing.

Another Filipino friend of mine living in the US filed for divorce. They were  married in the Philippines.  Both parties agreed and filed the divorce amicably. Three months after the filing, the divorce decree has been granted.

Another Filipino friend of mine filed a divorce in the US. Her then husband contested and did not sign the divorce papers. It took her seven months before she has been granted of the divorce. If one party does not sign the papers, it is the discretion of the Judge to decide on the divorce.

Isn’t it that annulment is too complicated than divorce? Isn’t it that in annulment, one will have to endure the  emotional stress.  The stress of having to prove that you or the other party is mentally incapacitated.  More often than not, annulment take years to be finally granted meaning, one must have to endure the cost of annulment to continue with the legal battle. 

Filipinos are not all catholics. There are other denominations that allows divorce.  Why does the catholic church dictates what is good or not for the people? If a battered wife or husband  (yes, husband as there are quite a number of them too) has gone insane because of an abusive relationship, is there anything that the church can do to help the person emotionally and financially? generally, NONE. All of these just so because the church is not in favor of divorce. 

Going public about the dirt of your marriage is not easy. One has to endure criticisms from people who even don’t have a bit of  idea of the root of the problem but are just good in judging and criticizing. They can’t even clean their own backyards but yet are good in throwing insults and judgement to others. Being judged of things you did not even do is more emotionally draining.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Catholic and I believe and fear God. I am pro RH bill, why? Because our country is already over populated and government has to do something with the population growth. I am pro-life and denounces abortion. I am pro divorce as this can help a person end an abusive marriage from a brutal partner and not prolonging the agony unlike annulment.

Gone are the days of the martyrs and the Maria Claras. If one wants to be forever binded with an abusive relationship, then by all means, go ahead and make another Luneta and have have your statue stand in honor of you. You may agree or disagree with my opinion.  But this is my opinion and I am free to say what I want to say.

God gave us the freewill to do what we want to do.  We are intellectual beings. We should know what is right from wrong. We have all the chance in the world to correct our mistakes. And the second chance to be happy in our life, with or without a partner. 

If you have not experienced this marital abuse, good for you, you are blessed. If you are one of those who are or had been into an abusive relationship, I am with you. I know the feeling. I have been there, once.

No one has the right to judge me. And no one can judge me except MY GOD.


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