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Divorce and separation in the Philippines: Trends and correlates


Abstract and Figures

BACKGROUND The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is not legal. Despite the lack of divorce law in the country and the high costs of obtaining an annulment, recent data shows that a growing number of Filipinos dissolve their marital unions, either legally or informally. OBJECTIVES I document the rise of union dissolution cases in the Philippines, and investigate the different factors associated with Filipino women's experience of union dissolution. METHODS Data is drawn from the two most recent rounds of the Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted in 2008 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models are used in the analysis. RESULTS Results reveal that education, type of first union, and childhood place of residence are significantly associated with being divorced or separated among women in the Philippines. Filipino women with higher levels of education, those who were cohabiting without ever marrying in their first union, and those who were raised in urban settings have higher risks of experiencing union dissolution than their counterparts. Religion and ethnicity are also associated with union breakdown among Filipino women. CONTRIBUTION This paper demonstrates that the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines has not happened in isolation. It has to some extent been influenced by the changing character of union formation in the country, the prevailing legal system, a growing acceptance of divorce, increasing education for women, and increasing urbanization.
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VOLUME 36, ARTICLE 50, PAGES 1515,1548
DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.50
Research Article
Divorce and separation in the Philippines:
Trends and correlates
Jeofrey B. Abalos
This pu blication is part of the Specia l Col lectio n on “Separation , Divorce,
Repart nering, and R emarriage around the W orld,” organized by Guest Editors
Benoît Laplante and Andrew Cherlin.
© 2017 Jeofrey B. Abalos.
This open-access work is published under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution NonCommercial License 2.0 Germany, which permits use,
reproduction & distribution in any medium for non-commercial purposes,
provided the original author(s) and source are given credit.
See http://
1Introdu ction 1516
2Background literature 1517
2.1 Education 1518
2.2 Age at marriage 1518
2.3 Type of union 1519
2.4 Childhood place of residence 1519
2.5 Other factors 1519
3Union formation in the Philippines 1520
4Marital dissoluti on in the Philippines 1523
4.1 Historical and legal context 1523
4.2 Trends in unio n dissoluti on in th e Philippines 1525
4.3 Trends in attitudes towards divorce in the Philippines 1527
5Data and methods 1529
5.1 Depen dent variable 1530
5.2 Explanatory variables 1530
6Results 1532
6.1 Descriptive analysis 1532
6.2 Multivariat e analysis 1534
7Summar y and di scussion 1536
8 Acknowledgments 1539
References 1540
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50
Research Article 1515
Divorce and separation in the Philippines: Trends and correlates
Jeofrey B. Abalos1
The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce
is not legal. Despite the lack of divorce law in the country and the high costs of
obtaining an annulment, recent data shows that a growing number of Filipinos dissolve
their marital unions, either legally or informally.
I document the rise of union dissolution cases in the Philippines, and investigate the
different factors associated with Filipino women’s experience of union dissolution.
Data is drawn from the two most recent rounds of the Philippine National Demographic
and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted in 2008 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and
logistic regression models are used in the analysis.
Results reveal that education, type of first union, and childhood place of residence are
significantly associated with being divorced or separated among women in the
Philippines. Filipino women with higher levels of education, those who were cohabiting
without ever marrying in their first union, and those who wer e raised in urban settings
have higher risks of experiencing union dissolution than their counterparts. Religion
and ethnicity are also associated with union breakdown among Filipino women.
This paper demonstrates that the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines has not
happened in isolation. It has to some extent been influenced by the changing character
of union formation in the country, the prevailing legal system, a growing acceptance of
divorce, incr easin g education for women, and increasing urbanization.
1 Australian National University. E-Mail:
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
1. Introduction
The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican City, where
divorce is not legal (Emery 2013). Although annulment and declaration of nullity of
marriage are available to terminate some marriages in the country, they have many
shortcomings, one of which is their high economic cost (Taylor 1983; Constable 2003;
Lopez 2006; Lauser 2008; Calonzo and Cayabyab 2013; Daytec-Yañgot 2015). Aside
from the legal and economic barriers to dissolving marriage in the Philippines, there is
also a strong stigma attached to having had a union dissolved (Chant 1997a; Raposas
2008), particularly for women, who are expected to keep the marriage together (Aguilar
1987 cited in Constable 2003). Despite this confluence of factors that impede the
majority of Filipinos from terminating unsatisfactory marriages, evidence still points to
a growing number of Filipinos who have had their marriage dissolved or sought to have
their marriage dissolved (Abalos 2011; Emery 2013). Concomitant with the rise in
marital dissolution cases in the Philippines have been a host of demographic and
socioeconomic ch anges that have swept the coun try in recent decades. Important
demographic changes include the growing phenomen on of cohabitation, the declining
proportions of male and female Filipinos who are legally married, and a slight increase
in age at marriage (Kabamalan 2004; Abalos 2014a). In addition, educational
attainment – already for several decades among the highest in Southeast Asia – has
continued to improve, accompanied by a steady increase in female labour force
participation. Urbanization has also accelerated in recent years.
Previous studies in both developed and developing countries have linked these
demographic and socioeconomic changes to rises or declines in divorce rates. This
paper aims to document the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines and investigate
the demographic and socioeconomic factors associated with Filipino women’s
experience of union breakdown. While there have been previous studies on marital
dissolution in the Philippines, most of these have focused on its causes (Bautista and
Roldan 1995), its effects on fertility (De Guzman 1984), its impact on the well-being of
women (Gultiano et al. 2009), or the couple’s living arrangements after the marriage
breakdown (Abalos 2011). Examining the factors associated with divorce and
separation in the Ph ilippin es will improve our understanding of the nature of union
dissolution in the country, and of the way it has been influenced by socioeconomic and
ideational changes. As will be discussed later, there are two types of union in the
Philippines: formal or legal marriage and consensual union. Previous research usually
combines ‘currently married’ and ‘living with a man as married’ (Zablan and Yabut
2006; Abalos 2014a). Following this practice, I refer to women in either formal
marriages or consensual unions as ‘married’ or ‘in union.’ Similarly, when these unions
end, it is considered a divorce or separation. The terms ‘divorced’ and ‘separated,’
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1517
therefore, include women who are formally divorced, women who are separated but
have not gone through the legal proceedings to terminate their marriage, and women
who are separated from their cohabiting partner.
2. Background literature
Divorce rates in most countries have changed in recent decades, although the pace and
direction of change has differed across regions of the world (Cherlin 1992; Heaton,
Cammack, and Young 2001). Rises in divorce rates have been recorded in most
Western and some East Asian countries, while at the same time declines have been
observed in some Islamic Southeast Asian countries until recently (Goode 1993;
Dommaraju and Jones 2011; Cammack and Heaton 2011). Ideological and structural
changes associated with modernization and economic development figure prominently
as explanations advanced for increases in marital disruption, although the causality and
contributions of individual factors are still not clear (Heaton, Cammack, and Young
2001). Curiously, the same factors associated with modernization (e.g., increasing
female labour force participation and ideational change) that ushered in the rise in
divorce rates in Western countries also contributed to the falling divorce trends in
Southeast Asian Islamic countries, although the mechanisms involved were different
(Jones 1997). For instance, increasing female participation in the labour force
encouraged divorce among women in the West by enablin g them to become financially
independent, increasin g marital friction over househ old management arrangements, and
exposing women to alternative potential partners in the work environment (Jones 1997).
These effects are also evident in Islamic Southeast Asian countries, but they have been
outweighed by other divorce-reducing effects, such as links with rising educational
levels and self-arranged marriage, which eventually led to greater commitment to
chosen partners (Jones 1997).
The factors associated with modernization and economic development that are
usually invoked to explain changes in divorce trends in both developed and developing
countries are varied, but those that consistently emerge include increasing employment
and educational opportunities for women, and increasing age at marriage (Guest 1992;
Carmichael, Webster, and McDonald 1997; Jones 1997; Heaton, Cammack, and Young
2001; Hirschman and Teerawichitchainan 2003; Teerawichitchainan 2004). These
factors have also been found to be significant correlates of marital dissolution in most
countries, along with factors such as type of union, urban-rural r esidence during
childhood, ethnicity, and religion.
