How to know if Annulment or Divorce is right for you and what to do next.

On February 21, there has been several news pertaining to the House Divorce Bill. Rappler gives the most accurate details. It sounds easy in writing but the process of going through it is actually more difficult than people imagine.  There is a push but the processing time may take longer than expected.

As of writing, annulment and legal separation are the only legal means to be separated. According to Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines, here are 6 grounds for annulment:

  1. Absence of Parental Consent
  2. Mental Illness or psychological incapacity
  3. Fraud.
  4. That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence.
  5.  One or the other party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage.
  6. Either party was at the time of marriage afflicted with a sexually-transmitted-disease (STD) found to be serious and seems to be incurable.

If any of the grounds of  annulment has been satisfied, you can consult a lawyer and proceed in filing a case for annulment. In my case I filed my annulment due to psychological incapacity. Aside from hiring a lawyer, I had to hire a psychologist to make an assessment. The assessment is then presented to the court as an evidence to support my case.

Annulment and divorce, is not a walk in the park. Before jumping on the separation wagon, I’ve put up a list of  thoughts you might want to consider as your next step.

1. Is the relationship worth saving? 

Have you considered if it is worth saving? Go out on a few dates alone and re-evaluate the relationship. Are you still good friends? Are you still kind to each other? Are you still intimate to each other? Do you still share some laughs? Do you still have the same goals as a couple? If your answer is no to all my questions, then it would be best to talk to your spouse or your future ex about it. If you keep on bickering and you can’t get your wants and needs across, it would be best to get a mediator. Get a couples therapist so you can figure out how to go through life again together or apart.

2. Assess your situation.

Are you paying huge loans? Can you resolve issues on your own? Are you financially dependent on your spouse? What is your living situation like? Do you have kids? In short, get organized. Before you make any decision to be separated from your spouse, have a reality check.  Many Filipinos always has this “bahala na” attitude. Throw that out the window. You’ll save not just yourself but those close to you of heartache. If you’re not financially independent, discuss how you will go about sharing the expenses while you both try to get your life back. It’s also a different situation when kids are involved. Custody and visitation rights has to be in place.

3. Cry. Lots of tears will be wasted. 

Don’t put up a strong face. It’s ok to be vulnerable and allow yourself to feel human once in a while. When you feel like crying, let it out. Nobody is perfect.

4. Get ready for change. 

Once a relationship ends, there will be a lot of changes. Consider activities that will keep you busy with the extra time you have. When you announce your separation, expect that talking to common friends with your spouse will become awkward. There will be friends and family who will be on your side. Learn to cope with these changes and understand that a change in routine is not easy.  It takes time to get used to a new lifestyle. Expect the first year of separation to be hard and it will be temporary.

5. Get your own space. 

Get separate rooms. If the situation doesn’t improve, it’s either your spouse moves out or you get your own place. This matters because you’ll have space to think clearly and take care of yourself. It will also make you more independent. Having a sense of autonomy from your spouse will make you feel empowered.

6. Go out and meet friends. 

From point 3, life may be difficult with the current circle you have with your spouse. They will ask you lots of questions, which will cause you to feel uncomfortable and make you depressed if you’re not yet ready. Allow yourself to heal and consider going out to meet other people through your hobbies or a community group. It will make you feel normal again.

7. Exercise. 

Exercise not only boosts energy, it will make you think clearly and will reward you with a stronger physique. It can be running, cycling, swimming or yoga. Whatever rocks your boat, do it! It also prevents mood swings and makes you feel relaxed at the end of  a workout. Have a regular dose of exercise and make it a daily habit. You’ll thank yourself later.

8. Cook and research delicious meals. 

If you don’t have kids and you still have time to cook, do it! It can be therapeutic. Aside from the therapeutic benefits of cooking, you will be aware of the food you’re eating. Skip the fast food and eat healthier meals.

9. Travel solo. 

This may be the most expensive tip for you but it goes back to independence. You will learn more about yourself when you travel solo. Remember the movie Eat, Pray, Love? I’ve done a little bit of traveling alone myself. The last one was in March in Bali. Treat yourself and be surprised of the things you can do on your own in a place totally unfamiliar. Meet new people, be curious about another culture, just go out there and do whatever fancies you. You are special, you deserve it.

10. Be busy and treat yourself as the most important person in your life. 

It goes without saying, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Be so busy making yourself better. Remember what the Flight attendants tell you before you take off the plane? They ask you to put your mask on first before you help the one beside you. You have to remember that you can’t help other people without first taking care of yourself.

11. Write a journal. 

There will be times when you’ll feel bliss and sometimes moments of despair. Writing your thoughts makes you understand your emotions and lets you think clearly. If writing isn’t your thing, get a therapist to help you evaluate your thoughts and emotions without judging. Sometimes it helps if someone listens to us without bias.

I’d like to leave you with a parting quote I embraced while I was going through my annulment and hopefully it will resonate with you during the tough times.

“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

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