Lawyer hopes ''divorce by agreement'' will be recognized in the Philippines
The Japan Federation of Bar Association (JFBA) expressed hope that the "divorce by agreement" a common type of divorce in Japan can also be recognized in the Philippines.
This was mentioned by Takayuki Obata of JFBA as he discussed details and procedures about the ''divorce by agreement'' in a joint conference at the University of the Philippines Law Center in Taguig City on Friday.
"We hope that divorce by agreement can be recognized in the Philippines to correct the absurd situation where only Filipina spouse can now to be divorced, even though the Japanese spouse can get to divorce and remarry," he said.
In his presentation, Obata said among the four types of divorce in Japan which are divorce by mediation in a family court or chotei rikon, divorce by decision of the family court or shimpan rikon and divorce by judgement of a district court or saiban rikon, the divorce by agreement or kyogi rikon is the most "prevalent".
Obata said data shows that "of all divorces, almost 90 percent is divorce by agreement which has been the prevalent type of divorce in Japan, but this percentage has been on a slight downward trend of 95.5 percent in 1950 to 88.3 percent in 2020."
''Divorce by agreement'' is where husband and wife agreed to divorce without a court procedure.
In an interview with the Daily Manila Shimbun, Assistant Professor Andre Palacios, director of the UP ASEAN Law, noted that lack of clarity in the process for recognizing foreign divorce in the Philippines really creates an absurd situation for the Filipinos with foreign spouses.
"An absurd situation where the foreign spouse is already free to remarry and the Filipino spouse is still trapped in the twilight zone. That he or she cannot move on because under Philippine law, he or she is still married," he said.
Palacios also emphasized the importance of the conference amid the pending absolute divorce bill in the Philippine Congress.
"I think it's still timely and still urgently needed. The discussion regarding divorce has been ongoing for decades. I hope it will be decided in favor of approving the bill making it into a law," he said.
In his remarks, Antonio Pido, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National President, expressed his belief that there is a high possibility that the absolute divorce bill will be passed into law within the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
"For the information of our friends from Japan, a Philippine Congress, as I have said, has just passed a bill on divorce, and the possibility of that law being passed under this administration is quite high," he said.
"If the Philippines will have this divorce law for the first time since 1935, then hopefully that kind of law will be harmonized with the laws of Japan, that will benefit both sides of the relationship," he added.
Pido also expressed hope that the Philippine - Japan law conference "will help both countries, particularly Japanese who are married to Filipinos, and also Filipinos who are married to Japanese nationals to have a common understanding on the procedure of the law that will benefit both sides."
"I hope that with an activity like this, both sides of the relationship, meaning the Japanese and the Filipino, will be able to benefit from sharing ideas and hopefully to harmonize our laws," he added.
Palacios also assures that the same joint conference will also be conducted in the future especially once the Philippines passed the absolute divorce bill into a law.
"Yes. If the absolute divorce bill is passed, for sure we will have another conference because it will be part of family law and the topic of family law is very important to the Filipinos in Japan because if you are in another country, your rules regarding your status, your capacity, your family rights are still governed by your home country but while you are abroad in Japan, you are also interacting with Japanese law," he said. Robina Asido/DMS