House approves bill recognizing civil effects of church annulment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 31) — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill recognizing church annulments as the same as court annulments.

House Bill 6779 provides that "whenever a marriage, duly and legally solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi or presiding elder of any church or religious sect in the Philippines is subsequently annulled in accordance with the canons or precepts of the church or religious sect, the said annulment shall have the same effect as a decree of annulment issued by a competent court."

Under the Family Code of the Philippines, annulment presumes that a marriage was never valid from the start, thus allowing the spouses to remarry.

The bill also provides that the status of children from a marriage annulled by the church shall be determined by the Family Code.

In case the grounds for the church annulment is not similar to any of the grounds provided in the Family Code, the common children born or conceived before the issuance of the church annulment decree shall be considered legitimate.

Grounds for annulment under the Family Code include:

Either spouse was psychologically incapable of marrying

Consent to marry was obtained through fraud

Consent to marry was forced

Either spouse is physically incapable of consummating the marriage

Either spouse had an undisclosed and incurable sexually transmitted disease

Another provision of the bill states that the liquidation, partition and distribution of the property of the spouses, the custody and support of the children and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes shall be agreed upon by the spouses and embodied in a public document.

In case no agreement is met, the provisions of the Family Code shall be in force.

The bill also mandates that the church annulment shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registries, together with the agreement of the spouses required under the measure, within 30 days from the issuance of the church annulment.

Authors of the measure include Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Nancy Catamco, Emmi de Jesus, Arthur Yap, Arlene Brosas, Carlos Zarate, Antonio Tinio and Ariel Casilao.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.