Reintroduction of Divorce into Philippine Law

Congratulations to Jihan  Jacob, LL.M., a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, who submitted her thesis for a Master of Laws degree in August 2013.  We thank her for providing the following abstract.  We also wish her all the best in her new position as Legal Fellow for Asia with the Center for Reproductive Rights.  She can be reached at jihan.jacob\at/


by Jihan A. Jacob, Master of Laws, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto


The Philippines and Vatican City are the only states left in the world without divorce. During pre-colonial times and the Japanese occupation of the country, absolute divorce was legal and widely practiced. At present, while the Philippines recognizes relative divorce, or legal separation as termed under its Family Code, it has not sanctioned absolute divorce in the country except for Muslims and foreigners.

The thesis argues for the reintroduction of absolute divorce into Philippine law on a legal, pragmatic, and rights-based approach. It argues that divorce protects and strengthens the family; it is legal, constitutional, and in compliance with the international human rights obligations of the Philippines; it answers the issues on and inadequacies of the existing legal framework on nullity, annulment, and legal separation; it is one of the solutions to decrease, if not end, spousal violence; and its absence is discriminatory on the grounds of social class, religion, and nationality.

The Philippines may still have a long way to go before divorce is finally restored in its laws; however, bringing back divorce in the country is undoubtedly called for, certain, and inevitable.

Abstracts of other graduate theses in our field are online here.

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