HB 3592: Annulment will become Accessible for Poor

A Party-list lawmaker is asking Congress to pass a measure that would give both rich and poor equal access to annulment proceedings.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares filed House Bill 3592, which seeks to amend Article 36 of the Family Code allowing psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage.

"The bill aims to address the inequality and inaccessibility that has resulted from the remedy granted by the Family Code to be free from a void marriage with a spouse who has committed abusive acts of violence or infidelity or abandoned his or her family," Colmenares said.

Under HB 3952, allegations by petitioner spouse of violence, infidelity or abandonment are presumed to constitute psychological incapacity on the part of the offending spouse unless rebutted by the latter.

Colmenares said the procedure will not only cut cost but also avoid hiring of expensive psychiatrists and psychologists since there is already the presumption of psychological incapacity.
With the proposed amendment, "judges who maintain that a spouse who regularly inflicts violence on their spouse is not psychologically incapacitated are now limited from exercising such discretion," Colmenares said.

According to Colmenares, the existing law has become a long, complicated and expensive process rendering it almost inaccessible to the poor trapped in a void marriage with a psychologically incapacitated spouse.

"The proceedings under Article 36 prove to be discriminatory in favor of the rich who can afford to hire an array of lawyers and psychologists and psychiatrists," Colmenares said. 

Even an appeal under the existing law could take years which also takes a toll on the finances of the petitioner spouse. 

"Article 36 must be amended if it shall be a just and effective remedy for spouses suffering from the misfortune of taking a psychologically incapacitated person for a lifelong partner," Colmenares said. 

HB 3952 has been referred to the House Committee on Revision of Laws for deliberation.