Till debt (divorce or child support) do us part

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

CRISPIN R. ARANDA

Deeply in love is trumped by deeply in debt – especially if the financial obligations involve spousal and child support while in divorce proceedings.

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The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from Vatican City, which lacks divorce laws.

The Vatican’s last – and only holdout in the fight against divorce is also gaining support: proposed legislation allowing termination of marriage without annulment by the church or civil government had gained more supporters, especially from Rights and Women’s group who advocate the cause of battered and abused spouses.

Italy gave the Vatican the first big blow in 1970 by legalizing divorce, despite the concerted and ferocious opposition from the leadership of the Catholic Church. A subsequent attempt to repeal the Italian divorce law was rejected four years later.

The next Catholic nation – Brazil- legalized divorce in 1977, followed by Spain (1981), Argentina (1987), Ireland (1997) and Chile (2004).

All the other Catholic countries recognize the need to terminate a marriage that continues to keep two people legally bound to each other even if they already live separate lives.

So Filipino spouses or partners of foreign nationals have to face the probability of divorce in countries of their better – or soon-to-be-bitter – half, signaling the end of a marriage that has turned so sour it leaves a taste of rockiness.

Top countries of Filipino spouse/partner destination
Since 2003 until last year, there were 499,436 Filipinos who registered with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) for the mandatory pre-departure counseling session before leaving the country to join the petitioning or sponsoring spouse/partner.

Until the US Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that couples of the same sex can get married anywhere in the United States, Filipino spouses of US citizens were of the opposite sex.

In 2003, the divorce rate in the US stood at 3.8 percent (927,000 divorces out of 2,245,000 marriages in a population of 290,107,933.

Eleven years later, the US divorce rate dipped slightly to 3.2 percent of a total of 2,140,272 marriages in a US population of 256,483,624.

Whether the divorce rate would remain the same in the United States – the country of choice for 43.26 percent of CFO-registered spouses, after same-sex marriage in 2015, is up in the air. The other half of where the Filipino spouses or partners emigrated to is shown on table A.
table_a20161010Divorce rate in Japan
Interestingly, while the number of Filipino spouses to Japan is slightly over half of those going to the United States, the rate of divorce in Japan is much higher than that in the US – approximately 27 percent.

One of every four marriages reportedly ends up in divorce. According to Reuters, The number of divorces annually has almost doubled since 1990, with 264,000 couples formally breaking up in 2000. From 2000 to 2004, there is a little drop in the divorce rate in Japan. According to Health Ministry statistics, divorces in Japan had more than doubled, from just over 95,000 in 1970 to 206,955 in 1996.

Divorce Down Under
In Australia, the Bureau of Statistics shows that the average length spouses stay together has been decreasing from a peak of 12.6 years in 2005 to 12 years in 2014. In that year, there were 46,498 divorces granted in Australia, a decline of 1,140 (2.4 percent) from the 47,638 divorces granted in 2013.

“The crude divorce rate for the number of divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population was 2.0 in 2014, a decrease from 2.1 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population reported for 2013.

The median age of males and females at divorce was 45.2 and 42.5 years respectively in 2014. Median age at divorce in 2014 has increased by 0.4 years for males and 0.3 years for females from 2013. “

In 2014, almost half of the marriages that ended up in divorce in Australia involve children (47 percent) compared with 47.4 percent in 2013.

“The number of children involved in divorces totaled 40,152 in 2014, a decrease from the 41,747 reported in 2013. The average number of children per divorce involving children in 2014 was 1.8.

Freezing of relationships in Canada
North of the US border, Canada Statistics report (2001 to 2005) shows that divorce numbers have remained in the 70,000 range for the five-year period covered.

Of the 13 provinces and territories, Ontario led with marriage-termination numbers with Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta completing the four provinces with highest divorce rates. (See table B)
table_b20161010Kiwi disentanglement in New Zealand 2011-2015
Statistics New Zealand records show “the number of marriages and civil unions registered in New Zealand each year. Civil unions are a recent form of legal relationship. A civil union may be entered into by couples of the same sex or by couples of different sexes. The Civil Union Act 2004 came into force on April 26, 2005 and the first ceremonies were celebrated on April 29, 2005. A marriage formalized by a non-religious or civil ceremony is not a civil union. (see table C)
table_c20161010Child support
Where children are involved, the issue of child support becomes a sensitive financial issue. The United States and member nations of the European Union have ratified the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance of the Hague Convention.

In the US the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the UCCJEA), uniform State law was approved in 1997 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) to replace its 1968 Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (the UCCJA).

Each state court determines how much child support could be shared by the custodial and non-custodial parents. In addition, each state has a Child Support Enforcement Unit. The UCCJEA only determines which States’ courts have and should exercise jurisdiction to do so.

A custodial parent in a Philippine setting (between an American father for example and a Filipina with whom the US citizen has a born out of wedlock may either seek assistance through UCCJEA or the Child Enforcement Unit of the State where the non-custodial father/parent resides.

Pivoting back to Asia, Japan has not yet joined the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support so, until it joins the treaty, child support orders must be enforced in Japan through the normal procedure for enforcing foreign family court judgment.

About half of the Filipino American population in the US is in California for non-custodial parents seeking child support from the father of the illegitimate child (who was a member of the US Armed Forces, either stationed in the Philippines or was on a brief recreation stop).

The specific State agency in California is the Department of Child Support Services – http://www.childsup.ca.gov/. In New York, the Division of Child Support Enforcement handles the cases for both the custodial and non-custodial parents.

Whether in California, New York, Washington State or any other state in the US, the parent seeking child support services must establish paternity (father-child). In all cases, the Child Support agency or unit will need essential information from the father such as social security number, complete name, birth certificate of the child as well as other forms of recognition by the father.

Washington State offers the most exhaustive and online-friendly site for parents intending to pursue child support benefits- https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/faq?field_topic_value=All&page=10. The questions provided by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services can serve as the basis for pursuing child support in other states.

It is not just a matter of saying “I do.” Each spouse must be able to support that pledge.

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1 Comment

  1. Divorce and debt must be avoided 100 percent. Divorce is a failure by both husband and wife to adjust. It must be learning to FORGIVE. Never hurry being married. When both parties really can adjust with each others strengths and weaknesses, then it is time to marry. As for debts, avoid creating debt at all cost. It sometimes destroy a family. If you cannot afford the item, do not buy it. The bank interest alone at 3.5 percent per month is delabitating to say the least.