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
2.1 Education
The influence of education on divorce can be negative or positive, depending on the
cost of marital dissolution. It is expected that level of education will be positively
associated with divorce in settings where marital dissolution is uncommon and its legal,
social, and economic costs are high (Park and Raymo 2013). Goode (1993) argues that
this positive association weakens when the prevalence of divorce increases and the
practice becomes commonly accepted. Eventually this positive association may become
negative once the legal, social, and economic costs of terminating a marriage are
reduced, as financial problems concentrated among the poorer segment of a society
become the primary reason for marital dissolution (Goode 1963). Evidence supporting
these relationships has been documented in different countries. For instance, a positive
educational gr adient has been found in Italy and Spain, where divorce is still not
prevalent and its social and economic costs are high (Härkönen and Dronkers 2006). By
contrast, a negative gradient has been foun d in the Netherlands and the United States,
where the incidences of divorce are high and the associated costs relatively low (Raley
and Bumpass 2003; De Graaf and Kalmijn 2006). The same negative relationship is
also observed in some Southeast Asian Islamic countries, where the incidences of
divorce have been historically high and the social cost of divorcing has been low (Jones
1997; Hirschman and Teerawichitchainan 2003). There are countries, however, that
deviate from these expected relationships between education and divorce rates. For
example, in Japan an d Korea, where the social and economic costs of divorce are still
high, negative educational gradients have been observed (Raymo, Iwasawa, and
Bumpass 2004; Ono 2009; Raymo, Fukuda, and Iwasawa 2012; Park and Raymo 2013).
This unexpected relationship remains unexplained, but Park and Raymo (2013)
speculate that factors like the rapid increase in educational attainment in Korea and
educational differences in the pace and magnitude of changes in attitudes toward
marriage (and divorce) or in gender division of labour within marriage might help
elucidate this relationship. Similar results have been found in India, where education
has been shown to promote marital stability (Dommaraju 2016). Dommaraju (2016:
216) attributes this to the role of education in providing women with “greater say in
marriage, greater bargaining power, and greater gender equity all of which could
contribute to stronger marital bonds.”
2.2 Age at marriage
One of the enduring findings in studies of the determinants of divorce is the significant
role of age at marriage (Carmichael 1988; Alam, Saha, and van Ginneken 2000;
Heaton, Cammack, and Young 2001; Hirschman and Teerawichitchainan 2003;
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1519
Teerawichitchainan 2004; Jennings 2016). Individuals who marry at a young age are
more likely to divorce because they are less mature and less knowledgeable, are still
caught up in the rapid changes that they go through in their adolescent years, and spend
less time searching for compatible partners (Booth and Edwards 1985; South and Spitze
1986; Thornton and Rogers 1987).
2.3 Type of union
The type of union has also been shown to be associated with the risk of dissolution,
with individuals in consen sual unions havin g higher rates of dissolution than th ose in
formal marriages (Andersson 2002; Heuveline, Timberlake, and Furstenberg 2003;
Jensen and Clausen 2003). One explanation for the difference in the dissolution rates
between married and cohabiting couples is the selection hypothesis, which holds that
cohabitation is selective of individuals who possess distinctive characteristics less
frequently foun d among th ose wh o do not coh abit prior to marriage, and these
differences make them more vulnerable to divorce (Hall and Zhao 1995; Liefbroer and
Dourleijn 2006). For example, compar ed with n oncohabitors, coh abitors are likely to be
more open to unorthodox family ideologies (Booth and Johnson 1988; Stets and Straus
1989; Thomson and Colella 1992; Axinn and Thornton 1992) and are more likely to
have socioeconomic and personality characteristics that are associated with higher
likelihoods of union dissolution (Hall and Zhao 1995; Berrington and Diamond 1999).
2.4 Childhood place of residence
The environments where women grew up have also been shown to influence their
experience of marital dissolution. Women reared in urban settings tend to have higher
union dissolution rates than women who grew up in rural areas (Balakrishnan et al.
1987; Lillard, Brien, and Waite 1995; Liefbroer and Dourleijn 2006).
People’s exposur e to unconventional behaviour and attitudes, which are usually
associated with urban life, is often thought to be responsible for the higher likelihood of
marital dissolution among urban dwellers (Fischer 1995).
2.5 Other factors
Some of the other factors that have been found to be associated with marital dissolution
and will be examined in this study are religion, ethnicity, and birth cohort (Lehrer and
Chiswick 1993; Wu and Balakrishnan 1995; Hirschman and Teerawichitchainan 2003;
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
Hewitt, Baxter, and Western 2006; Dommaraju 2016). In general, Catholics have been
shown to have lower divorce rates than people from oth er religious groups, pr obabl y
because the Catholic Ch urch discourages divorce, thereby increasing th e costs of ending
an unsatisfactory marriage (Wu and Balakrishnan 1995). Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia,
differentials across sociocultural, ethnic, and religious groups still persist, with the
Muslim populations of Indonesia (Sundanese, Javanese, and Madurese), Malaysia
(Malay), and Thailand registering very high divorce rates, the Thai Buddhist population
having a moderate level of divorce, and the Balinese, Malaysian Chinese and Indians,
and Thai Chinese all having very low divorce rates (Hirschman and Teerawichitchainan
2003). Finally, earlier studies found that people in older cohorts were less likely to have
experienced marital breakdown than more recent birth cohorts (Hewitt, Baxter, and
Western 2006).
Other determinants of marital dissolution that have been examined in previous
studies (but will not be investigated here due to data limitations) include female
employment, age differences between spouses, presence of children, marital duration,
and previous history of marital breakdown (Alam, Saha, and van Ginneken 2000;
Bhuiya et al. 2005; Dommaraju 2016; Jennings 2016).
The rest of the paper is divided into three sections. The first section provides a
brief overview of union formation in the Philippines and describes some of the salient
changes in marriage patterns that are likely to have impacted on union breakdown
among Filipinos. The second section examines the state of marital dissolution in the
Philippines by describing the historical and legal contexts of divorce legislation in the
country, the trends in marriage breakdown, and prevailing attitudes to divorce among
Filipinos. The final section presents a multivariate analysis of the demographic and
socioeconomic factors associated with Filipino women’s experience of union
3. Union formation in the Philippines
Marriage as an institution is strongly revered in the Philippines (Gultiano et al. 2009).It
usually takes the form of either legal marriage (through a church or civil wedding) or
living with a partner, but the majority of marriages in the Philippines are legal (Xenos
1997; Gultiano et al. 2009). Most marriages in the country are celebrated in a church,
since this is the most socially acceptable type of union (Vancio 1980), although civil
marriages and living with a partner have also become common. Couples who are in
consensual unions or are cohabiting view the union as permanent, but without the
ceremony of a formal marriage (Xenos and Kabamalan 2007). This type of union is also
more common among those of lower socioeconomic status (Williams, Kabamalam, and
Ogena 2006; Vancio 1980). Marriage in the country not only unites two individuals: it
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1521
unites th eir respective families as well (Medina 2015). Given that marriages between
Filipinos are family alliances, parents seek to influence their children’s choices of
potential partners in order to ensure stability of marriage or upward family mobility
(Xenos and Kabamalan 2007). This family influence, however, is not particularly strong
among the less affluent strata of society where the Catholic Church has weaker
influence (Xenos and Kabamalan 2007). Although parents still influence the mate-
selection processes of their children, this influence has somewhat weakened over time.
Scholars report that in the past children’s marriages were contracted before they were
even born (Jocano 1975), but more recently most Filipinos have chosen their own
marriage partners (Quisumbing 1963; Vancio 1980; Cheung et al. 1985). This loosening
of the contr ol of kin over th e young has also been identified as one of the factors
underpinning the growing fragility of Filipino marriage, especially in urban areas
(Medina 2001). Moreover, since mate selection has become mostly an individual
decision, Filipinos are less constrained by their parents’ influence and able to spend
more time finding potential marriage partners.
