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Two people can voluntarily choose to love, honor, and remain faithful to each other, but in the Philippines it is pretty much only through death, or the torturously long process of annulment, that they can part.

”I had finally gotten out of my long-dead marriage in the devoutly Catholic Philippines, the only country in the world (other than Vatican City) where divorce is not legal.

The Spanish colonizers who ruled the island until the late 19th century imposed their own Catholic traditions, allowing “relative divorce,” or legal separation, in cases involving adultery or one spouse joining a religious order.

But the relevant law declared that “so great is the tie and force of marriage, that when legally contracted, it cannot be dissolved even if one of the parties should turn heretic, or Jew, or Moor, or even commit adultery.” After the Spanish era, divorce laws depended on the colonizer.

She declined to give details about how she finally obtained the annulment.

Last year, she married her longtime boyfriend, with whom she has two children.* * *Like Perez, I filed for annulment claiming my spouse was psychologically incapacitated.

Or they can get an annulment, which in the Philippines is a lengthy and expensive court proceeding.

(An ecclesiastical annulment, granted through a Church tribunal, is a separate procedure, without which a Catholic cannot get remarried in the Church.

It’s a game of mud-slinging and one-upmanship that makes breaking up that much harder and uglier.

My lawyer suggested I try to have both of us declared psychologically incapacitated to double the chances of success, but I refused.

I was afraid such a designation would damage my chances of getting a job or custody of my daughter.“Don’t worry.

Under Philippine law, reasons can include one or both parties having been below the age of 18 when they got married, either party having an incurable sexually transmitted disease, or cases of polygamy or mistaken identity.

Divorce has not always been banned in the Philippines.

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