In the United States most people would be shocked to hear that there are other countries that had laws which make obtaining a divorce illegal. Divorce laws around the world have drastically fluctuated throughout the years with many countries focusing on their religious beliefs to create the laws. Today the only country that holds onto the Catholic belief that divorce is immoral and continues to have a law making divorce illegal is the Philippines. Other prominent Catholic countries did away with banning divorce many years ago, the last being Malta in 2011.
The Philippines have held tightly to the citizens Catholic beliefs and allows for the church to continue fighting to enforce its views on marriage. Pope Francis recently visited the country and urged his bishops to take a more forgiving stance toward divorced Catholics. However, this plea fell on deaf ears due to the country’s laws. The church hierarchy in the country is quiet proud that they are the only country to stick to their beliefs on divorce. One archbishop called it “an honor that every Filipino should be proud of.”
The laws in the Philippines did not always outlaw divorce. Before explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed the country for the Spanish crown and began converting the natives to Catholicism, divorce was commonly practiced by the traditional tribes. But with centuries of Spanish rule came the drastic change in the country’s view on divorce. When the U.S. took control over the country after the Spanish-American War the laws eased up a bit. In 1917 the law only allowed for divorce if adultery was committed by the wife or for “concubinage” on the part of the husband. During World War II, when the Japanese occupied the Philippines, modern divorce laws were in put into place; however, that ended in 1944 when the law was restored to the 1917 standard. Six years later, when the Philippines became independent the law was revoked and divorce was banned outright.
Currently there is a bill before the legislature that would legalize divorce in the Philippines. However, it is not likely to pass without the support of President Benigno Aquino III, who has stated in the past that divorce is a “no-no” for his nation. Aquino has also stated that he does not want the Philippines to become like Las Vegas, where “you get married in the morning and you get divorced in the afternoon.” This is not the first time Aquino has disregarded pleas from the Catholic Church. Three years ago he ignored the church’s threats of excommunication when he signed a reproductive health law that provided subsidized contraceptives to poor women. It will be interesting to see if the new bill will pass.
If you are facing divorce and are in need of representation or have any questions about the process contact our Allegheny County Divorce Attorneys at Vari & Associates. For more information about us or to set up a consultation, contact us today.