Given these changes in mate selection in the country, it is not surprising that age at
marriage in the Philippines is relatively high, and has been incr easing over time (Ogena,
Kabamalan, and Sasota 2008; Abalos 2014a). Table 1 reveals that in the last six decades
the average age at marriage in the country increased from 22.2 years to 24.4 years
among women and from 24.9 year s to 27.0 years among men. This increasing marriage
postponement among Filipinos is associated with their need to pursue advance
education in order to boost their chances of upward social and economic mobility
(Rodell 2002; Abalos 2014a). Although the overall proportion of Filipinos aged 10
years and over who are never married is declining, there are certain age groups where
the proportion never married is increasing – for example, ages 2029. Permanent
celibacy, as indexed by the proportion never married at ages 4049, is also increasing,
particularly among men (Williams and Arguillas 2012). These trends have been
accompanied by an increasing prevalence of cohabitation in the country and declining
proportions legally married (Kabamalan 2004; Xenos and Kabamalan 2007; Abalos
2014a). As can be seen in Table 1, the proportion of Filipino women legally married
declined from 48.9% in 1990 to 45.7% in 2010, while over the same period the
proportion in consensual unions increased from 0.2% to 5.5%. Economic reasons tend
to partly explain the increasing proportion of Filipinos who coh abit, but the absence of
divorce in the country may also have contributed to this trend. The gr owin g popularity
of cohabitation may well be recent, but the pr actice itself has long been documented in
the past. The earliest estimates of cohabitation in the Philippines were recorded in the
1903 Philippine census, when 1.6% of men (115,129) and 1.7% of women (118,541)
were recorded as consensually married. Although cohabitation has long existed in the
Philippines there remains a strong norm against it and it is not yet considered fully
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
acceptable (Kabamalan 2004; Williams and Guest 2005; Williams, Kabamalan, and
Ogena 2006). More recent data, h owever, suggests that there is a growing acceptance of
this type of union (Abalos 2014b). This changing character of union formation in the
Philippines is accompanied by the changing character of union dissolution. As will be
demonstrated in the succeeding sections, the number and proportion of Filipinos who
are divorced and separated have been increasing in recent decades. This increasing
prevalence of union dissolution has also been accompanied by growing approval of
legalization of divorce in the country, despite the very high economic and social costs
associated with it. Concomitant with these changes in union formation and dissolution
have been significant demographic and socioeconomic changes, including expanding
education and employment opportunities for women and increasing urbanization, which
are th ought to influence the character of both union formation and union dissolution.
Table 1: Trends in age at marriage and marital status distribution in the
Year Mean age at
first marriage
Marital status (%)
together Widowed
Divorced or
separated Unknown
1960 22.2 43.7 49.3
6.4 0.6 0.0
1970 22.8 46.3 47.2 5.8 0.6 0.2
1980 22.4 42.8 50.6 5.8 0.7 0.1
1990 23.8 44.1 49.0 48.9 0.2 5.9 0.8 0.1
2000 23.9 41.4 50.0 45.8 4.2 6.2 1.2 1.1
2010 24.4 40.4 51.3 45.7 5.5 6.7 1.6 0.1
1960 24.9 48.0 49.0
2.7 0.3 0.0
1970 25.4 50.4 47.0 2.1 0.3 0.2
1980 24.8 46.8 50.7 2.1 0.4 0.1
1990 26.3 49.1 48.6 48.5 0.1 1.8 0.4 0.1
2000 26.5 46.4 49.8 45.5 4.3 2.0 0.7 1.1
2010 27.0 46.8 50.2 44.9 5.3 1.9 0.9 0.1
Source: 19602010 Philippine Censuses.
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1523
4. Marital dissolution in the Philippines
4.1 Historical and legal context
Aside from the Vatican City, the Philippines is the only country in the world where
divorce is not legal (Emery 2013), although the practice has a long history in the
Philippines setting (Fisher 1926; Fernandez 1976). Indeed, the prevalence of divorce
among Filipinos was pointed to as one of the obstacles to Spanish efforts to introduce
the Catholic sacrament of matrimony to the Philippines (Phelan 1959). During the
precolonial period, divorce was practiced by some ancestral tribes in the Philippines –
particularly among the Tagbanwans of Palawan, the Gadangs of Nueva Viscaya, the
Sagadans and Igorots of the Cordilleras, and the Manobos, B’laans, and Moslems of the
Visayas and Mindanao islands (House of Representatives, Republic of the Philippines
2010). During this period, economic sanctions were imposed on the spouse who caused
the separation, or, in the absence of a clear cause, on the spouse who initiated th e
divorce or separation (Fernandez 1976). For example, when a husband separated from
his wife because she had had an adulterous relationship, the wife was required to pay a
fine, in addition to returning the dowry. However, the dowry was not returned in cases
where the wife left her husband due to the latter’s fault (Fernandez 1976).
During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines and following the introduction
of Christianity, divorce was prohibited and only legal separation was allowed (Fisher
1926). Divorce was again permitted during the American period (18981943, 1945
1946) through Act No. 2710, but the grounds were limited to adultery by the wife and
concubinage on the part of the husband (Reyes 1953; Feliciano 1994). These grounds
were briefly expanded during the Japanese occupation (19411945) with the
promulgation of a new divorce law, Executive Order No.141, but this was repealed
when the Commonwealth Government under the Americans was established in 1944,
and Act No. 2710 was reinstated (Reyes 1953; Juco 1966; Bernardo 1998; Daytec-
Yangot 2015). Six years later, Act No. 2710 was itself repealed with the introduction of
the Civil Code of the Philippines on 30 August 1950 (Nolledo 1997). Under the Civil
Code only legal separation was allowed. The Family Code of the Philippines (Executive
Order No. 209) took effect on 3 August 1988, and it replaced the Civil Code’s
provisions on marriage and the family (Fenix-Villavicencio and David 2000). Under the
Family Code, divorce is not allowed in the Philippines, except for Filipinos who are
married to foreigners and seek divorce in another country and Filipino Muslims who are
governed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (Lopez 2006). The
Family Code, however, provides three measures that allow spouses to seek relief from a
marriage: a) legal separation, b) annulment of marriage, and c) declaration of nullity of
marriage (Gloria 2007). Legal separation allows the couple to live separately but
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
restrains them from remarrying because the prior marriage still legally exists (Fenix-
Villavicencio and David 2000; Constable 2003; Emery 2013). Some of the grounds for
legal separation include repeated physical violence or grossly abusive misconduct, drug
addiction or habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality, and sexual infidelity or
perversion (Nolledo 1987). A declaration of nullity of marriage presupposes that the
marriage was not only defective but also null and void at the time it was celebrated. The
marriage is considered not to have been contracted and the spouses can remarry after
fulfilling certain requirements (Gloria 2007). Some examples of voidable marriages
include those where either spouse was below 18 years of age, even if th eir parents or
guardian s consented to the marriage, and those that were solemnized by someone who
had no legal authority to solemnize marriages. An instance where either spouse is found
to be “psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage” is also considered to void the marriage, even when manifestation of the
incapacity occurs after the solemnization of the marriage (Nolledo 1987: 10). Finally, in
annulment the marriage is declared to have been defective at th e time of celebration, but
is considered valid until the time it is annulled (Fenix-Villavicencio and David 2000).
Hence, prior to the annulment the parties cannot remarry (Gloria 2007). Some of the
grounds for annulment of marriage include incapacity of either spouse to consummate
the marriage, either spouse having a sexually transmitted disease, the consent of either
spouse having been obtained through fraud, or either spouse having been of unsound
mind (Nolledo 1987).
Although legal means are available to terminate marriage in the Philippines,
Filipino couples rarely resort to them because of th eir prohibitive cost, the very long
legal procedure involved, and the lack of any guarantee that they will be granted
(Taylor 1983; Lopez 2006; Emery 2013; Calonzo and Cayabyab 2013). In Metro
Manila, attorneys’ fees for matrimonial dissolution cases range from approximately
P20,000 to P1,000,000 (USD 398 to USD 19,8782), or more for complex cases, with an
average fee of P50,000 (USD 994) (Lopez 2006: 95). This does not include filing fees
and other related expenses. In addition to these costs, some groups lament the
inadequacy of available legal measures to respond to the many causes of marriage
failure (Bernardo 1998). Declarations of nullity of marriage and annulment do not cover
problems that occur during the course of marriage, while legal separation, although it
covers problems that arise during the marriage, does not terminate it and allow the
parties to enter new marriages (Bernardo 1998; Daytec-Yangot 2015). These factors
have led some groups, particularly women’s groups, to file a series of divorce bills in
the Philippine Congress. Advocates of divorce law in the Philippines argue that divorce
will liberate women from the bondage of marital violence and will promote the well-
being not only of spouses but also of children from broken marriages (Fen ix-
2 1 Phili ppine peso= 0.020 US Dollar.
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1525
Villavicencio and David 2000; Miller 2008; Jacob 2013). “Children conceived or born
out of a void or annulled marriage are considered illegitimate and an amended birth
certificate indicating the new civil status of the children affected is ordered by the court,
unless the judgment of nullity or annulment was based on Articles 36 and 53 of the
Family Code” (Jacob 2013: 24). Some argue that once divorce is legalized and has been
accepted in the Philippines, the stigma associated with being the ‘second’ family or
‘anak sa labas’ (an illegitimate child) will be eliminated (Jacob 2013). Although several
divorce bills have been filed in the Philippine Congress, none has yet succeeded, due in
part to very strong opposition from the Catholic Church (Taylor 1983; Pamfilo 2007;
Miller 2008). The Roman Catholic Church and those against any divorce bill believe
that “divorce is unconstitutional, that it is anathema to Filipino culture, that it is
immoral, that it will destroy the Filipino family, that it will legalize promiscuity, that it
will contribute to the increase in broken families, that it will be abused by spouses who
find it easier to give up on their marriage rather than try to reconcile their differences,
that it will lead to custody battles, and that it will be detrimental for the children”
(Gloria 2007: 18).
