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Published On: Fri, Aug 26th, 2016

Filipino Activists Fight to Make Divorce Legal

There are just two countries in the world where divorce is illegal: The Vatican and the Philippines. In this deeply devout Catholic country, views on family and marriage are extremely conservative, which has kept the practice of divorce illegal in the country to this day.

But one group is fighting to change that.

The online Facebook group Divorce Advocates of the Philippines is pushing for change, and they’ve taken their fight to the Philippine Congress.

Maviv Millora is the founder of the group, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Millora has been married for more than 20 years, but separated from her husband in 2011. Now, she struggles to support her children on her salary as an English teacher.

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photo by Okan Caliskan via Pixabay

Unable to afford the high legal costs of separation proceedings and claim child support, Millora started a group on Facebook as an outlet to speak to others who may be in similar situations.

“In this woman’s case, it would be impossible to claim child support because she is still technically married. There’s also the complication that divorce is not legal in the first place, which makes child support difficult to obtain as-is,” says M. Sue Wilson, Minnesota family law attorney.

The group has grown to more than 5,000 members and sparked the creation of two other divorce groups: Divorce for the Philippines Now International and Pro-Divorce Philippines.

Some members joined to vent about their frustration. Others wanted legal advice without having to pay the high cost of a lawyer. But one thing was clear: they were all in favor of legalizing divorce.

The Philippines is one of just two countries in the world that has not legalized divorce – the Vatican being the second. If a couple wishes to dissolve their marriage, they may file for separation, which allows them to have separate possessions and residences. But ultimately, the couple is still considered married.

There are exceptions to the law in cases where a foreigner is married to a Filipino or the couple is Muslim, which represents 5% of the country’s population.

The only other option couples have is to be granted an annulment, a process that is financially and emotionally draining. To be granted an annulment, which would have the same effect as a divorce, the couple would need to prove that the marriage was never valid in the first place.

Some accepted reasons include: mistaken identity, fraud, one or both partners being underage, or one partner is psychologically incapacitated and unable to perform their marital duties. Reasons like physical abuse and infidelity are not grounds for an annulment.

For those who are desperate, they may bribe the judge to ensure the decision is in their favor.  

Millora and other members of the group took their fight to the Philippine Congress, marching to bring change.

The timing of the march was no coincidence – a divorce bill was filed that same day by the Gabriela Women’s Party, a grassroots organization fighting for women’s rights.

The filing marks the fifth time a divorce bill had been filed in Congress over the last 11 years. Advocates of legalizing divorce are hoping that this time is different.

Author: Jacob Maslow

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

Displaying 3 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. I want this arrticle corrected and ask the author/writer to be more responsible in reporting.
    I, Maviv Millora, is NOT the founder nor I am NOT claiming to be the founder of the Online facebook group DIVORCE ADVOCATES OF THE PHILIPPINES. I am neither the Chairman nor the PRESIDENT of the said group, either.
    Wrong information will and might have a repurcussion to me, on my life and to my family. The creators and founders of the group have been disrespected by this irresponsible journalism.

  2. bugtaw says:

    Reading your article brings us earned hope and desire to get a better arena of support and fate.That our advocacy to LEGALIZED DIVORCE in the Philippines is gaining a momentum of truth.
    But branding Maviv as a Filipino Activist is somehow a diaheartening issues being tagged at her advocacy to fight in behalf of filipino victims from wrong bondages of marriage.
    For me, being one of the stakeholder of divorce bill branding us our advocacy as “activist” seems to be foul and disrespectful for all victims of domestic violence and abusive relationship.This is adding insults to our injury.
    As a writer you should be responsible of the truth because this will lead to a threshold of name tagging against every stakeholders of this advocacy.

  3. Cora Lim says:

    DAP was created by Cecil Jueco the defunct chairman and Creator of DAP who is second as active Divorce stake holders recognized by Gabriela woman’s party through the introduction of Pro Divorce group having 7,078 members/followers online.
    Maviv Meloria is the recognized secretary general of DAP but she’s never an activist.
    As an active member and concern stake holder to legalize Divorce in the Philippines I am also concern of the partial information you have given to us. That might disheartened the 7 thousand plus followers.
    I want you to supply real information for people to know that there are many of us who support to Legalize DIVORCE in our country and that none of us are activist, in fact we are victims as abused and abandoned spouses of failed marriages and at present time most have already a second family with an illegitimate children who’s only dream is for their children to not be called illegitimate again. Many are OFW working abroad to be able to be able to survive life as a solo parent. The rest of us are also victims as being scammed by their own hired lawyer who only took their money and do nothing about their problem. Lastly there are members who filed annulment and got denied. Imagined yourself being abused and abandoned for so many years, living with children without any support from the other parent then got the chance of a lifetime to file for annulment but been Denied of your very own freedom? It’s time to stop the so called morality and hypocrisy of the people in power and let Divorce be legal to anyone who deserve freedom. Thank you.

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