OSG reports 40% hike in annulment cases

Published by rudy Date posted on March 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) informed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of annulment cases over the last 10 years.

CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the CBCP, said the significant hike in the number of annulment cases was noted in a document furnished to them by the OSG.

In 2001, the country had 4,520 cases but in year 2010 it went up to 8,282, showing an average of at least 22 cases filed every day.

A common ground for legal separation or declaration of nullity of marriage is psychological incapacity, said Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz, Assistant Solicitor General Karl Miranda and Attorney Christer James Ray Gudiano.

Psychological incapacity can be found in Article 36 of the Family Code and can be cited as 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 among those who filed for annulment, 61 percent were women, 90 percent of them in their twenties while only four percent filed their petitions in their thirties.

The same study revealed only 39 percent of men initiated the filing of the complaint, with 70 percent of them in their twenties.

It was also found that 25 percent of men in their 30s or 40s filed for annulment.

The number of cases filed was lesser for both genders who are in their 40s or 50s.

Some 35 percent of married couples filed their annulment cases within the first five years of their marriage.

The OSG report also said that among marriages that lasted for five years or more, only 26 percent ended in annulment suits, while among marriages that lasted for more than ten years, only 17 percent opted to have their union annulled.

“The study noted the longer the parties are married, the lesser chances of them seeking annulment of their marriage,” the OSG document said.

The data from the OSG also showed that 82 percent of those who filed these cases have children – 59 percent having at least one or two children, 22 percent having three to four children and one percent with five to six children.

“The children of these marriages are likely to be affected by the separation of their parents,” the same study revealed.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, head of the CBCP National Matrimonial Tribunal (NMT), said the OSG would at times “talk of ‘annulment’ and ‘nullity’ as if said actions on de facto marriages were somehow the same.”

He explained nullity is about ab initio void marriages while annulment is regarding ab initio valid but invalidated marriages.

The 76-year-old prelate added that the OSG is said to intervene before the respective trial and appellate courts to “ensure that the interest of the State in the sanctity of marriage is protected.”

The intervention, however, is not mandatory because the OSG is simply authorized to intervene and is even allowed to signify not only its opposition but also its agreement to a nullity/annulment decision.

He said the OSG is not even mandated to appeal the decision.

“That the fact remains that 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,” Cruz said. –Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star)

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