The Catholic Church argues that divorce is unnecessary in the Philippines because
there are already provisions in the Family Code to end an unsatisfactory marriage.
4.2 Trends in union dissolution in the Philippines
The Family Code of the Philippines defines marriage as a “special contract of
permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family life.” Given the permanence of marriage in the
country, the prevalence of marital dissolution is very low. This low proportion,
particularly of per sons who are formally separated, can also be attributed to the fact that
obtaining a legal separation or annulment is difficult and expensive, so that these
remedies are not normally available to the common people (Lauser 2008). Other factors
that contribute to the relatively low rate of marital dissolution in the country include the
Filipinos’ attachment to their kin, their concern not to ruin their family’s reputation, and
the prevailing child-centeredness of the Filipino culture (Chant 1997b). Table 2 presents
the number s and proportions of Filipinos 10 year s of a ge and older classified as
divorced or separated in Philippine censuses since 1960. The table shows that since that
date the male and female proportions have both trebled, while the absolute numbers
have increased more than 10-fold. In 1960 there were 28,988 Filipino men and 52,187
Filipino women who were divorced or separated. By 2010 these numbers had increased
more than 10-fold to 330,253 men and 565,802 women. As in other geographic settings,
the higher number of women than of men who are divorced or separated could be due to
higher repartnering rates among men than women (Dommaraju 2016). Data from the
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
Philippine Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) also reveals that the proportion of
Filipino women aged 15 to 49 who were divorced or separated increased from just
under 2% in 1993 to about 4% in 2013 (NSO and Macro International Inc. 1994;
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and ICF International 2014).
Table 2: Numbers and proportions of Filipinos aged 10 years and older
divorced and separated 19602010
Men Women
Number Percentage Number Percentage
1960 28,988 0.32 52,187 0.57
1970 40,130 0.33 77,018 0.61
1980 59,257 0.35 122,987 0.72
1990 93,695 0.43 186,441 0.85
2000 202,007 0.71 356,016 1.25
2010 330,253 0.92 565,802 1.58
Source: 19602010 Philippine Censuses.
Similar upward trends can also be observed in data on numbers of annulment and
nullity cases filed at the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG), where cases increased
from 4,520 in 2001 to 11,135 in 2014 (Figure 1). The majority of these cases were filed
by wives (61%), of whom 91% were 30 years old or younger. A large majority (80%)
of husbands who initiated cases were also 30 years old or younger. About 4 in 10 of
those who filed cases h ad been married for five years or less. National surveys have
also shown that marital dissolution is very common among the young, and typically
occurs during the earlier years of marriage (Abalos 2011). Meanwhile, another study in
Metro Manila has also shown that marital dissolution is more common among the poor
(Medina et al. 1996). In a survey of petitioners involved in nullity cases, the most
common reasons given for petitioning can be br oadly grouped as follows: 1) adultery
and desertion; 2) substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) without, or usually with verbal or
physical/sexual abuse; 3) immaturity; 4) conflicts about in-laws and finances; 5)
psychiatric disorder/neurosis/psychosis; and/or 6) sexual dysfunctions (Dayan et al.
2001 cited in Pamfilo 2007:429).
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1527
Figure 1: Number of nullity and annulment cases per year, Philippines:
Source: Office of the Solicitor General.
It is possible that the numbers of dissolved unions reported in censuses and other
official statistics are underreported for several reasons. Those who have found new
partners report themselves as in consensual unions in some surveys, while those who
are abandoned or deserted by th eir spouses ma y report themselves as married instead of
separated in censuses (Medina 2001). The stigma associated with being separated or
divorced, especially among the middle class, also contributes to the undercounting of
divorced and separated Filipinos in official statistics (Medina et al. 1996).
4.3 Trends in attitudes towards divorce in the Philippines
The increasing prevalence of union dissolution in the Philippines has been accompanied
by changing attitudes toward divorce (Bulatao 1978; Mangahas 2012). In the past, only
a minority of Filipinos approved of a divorce law being introduced in the Philippines
(Bulatao 1978), but public approval of divorce has been changing. Consistently, over
the last 20 years, roughly 40% of Filipinos aged 18 years or over have agreed to the
statement “Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out
their problems” (Figure 2). Although this proportion barely changed between 1994 and
2012, the proportion that disagreed declined slightly, from 49% in 1994 to 45% in
2012. Meanwhile, the proportion ambivalent about divorce rose slightly, from 13% to
16%. A similar but much more recent indicator, however, reveals that Filipinos have
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Number of cases
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
become more open to the idea of divorce, as evidenced by increasing agreement with
the statement “Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile
anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again”
(Figure 3). In 2005 the proportion of Filipinos aged 18 years and over who agreed with
this statement was only 43%, but this had increased to 60% by 2014. Approval of this
statement was higher among men than women, and this gender difference widened
between 2005 and 2014. In 2005, 44% of men and 41% of women agreed with it.
Corresponding percentages in 2014 were 62% for men and 57% for women. If these
figures are any indication, it is likely that a much more liberal attitude toward divorce is
emerging, but whether this openness to divorce will translate to legislation remains an
open question.
Figure 2: Attitude towards the statement: “Divorce is usually the best option
when couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems”
by sex, Philippines: 19942012
Source: Computed by author from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) Data on Family and Changing Gender Roles.
41 35 38 34 40 37 39 39 39
11 15 13 13 12 13 17 16 16
48 50 49 53 48 50 44 46 45
Male Female Both
Male Female Both
Male Female Both
1994 2002 2012
Disagree Neither Agree
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1529
Figure 3: Attitudes toward the statement “Married couples who have already
separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce
so that they can get legally married again,” by sex, Philippines:
Source: Social Weather Stations (SWS) 2015.
5. Data and methods
Data for this analysis is drawn from the two most recent rounds of the National
Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted in the Philippines in 2008 and
2013. Each survey collected comprehensive information on women’s reproductive
health, marriage timing, contraceptive methods, and other sociodemographic
characteristics (PSA and ICF 2014). Women of reproductive age (1549) were
interviewed regardless of marital status, but the analysis here is limited to ever married
women, excluding those who were widowed. Furthermore, only women married only
once are included, because previous research has shown that higher-order marriages are
more likely to be dissolved and that the factors associated with dissolution of higher-
order marriages tend to be different from those associated with dissolution of first
marriages (Booth and Edwards 1992). In addition, some important explanatory
variables used in the study, such as age at first union and type of union, are only
44 41 43
52 49 50
62 57 60
12 12 12
17 15 16
11 11
43 46 45
30 35 32 26 32 29
Male Female Both
Male Female Both
Male Female Both
2005 2011 2014
Disagree Undecided Agree
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
pertinent to the first union. The analysis is also limited to unions that occurred less than
20 years previously, as marital dissolution tends to happen within the first 20 years
(Clark and Brauner-Otto 2015). A total of 13,470 women are included in the analysis,
of which 601 (4.54%) were divorced (8) or separated (593). Details of the methodology
and sampling procedures used in these surveys can be found elsewhere (NSO and ICF
Macro 2009; PSA and ICF 2014).
5.1 Dependent variable
The main outcome variable is the marital status of the woman at the time of the survey,
categorized as currently married (including living togeth er) or divorced/separated. The
main interest of this paper is in women who have had their unions dissolved compared
to those who are still in a union. Thus, those in formal marriages and those living
together are lumped together, although the type of first union is included as one of the
correlates in the multivariate analysis.
Although age at union was collected in the surveys, age at which the union was
dissolved was not, so it is not possible to examine the timing of marital dissolution.
Thus, the sample consists of women whose unions had dissolved at different periods.
Bearing this in mind, the set of explanatory variables used to examine union dissolution
are indicators that are unlikely or r elatively unlikely to change over a woman’s
postmarriage life course, such as her birth cohort, education, childhood place of
residence, religion, and ethnicity. Logistic regression is used to identify which of these
explanatory variables are significant predictors of union dissolution among Filipino
5.2 Explanatory variables
‘Education’ refers to the highest grade completed by the respondent and is categorized
into below secondary, secondary, or above secondary education. Earlier research has
shown that education is a relatively stable indicator of socioeconomic status that is
established early in adulthood and tends to vary only slightly after marriage (Tzeng and
Mare 1995; Hewitt, Baxter, and Western 2006). Since divorce and separation are
relatively uncommon in the Philippines and their social and economic costs are still
high, it is expected that marital dissolution would be concentrated among highly
educated women. Highly educated women in the Philippines tend to be active in the
labour force and to have the economic independence to separate from their husbands,
either formally or informally, when a marriage becomes unbearable. Women with
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1531
higher levels of education may also perceive themselves as financially self-reliant,
thereby increasing the likelihood of union dissolution (Jennings 2016).
‘Age at first union’ refers to the age at which the woman started living with her
husband. As has been found in earlier studies, Filipino women who enter unions very
early would be expected t o have a higher risk of divorce or separation than those who
enter unions later.
‘Type of union’ indicates whether the first union was a formal marriage or a
consensual union. The former may include women who cohabited before getting legally
married, while the latter comprises only women who cohabited and did not formally
marry in their first union. Given the lower stability of consensual unions compared to
formal marriages, Filipino women who enter consensual union s ar e hypothesized to be
more likely to experience union dissolution than their legally married counterparts.
‘Childhood place of residence’ is a dichotomous variable indicating whether the
respondent lived in an urban or a rural area during childhood. The questions in the two
surveys were slightly different, although both captured the woman’s urban exposure
durin g childhood. In th e 2008 survey th e question was “For most of th e time until you
were 12 years old, did you live in a city, in a town/poblacion, in the barrio or rural area,
or abroad?” In th e 2013 sur vey the question was “At the time of your birth, did your
mother usually live in a city, in a town proper/poblacion or rural area, or abroad?”
Filipino women who grew up in urban areas are expected to have been more disposed
to union dissolution because an “urban environment reduces the r ole of traditional
norms and ethos that in the past helped to keep marriages intact even when the
couples appeared to be incompatible” (Takyi 2001: 83).
Other explanatory variables include birth cohort, survey year, ethnicity, and
religion. Birth cohorts are grouped into 19581969, 19701979, 19801989, and 1990
1998. The variable is included to assess changes in the character of union dissolution by
comparing the union dissolution experiences of women born in different periods. It is
also meant to capture the various cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors that may
have impacted the life experiences of these women. Earlier research has shown that
more recent generations are more likely to have experienced marital dissolution than
older generations (Heaton 1991). Thus, it is hypothesized that the most recent cohort of
Filipino women will exhibit a greater likelihood of having experienced union
dissolution than their older counterparts.
Since the Philippines is home to more than a hundred ethnic groups, ethnicity is
also included as an explanatory variable in order to capture the main dimensions of
ethnic diversity and take into account the varying cultural practices and beliefs of
Filipino women. In certain ethnic groups in the precolonial Philippines divorce was
very common (Delos Angeles 1965), and these groups might even today be more likely
to end their unions through divorce or separation. In addition, specific ethnic groups in
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
the Philippines have traditional practices that may still influence decisions to dissolve
unions. For example, among Ilocanos, where sabong or ‘land dowry’ was practiced,
separation meant land loss on the part of the husband because the land was given to the
wife because she is the prospective mother of his heirs (Scheans 1965). However, due
to limited sample size, only the five major groups are considered in this study. These
are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Ilonggo, and Bicolano. All other ethnic groups are
lumped into the category ‘other’.
Finally, religion is also included to control for the different marriage laws that
govern members of different religious groups in the Philippines. Divorce is not legal for
the majority of Filipinos, who are predominantly Catholic, but is legal for Muslim
Filipinos. Religion, through its ideological and theological principles, may also
influence the value people place in marriage (Takyi 2001). For instance, the Catholic
hierarchy in the Philippines strongly opposes divorce and encourages its flock to
resolve marital woes and keep their marriages intact. Religion is categorized into
Roman Catholic, Islam, and other religions. ‘Other’ religion includes Protestants,
Iglesia ni Kristo, other religious denominations, and those with no reported religion.
6. Results
6.1 Descriptive analysis
Table 3 presents the profile of respondents across several demographic and
socioeconomic ch aracteristics. Most of the respondents were born in the 1970s and
1980s. More than a third (35.7%) married as teenagers while less than 10% married in
their 30s. About a quarter (23.9%) of the women in the sample were cohabiting in their
first union. The majority of respondents had been raised in rural areas (63.3%), and
most had postprimary levels of education. Close to half (48%) had secondary education
while more than a third (34.4%) had above secondary education. Overwhelmingly,
respondents were Catholic (79.1%), while only about 5% were Muslim. Ethnically,
most were either Tagalog (31.7%) or Cebuano (20.9%). Less than 10% were Ilonggo
(9.2%), Ilocano (8.6%), and Bicolano (6%).
Table 4 shows the proportions of divorced and separated women across different
characteristics. It reveals that union dissolution in the Philippines is highest among the
youngest (7%) and the oldest (5.7%) cohorts of Filipino women of reproductive age.
There is not much variation in union dissolution by age at marriage. The prevalence of
union dissolution is significantly higher among those who cohabited (12.8%) compared
to those were legally married (2.3%) in their first union. Experience of union
breakdown is nearly twice as high among women who grew up in urban areas (6.9%)
than among those raised in rural ar eas (3.6%). The pr opor tion of women divorced or
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1533
separated is also slightly higher among those with secondary (5.0%) and above
secondary education (5.3%) than among those with less than secondary education
(3.3%). Finally, union dissolution is much more common among Catholic and Tagalog
women than among their religious and ethnic counterparts.
Table 3: Percentage distributions of respondents by background
Background characteristics N of cases Percentage
Birth cohort
19581969 1,431 11.0
19701979 5,194 39.1
19801989 5,510 40.3
19901998 1,335 9.6
Age at marriage
Under 20 4,994 35.7
2024 5,186 38.7
2529 2,358 18.3
Above 29 932 7.2
Type of first union
Consensual union 3,071 23.9
Legal marriage 10, 399 76.1
Childhood place of residence
Rural 8,907 63.3
Urban 4,541 36.7
Bel ow second ary 2,609 17.7
Secondar y 6,309 48.0
Above s econdar y 4,552 34.4
Roman Catholic 10,186 79.1
Islam 992 5.3
Other religion 2,286 15.7
Tagalog 3,428 31.7
Cebuano 2,948 20.9
Ilocano 1,307 8.6
Ilonggo 1,184 9.2
Bicolano 743 6.0
Others 3,860 23.7
Total N of cases (U nweighted) 13,470
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
Table 4: Prevalence of union dissolution among Filipino women
by background characteristics
Background characteristics Percentage P values
Birth cohort 0.000
Age at marriage
Under 20
Above 29
Type of first union
Consensual union
Legal marriage
Childhood place of residence
Bel ow second ary
Secondar y
Above s econdar y
Roman Catholic
Other religion
6.2 Multivariate analysis
Table 5 presents the results of the regression analyses examining the factors associated
with union dissolution in the Philippines. Coefficients presented in the table are
expressed as ratios of the odds of being divorced or separated as opposed to being in an
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1535
intact union for each category, compared with the odds for the reference category for
each variable. The results reveal that except for age at union, all factors included in the
model are significantly independently associated with the risk of having experienced
union dissolution amon g Filipin o women of reproductive age. Women born more
recently are less likely to have experienced union dissolution than women in the earliest
cohort. For instance, the odds of having experienced union dissolution are 86% lower
for th e youngest birth cohort than for the oldest one. Th e odds of exper iencing union
dissolution is nine times higher among Filipino women who are in a consensual union
compared to those who are legally married. The multivariate analysis also confirms the
magnitude and direction of the educational differences seen in the bivariate analysis.
Increasing education is associated with elevated risk of union dissolution among
Filipino women . The odds of union breakdown are 44% higher amon g women with
secondary education than among those with less than secondary education. Meanwhile,
Filipino women with above secondary education are twice as likely to have their unions
dissolved as those with less than secondary education. Childhood place of residence is
also associated with higher odds of experiencing union dissolution. The odds of
suffering from union breakdown are 47% higher among women who were raised in
urban areas compared with women who grew up in rural areas. Given the lack of legal
restrictions, Muslim women are more prone to divorce or separate than their Catholic
counterparts. Fin ally, Ilonggo, Bicolano, and women in other ethnic groups have
significantly lower odds of union dissolution relative to their Tagalog counterparts.
Table 5: Logistic regression analyses predicting the odds of union dissolution
among women in the Philippines
Background characteristics Odds ratio P values
Birth cohort
1958196 9 (reference)
19701979 0.45 0.000
19801989 0.23 0.000
19901998 0.14 0.000
2008 0.73 0.001
2013 (reference)
Age at first union 0.91 0.121
Age at first union squared 1.00 0.595
Type of first union
Consensual union 9.02 0.000
Legal marriage (r eferenc e)
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
Table 5: (Continued)
Background characteristics Odds ratio P values
Level of education
Bel ow second ary (r ef er ence)
Secondar y 1.44 0.007
Above s econdar y 2.00 0.000
Childhood place of residence
Urban 1.47 0.000
Rural (referenc e)
Catholic (reference)
Islam 1.74 0.029
Other religion 0.92 0.494
Tagalog (r eferenc e)
Cebuano 0.83 0.110
Ilocano 0.79 0.182
Ilonggo 0.69 0.029
Bicolano 0.57 0.009
Other ethnic group 0.73 0.015
Constant 0.24 0.049
Model chi-squar e 646.37 0.000
–2 log likelihood value 4501.36
Number of observations (unweight ed) 13,442
7. Summary and discussion
This paper has examined the trends in union dissolution in the Philippines using census
and survey data. This data reveals that the number an d proportion of Filipinos who are
divorced and separated in the Philippines has been increasin g over time, despite the lack
of a divorce law in the country. This increasing trend of marital dissolution is also
substantiated by administrative data on annulment and nullity cases filed at the Office
of the Solicitor General. Despite the high economic and social cost of pursuing
annulment and nullity cases in the Philippines, the number of Filipino couples that
resorted to these legal avenues more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.
Concomitant with the rising frequency of union dissolution cases in the Philippines is
the growing phenomenon of cohabitation. In the past two decades the proportion of
cohabiting Filipino women of reproductive age almost trebled, from 5.2% in 1993 to
14.5% in 2013 (NSO and Macro International Inc. 1994; Abalos 2014a; NSO and ICF
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1537
Macro 2014). The simultaneous increases in union dissolution and in this emerging
mode of union formation in the Philippines are not coincidental. They are linked
together in different ways. Increasing marital dissolution may have had a causal effect
in producing an alternative form of union formation such as nonmarital cohabitation,
especially among young people (Axinn and Thornton 1992). Filipinos may have
become wary of entering formal unions because of their perceived growing fragility. In
addition, the lack of a divorce law in the Philippines and the prohibitive cost of
obtaining legal separation or annulment may have contributed to th e rise of coh abitation
in the country. For example, a study in Metro Manila revealed that one of the reasons
why some respondents were cohabiting was that “one partner was already married
(Medina et al. 1996: 54). An alternative explanation is that the rise in union dissolution
cases is due to the rise in cohabitation. Previous studies have shown that those who are
in a consensual union are more likely to dissolve their union relative to their married
counterparts (Andersson 2002; Heuveline, Timberlake, and Furstenberg 2003; Jensen
and Clausen 2003). Given the increasing trend towards cohabitation in the country we
would expect a surge in union dissolution cases, given the greater fragility of cohabiting
relationships compared to formal marriages (Bumpass and Sweet 1989). Indeed, in the
current data the majority of women who reported themselves as separated had actually
been in consensual unions, and the proportion increased from 58% in 2008 to 67% in
2013. Finally, the growing public approval of divorce in the country could also have
reduced the stigma associated with being divorced and separated, thus encouraging
more Filipino women to end unsatisfactor y unions.
This study has also examined the correlates of union dissolution in the Philippines.
Multivariate analysis revealed that the type of union, level of education, childhood
place of residence, religion, birth cohort, and ethnicity are all significantly associated
with the experience of union dissolution by Filipino women of reproductive age.
However, contrary to most studies, age at union did not emerge as a significant
predictor of un ion breakdown among Filipino women. The exact reason s for this
unexpected finding are yet to be explored, but it is clear that in the Philippine setting it
is the type of union more than the age at union that predicts the likelihood of union
dissolution. As has been shown in the multivariate analysis, Filipino women who
cohabit in their first union and do not marry have higher odds of separating than those
who are legally married. Whether the reason for this is that the legally married have a
better quality of relationship and higher marital commitment compared to cohabiting
couples remains unknown in the Philippine setting.
The influence of education on union dissolution in the Philippines is consistent
with the expectation that in settings where union dissolution is relatively low and the
cost of dissolution is high, better-educated women are more likely to end their unions.
Higher education gives Filipino women the necessary economic resour ces to leave a
Abalos: Divorce an d separati on in the Philippines: Tr ends and corr elates
bad marriage. In fact, frequently the deciding factor among Filipino women when
leaving their spouses is their ability to handle the financial consequences of the
marriage breakdown (Mendez-Ventura 1981). In addition, only women with substantial
financial resources can afford the high costs of obtaining legal separation or annulment
in the Philippines. Although either party can initiate a dissolution, qualitative evidence
indicates that among the highly educated who are legally separated from their spouses it
is mostly the wives who initiated the legal process and paid for it (Escareal-Go 2014).
Finally, considering the strong stigma attached to being divorced or separated in the
Philippines, the sense of empowerment and independence afforded by higher education
enables highly educated Filipino women to rise above this stigma.
The Filipino woman ’s childhood place of residence also has significant influence
on her likelihood of experiencing union dissolution. Filipino women raised in urban
areas ar e more likely to have their unions dissolved than their rural counterparts. The
lower odds of dissolution of Filipino women rear ed in rural compar ed to urban
communities could be attributed to the traditional values and beliefs instilled in them
during their younger years (Medina 2015). Unlike women reared in urban settings,
those raised in rural areas may also have been influenced by their parents and family
members in their mate selection processes, and thus may have experienced much
stronger social pressure to keep their unions intact.
Finally, religion and ethnicity also emerged as significant correlates of union
dissolution among women in the Philippines. Muslim women are more likely to
experience divorce or separation than Catholic women. This could be due to the lack of
legal restrictions among Muslim women, since divorce is considered legal under
Muslim law. The strong opposition of the Catholic hierarchy to divorce and separation
may also have discouraged Filipino women from dissolving their unions. Finally,
Ilonggo and Bicolano women have lower odds of experiencing union dissolution than
their Tagalog counterparts. Tagalog women are mostly from the most highly urbanized
area in the Philippines, Metro Manila, and their exposure to this urban environment
may have raised their odds of experiencing union dissolution compared to their
counterparts from less urbanized settings.
This study has several limitations. The cross-sectional nature of the data does not
allow causal analysis between the independent and dependent variables used in the
study. The date of union dissolution was not collected in the survey, so marriage
duration was not controlled for in the multivariate analysis, although age at union was
included in the model to indicate the duration of the union. The woman’s employment
status at the time the marriage was dissolved was also not asked in the survey, so this
important variable was not included in the model. Other variables that may have an
impact on marital dissolution, such as relationship quality, attitudes toward divorce, and
income are also not captured in the study due to lack of data. Notwithstanding these
Demographic Research: Volume 36, Article 50 1539
limitations, this study has documented the rise in union dissolution in the Philippines,
and has investigated the factors associated with Filipino women’s experience of union
dissolution, thus improving our understanding of the changing character of union
dissolution in the country.
8. Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Gordon Carmichael, Benoît Laplante, Neil Bennett, Kim Xu, and
the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
Special thanks to Andrew Cherlin for encouraging me to revise and resubmit this paper
as part of the Special Collection.
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... The statistics recorded accounts for why Filipinos majority have nuclear families. However, marriage quality related to marriage dissolution is a topic that Filipinos ignore because, as a fact, the Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is not legal (Abalos, 2017). The breakup of marriages in the Philippines is hard to ascertain given the absence of divorce, there have been financial and other costs in obtaining legal separation and annulment. ...
... With this, it is much harder to represent marriage dissolutions in the country. In support to this, in the paper of Abalos (2017), he concluded that the three main causes associated with being divorced or separated among women in the Philippines: first, educational attainment, taking into account the capacity of an individual to accept the responsibilities equipped in a marriage; second, the type of the first union, i.e., if a couple already had legally bonded, which is also considered to be associated with the risk of dissolution, if couples stay out of legal matters; third, the woman's childhood place of residence has shown to influence their experience of marital dissolution. ...
... Therefore, it has been justified that marriage patterns and dissolution are a factor in determining the high number of single mothers in the Philippines. In support of this, Abalos (2017) found out that an alarmingly high number of Filipino men admit to having extramarital sex. Specifically, the National Demographic and Health Survey (NSDH) found out that 21% of Filipino men have experienced extramarital affairs. ...
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The proliferation of family structures in society due to modernization takes account of the rise of single parents in the Philippines, having around 15M Filipino single parents, and that 95% of the statistics were found to be single mothers (WHO, 2007). The researchers performed qualitative research on the poverty situation of Filipino solo-parent households. With the in-depth literature review, the researchers enumerated the issues and struggles of these solo-parent households. Since the RA 8792 focuses on this paper’s unit of analysis, the researcher conducted an evaluative study to measure the efficacy of the policy implemented towards the rising poverty situation, specifically concerning its gaps and loopholes and its accessibility to those targeted beneficiaries. Besides this, the newly amended Expanded Solo Parents’ Act of 2020 in the Philippines is analyzed, alongside the current Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. With the help of the policy analysis and the literature review on the situations of Filipino single parents, the researchers are able to raise the argument that the Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2020, upon the recent amendments, is not sufficient to address the goals of the policy to raise living standards of Filipino solo parents.
... Нерушимость брака записана в ст. 2 части XV Конституции Филиппин 28 . Существует процедура признания брака недействительным, но это очень длительная и дорогостоящая процедура 29 . ...
The article examines why the Philippines has remained a Catholic country despite half a century of existence under American administration. The leadership of the Catholic Church in the Philippines maintains unity in diversity, and a Charismatic movement has been integrated into the church. The church leadership has been active in supporting the most vulnerable and preserving the democratic order of society. Under these conditions Protestantism was not widespread, being practiced by about eight percent of the population in the last decade, the growth of Protestants has stopped. It is likely that the Catholic Church will be able to maintain its influence in the Philippines in the future.
... This not only depends on both parties being willing to divorce, being capable of understanding the process, and, if necessary, getting legal support, but also on a system that allows couples to divorce at all. A country like the Philippines, which is the last country (except for the Vatican) where divorce is illegal (this legislation is currently under debate), makes it virtually impossible for large parts of the population to legally separate (Abalos 2017). Therefore, we should move away from a narrow focus on internal capabilities and instead broaden the focus towards taking into account external conditions in order to assess the combined capabilities a person has when it comes to solving legal problems and accessing justice. ...
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In this paper, we analyse the development of the term “legal capabilities”. More specifically, we do three things. First, we track the emergence and development of the notion of legal capabilities. The term legal capabilities was used in legal research long before the capability approach was introduced in that field. Early on, its conceptualisation mainly reflected elements of legal literacy. In more recent writings, it is claimed that the notion is based on the capability approach. Second, we critically analyse the current use of the term legal capabilities and show that there is no proper theoretical grounding of this term in the capability approach. This is problematic, because it might give rise to misunderstandings and flawed policy recommendations. Third, we suggest some first steps towards a revision of the notion of legal capabilities. Starting from the concept of “access to justice”, legal capabilities have to be understood as the real opportunities someone has to get access to justice, rather than merely as formal opportunities or internal capabilities.
... Same-sex marriage, gender identity recognition, abortion, pornography, and sex work are all illegal. Perhaps most strikingly, divorce remains illegal in the Philippines, the only other country other than the ecclesiastical state of the Vatican where it is not legally permitted (Abalos, 2017). ...
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This chapter describes the experiences of psychologists taking action for the rights and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the country context of the Philippines. We reflect on our work as Filipino psychologists in various forms of advocacy and community engagement from 2010 to the present. Three case studies are presented: knowledge generation and dissemination, community organising within the psychology profession, and collaboration with LGBT+ activists toward social change. We utilise community psychological frameworks, in our particular cultural context, to highlight the value of reaching out beyond academic spaces to build community collaboration ('nothing about us without us'), diskarte (the Filipino concept of creative problem-solving in the face of constraints such as limited resources), and queering (the playful subversion of normative ways of thinking and doing, to uncover systems of power and achieve group goals). We suggest that by recognising and applying key principles, strategies, and perspectives used by community psychologists, we can imagine-and create-social change that empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other gender and sexual minorities in the Philippines and beyond.
... Ang isyu at penomeno ng kawalang-trabaho, diborsiyo, digmaan, mga gobyernong totalitaryo, at ang imperyalismo -mga konsepto na kaniyang inilarawan sa unang bahagi ng kaniyang libro -ay nananatiling tampok na mga isyu at penomenong panlipunan hanggang sa ngayon. Sinasalamin din ito ng kasalukuyang sitwasyon ng Pilipinas, kung saan ang tantos ng kawalang trabaho ay pumalo sa 17.7% noong Abril 2020 (Philippine Statistics Authority), habang ang tantos ng paghihiwalay ng mga mag-asawa, sa legal man na paraan o hindi, ay patuloy rin sa pagtaas (Abalos 2017). Ang mga totalitaryong gobyerno na binanggit ni Mills sa TSI ay hindi rin nalalayo sa awtoritaryanismo ng mga pangulo na katulad nina Donald Trump (US), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), at Rodrigo Duterte, na pinuno ng mga rehimeng tanyag sa kanilang pasistang mga polisiya at pag-atake sa mga batayang karapatan ng tao. ...
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Si Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) ay isang sosyologo at propesor ng Sosyolohiya sa Columbia University. Pinakakilala siya dahil sa librong The Sociological Imagination (Ang Sosyohikal na Imahinasyon) (1959), isang klasikong akda na naglalaman ng konseptuwal na balangkas sa pagsusuri ng lipunan, ng metodolohiya o paraan upang maintindihan at mapag-aralan ito, at ng hamon sa mga estudyante at iskolar ng agham panlipunan na gawing makabuluhan ang kanilang pag-aaral ng lipunan. Bagamat may sampung kabanata ang libro, ang unang kabanata na may pamagat na "The Promise" (Ang Pangako) ang pinakatanyag sapagkat dito malinaw na binaybay at ipinaliwanag ni Mills ang konsepto at kabuluhan ng "sosyolohikal na imahinasyon." Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit ang una hanggang ikatlong bahagi ng kabanatang "The Promise" ang napiling isalin mula sa Ang Sosyolohikal na Imahinasyon. Dito matatagpuan ang depinisyon, halaga, at balangkas ng naturang konsepto. Mahalaga ang pagsasalin sa wikang Filipino ng bahaging ito ng aklat upang mas madaling mabasa, maunawaan, at magamit ito ng mga mag-aaral at mga mananaliksik na Pilipino, partikular sa panahong higit na kailangang mapaunlad ang katangian ng pag-iisip at interbensiyon na kritikal. Mga susing salita: Pagsasalin, sosyolohikal na imahinasyon, C. Wright Mills, sosyolohiya, agham panlipunan 1 Nais magpasalamat ng tagasalin kina Bomen Guillermo at RC Asa para sa kanilang mga komento at suhestiyon upang mapaunlad ang burador ng manuskritong ito. Pasasalamat din kina Prop. Roland Simbulan at Prop. John Ponsaran sa kanilang suporta. Abstract (English) Charles Wright Mills (1916-1962) was a sociologist and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. He is most well-known for his book The Sociological Imagination (1959), a classic work where he proposed a conceptual outline and method to investigate society-at-large and challenged students and social scientists alike to engage in relevant studies of the social world. Although the book has ten chapters, the first chapter entitled The Promise is the most prominent, since this contains the definition, relevance, and conceptual outline of the Sociological Imagination. A Filipino translation of this text is therefore important to provide wider access and ease understanding and use for Filipino students and researchers, especially at a time when critical thinking and intervention are essential.
... Haneman (2017) examines the shifting attitude of ML population towards MR and finds that ML population is perfectly comfortable with cohabitation. Abalos (2017) evaluates the associated factors of the rising DR and concludes that higher education and cohabiting results in an increasing trend of divorces. Eickmeyer & Manning (2018) estimate the rising trend of cohabitation instead of MR in the ML population. ...
The study investigates the causal link between the Millennials (ML) Population (18-37 year age) and the Marriage Rate (MR) (married population/total population) for the countries of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom (UK) by using the bootstrap causality test. The findings suggest that ML population has a significant negative impact on MR in Italy and the Netherlands, while MR has a significant negative impact on ML population in Spain. Besides, the System Generalized Method of Moment Regression (SGMM) is conducted to release the effects of the Divorce Rate (DR), Education Attainment (EA), Globalization (GB), Social Protection (SP), Secularization (SEC), House Prices (HP), Financial Crisis (FC), and Working Population of women (WP) variables on MR and ML population. Likewise, the outcomes display that these are the leading factors of explaining ML population. Our results support the two-period model of Peters (1986), which states that MR is the combination of the economic, social, and religious elements and has important policy implications.
... The study showed that urban women had higher odds of divorce compared to their rural counterparts. This finding in line with other studies [8,41,42]. The reason for this might be the difference in housing ownership and cost conflict between urban and rural couples. ...
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Background Globally, divorce is a common phenomenon in couples' marital life. As a result, many divorced couples and their children face several social, economic, and health problems after dissolution. There is little information on the magnitude and determinants of divorce in developing countries including Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to estimate the prevalence of divorce from the first union and its predictors among reproductive-age women in Ethiopia. Methods We used the 2016 Ethiopia demographic and health survey data for this analysis. The survey was a community-based cross-sectional study conducted from January 18 to June 27, 2016. The survey employed a two-stage stratified cluster sampling technique. A total of 11,646 ever-married women were included in the analysis. Bivariate and multivariable logistics regression was done to identify the determinants of divorce from the first marriage. A p-value < 0.05 was used to declare statistical significance. Results About 25% (95%CI: 23.4% - 26.6%) ever-married women were divorced from their first marital relationship. Women who were married at age < 15 years (AOR = 1.34; 95%CI: 1.07–1.68), urban women (AOR = 1.69; 95%CI: 1.22–2.35), women who did not attend formal education (AOR = 4.36; 95%CI: 3.14–6.05), women who were employed (AOR = 1.51; 95%CI: 1.31–1.73), and being childless (AOR = 1.34; 95%CI: 1.07–1.69) had higher odds of experiencing a divorce. Similarly, women who experienced partner violence, women with no house ownership, and women in the Amhara region had higher odds of divorce from their first marital union. Conversely, women in Oromia, SNNPR, the metropolis, and the pastoral regions had lower odds of divorce from their first marital union. Conclusion Divorce from the first marriage is high in Ethiopia. Preventing early marriage and partner violence and promoting girls’ education would reduce the divorce rate in Ethiopia.
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Family is the most basic unit of society, and the foundation of it is the parents, marriage, and offspring. Everyone longs for a place to call home and a healthy family both in mind and body relationship. Generally, people's view of complete families has married parents with children. Even so, the case is not always like that. Broken families are not uncommon; rather, it is familiar and often encountered around us. This study's primary goal is to assess the lived experiences of students from broken families amidst the pandemic, specifically, it sought the following objectives: (1) to describe the positive experiences of students from broken families, (2) to describe the challenges of the students from broken families experience and why do they consider those as challenges, (3) to describe the effects on academic performance of the students coming from broken families. The study utilized Interpretative Phenomenology Analysis (IPA) with the 10 participants ages of 15 to 24 years old from a broken family. Based on the study, the findings are the following: (1) Most of the students from broken families are greatly challenged by financial, emotional, mental, social, and behavioral problems that contribute to their poor academic performance. (2) Most of the students that have divorced (separated) parents are inattentive and limited. They rarely provide time, care, and financial support for student's daily needs and academic fees. (3) Students from broken families cope with being independent and optimistic in their situation. (4) Students from broken families gain positive experiences despite the traumatic family background, especially personal growth and building stronger relationships.
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We investigate how recent changes in the Western family have affected childhood living arrangements. For 17 developed countries, we use multistate life table techniques to estimate childhood trajectories of coresidence with biological fathers versus other maternal partners. In all countries childhood exposure to single parenting is more often caused by parental separation than out-of-partnership childbearing. Both exposure to single parenting and expectancy of childhood spent with a single non-cohabiting mother vary widely across countries, with the United States exhibiting the highest levels of each at early 1990s rates. The greatest international variations concern parental cohabitation-its prevalence, durability, and the degree to which its increase has compensated for a decrease in the expectancy of childhood spent with married parents. Overall, we find little evidence of international convergence in childrearing arrangements, except that in countries where parental marriage has declined over time, childrearing has predominantly shifted to single mothers.
The Philippines is the only member State of the United Nations without a general divorce law which is attributed to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church for more than 300 years of Spanish colonization. Currently, the Philippine legal regime permits legal separation, annulment, and declaration of nullity of marriage, although divorce by Muslims and indigenous people as well as one validly obtained abroad by a foreigner against a Filipino spouse, is recognized. Legal separation authorizes the couple’s separation from bed and board but leaves the marital cord unsevered. Any new relationship for either party may result in criminal prosecution in a country where marital infidelity is a crime. Annulment and declaration of nullity are concerned with validity and nullity issues. Causes of marital discord that develop after the couple take each other as husband and wife are beyond the province of the latter two remedies. The Constitution protects marriage as an inviolable social institution. It is argued that this is not an express or implied prohibition of divorce as the dissolution of marital unions where vows of love and fidelity are routinely breached and debased is also necessary to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Divorce is now customary international law which the Philippines must honor, judging from the fact all other UN member States permit it. Divorce is also an aspect of the human rights to marry and to life which the Philippines committed to respect, protect, and fulfill under its treaty obligations. Moreover, despite its strong Roman Catholic background, Philippine culture is receptive to divorce and in fact had a general divorce law for 33 years mostly as a colony of the United States. Religious dogma as basis for Congress’ phlegmatic attitude to divorce is misplaced in view of the separation of religion and State and the fact that even Canon Law authorizes annulment of marriage.
Few studies have examined the causes and consequences of marital dissolution in non-Western settings. This article explores the fundamental factors that may predict marital dissolution in a mainly agrarian setting in South Asia, where collectivism has historically been valued over individualism and where life is centered on the family. Using event history analyses with retrospective life history data from the Chitwan Valley Family Study conducted in rural Nepal, I explore the possible predictors of marital dissolution. Results suggest that couples in which wives married at older ages and chose their spouse in conjunction with their parents face lower risk of marital dissolution, while wives’ work increases the risk. Moreover, couples married for longer durations and couples who have more children face lower risks of marital dissolution. The influences of many of these factors have changed over the last few decades, pointing toward the important role of changing social context on marital trajectories.
This research examines current attitudes toward marriage among urban middle class women and men in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Twenty-four focus group interviews were conducted among older ever-married and younger never-married participants in Hanoi, Bangkok, and Manila. Statistical data indicate that there has been a general upward trend in age at first marriage and increasing percentages of non-marriage among certain urban sub-groups in many parts of Asia. One central argument in the literature is that greater economic independence among women may be largely responsible. A second hypothesis is that unfavorable economic circumstances may affect marriage timing, particularly for men. Our interviews provide support for both hypotheses. They also suggest that both men and women still largely view the institution of marriage as important in general, as well as personally. This is especially true in Vietnam, where marriage is seen as a filial duty, in addition to being desirable in its own right. In the Philippines, it remains important to bless the marriage, but because divorce remains illegal many men and women now prefer to delay marriage (or prefer to have their children delay marriage) in order to be sure they have found the right partner. In Thailand, participants viewed marriage favorably on balance. Nonetheless, there was also explicit recognition that marriage is no longer a financial necessity for women and that there can be considerable downsides to marriage, including constraints on personal freedom. This was seen as particularly true for men, but also for women.
Divorce is one of the main drivers of family instability in sub-Saharan Africa. Using data from 101 Demographic and Health Surveys and novel estimation techniques, we 1) provide the first systematic estimates of divorce across 33 countries; 2) assess trends in divorce in 20 countries; and 3) investigate the key country-level correlates of divorce both across and within countries. Despite considerable geographic variation, our estimates show that divorce is common in most countries. Contrary to expectations, however, we find no evidence that divorce is increasing. Instead, divorce has been either stable or declining in recent decades. We show that socioeconomic factors associated with industrialization have countervailing effects on divorce. Urbanization and female employment are associated with higher levels of divorce, while age at first marriage and female education correspond to lower rates. These findings have implications for current and future family dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this article, several dimensions of temporality are identified and their impact on marital dissolution is assessed in a multivariate continuous time model using marital and fertility histories from the June 1985 Current Population Survey. The temporal concepts are timing of prior events, historical time, duration dependence, and selectivity. Results indicate that marital stability is decreasing over time, increases over marital duration, increases with age at marriage, and varies with the arrival and aging of children. Models with unobserved heterogeneity indicate only modest effects for selectivity. Failure to consider several dimensions of time will often lead to biased results.
This article examines changes in the trends and patterns in union formation of men and women in the Philippines, with primary focus on the role of education and urbanization. The study also investigates the determinants of marriage timing of both Filipino men and women to assess whether similar factors are at work in their decision to enter marriage. Data are drawn from the 2003 and 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey, and the Cox proportional hazard models are used for analysis. Results reveal that both Filipino men and women are delaying entry to marriage, as evidenced by their increasing age at marriage. The proportion of Filipinos living together has been increasing over time, compensating for the consistent decline in the proportion of those who are legally married. Education remains an important factor in marriage timing of both genders, although its impact is more substantial among the most recent cohort.