Emergence of Cohabitation in the Philippines


Cohabitation has quadrupled in incidence among young adult women in the Philippines, rising from 6% in 1993 to 24% in 2013. Given the sluggish change in other family practices, such as low divorce rates and ongoing high fertility, as well as the Catholic Church’s persistent influence, this growth is remarkable and extraordinary. While cohabitation is sometimes characterized as proof of ideational shift and liberalization, its long-term adoption may be linked to socioeconomic situations. Some data shows that lower levels of education are strongly related to a higher probability of cohabitation, indicating that the increased cohabitation in the Philippines is due to socioeconomic deprivation rather than a devaluation of marriage among educated elites.

Although cohabitation is on the rise in many nations, its definition and significance in family formation differ across borders and by demographic segment. Cohabitation may be indicative of ideational development and liberalism; a phenomenon known as the “Second Demographic Transition” (SDT). According to this viewpoint, ideational change spreads through higher or extended education among elites who are forerunners of value change and pioneers of new family practices. Understanding shifting family habits, on the other hand, is dependent on local and historical background. As cohabitation in the Philippines becomes increasingly acceptable, its long-term adoption may be linked to socioeconomic factors. Individuals from various socioeconomic origins may choose cohabitation for reasons that reflect the beliefs, conventions, or limits of their social stratum. Cohabitation may symbolize people’s preferences depending on the demographic segment. Increasingly liberal beliefs or coping techniques in response to economic adversity and insecurity.

Cohabitation in the Philippines is not a new phenomenon. For decades, textbooks have verified its presence (although it remains a small section in the discussion on marriage and family). However, due to restricted data sources, estimating the proportion of the population in cohabiting relationships is challenging. For a long period, the country has practiced two types of cohabitation: consensual marriage and the querida system. A consensual marriage is one in which the relationship is seen as permanent but is not recognized by a formal marriage ceremony. Some relationships are so long-lasting that they were viewed as a replacement for marriage to save the expense of a wedding ceremony. The querida system is another type of cohabitation in which a second wife or family is kept. While both are widely recognized, the latter is deemed more troublesome, particularly when viewed through the eyes of persons whose conventions were heavily affected by Catholic teachings.

This shows that cohabitation in the Philippines is frowned upon despite recent media reports to the contrary. The media has unknowingly challenged the conservative perspective of living in by concentrating on the personal lives of prominent figures, notably those in the entertainment sector and politics. However, although personal opinions may have changed, the impression of others’ opinions may have stayed unchanged. Furthermore, there is a sense of ambivalence when it comes to cohabitation. Filipino males acknowledge that cohabitation is OK, but they would prefer that their children and grandkids marry. To some extent, this suggests a weakening of the anti-cohabitation norm. Furthermore, the stigma that individuals are scared of may no longer exist in reality, because stigma has a temporal character.

The Probable Causes Of The Increase In Divorce And Separation In The Philippines

The rise in union breakup has been matched by an increase in the proportion of Filipinos who live together without marrying. The proportion of cohabiting Filipino women of reproductive age has nearly tripled in the last two decades, rising from 5.2 percent in 1993 to 14.5 percent in 2013. Because cohabitation has significantly higher divorce rates than formal marriage, the growth in cohabitation will almost certainly lead to an increase in the share of separated Filipinos. The surge in the emergence of cohabitation in the Philippines might also be attributed to the country’s “marriage crisis”: cohabitation may be preferred to marriage because it is simpler and less expensive to stop.

Will The Philippines Ever Legalize Divorce Like The Rest Of The World?

As cohabitation in the Philippines grows more popular and more Filipinos adopt more unorthodox ideas on marriage and divorce, the rate of union dissolution in the Philippines is unlikely to slow in the future years. The continuous development of educational options for women, as well as the increasing movement of young people to cities, will contribute to the steady growth in union breakdowns among Filipinos. With the recent shift in leadership in the Philippines, the political environment has grown more receptive to legislation opposed by the Catholic Church, as indicated by significant support for the reintroduction of the death sentence. Despite this, the Catholic Church remains a formidable power in the Philippines when it comes to divorce policy.

Rights of Live-in Partners in Common Law Marriage

Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code acknowledge the family unit and union, regardless of whether society and culture recognize the legality of common law marriage in the Philippines. Although cohabiting couples do not have the same rights and duties as legally married couples, they are nonetheless legally protected. In the Philippines, a live-in partnership is legally recognized as a common-law marriage. Cohabiting has legal consequences, and you can protect yourself and your children if your relationship ends or one of you dies.

Things You Should Know About Affidavit Of Cohabitation

  • What is an Affidavit of Cohabitation?

An Affidavit of Cohabitation is a sworn written statement by a man and woman stating that they have lived together as husband and wife for at least 5 years without any legal barrier to marrying each other. This is usually done following Article 34 of the Family Code, which allows couples who have been living together as husband and wife for at least 5 years to marry without getting a marriage certificate. This is intended to assist couples who are mature and responsible enough (often with children born out of wedlock) to marry without obtaining a marriage license.

  • When is an Affidavit of Cohabitation required?

An Affidavit of Cohabitation is required for couples who want to marry without obtaining a marriage license. The marriage license requirement is waived for a man and woman who have lived together and solely as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least 5 years before the marriage. This is to avoid potentially humiliating and embarrassing the couple as a result of cohabitation outside of a legitimate marriage (due to the publication of every applicant’s name for a marriage license).

  • What information is required to draft an Affidavit of Cohabitation?

You will need the following information to complete your Affidavit of Cohabitation:

  1. The couple’s name and contact information (such as nationality and residence); and
  2. The date the pair began living together.
  3. How much does the document cost?

A single copy of the document costs PHP 350. Once acquired, the document is yours to keep indefinitely.

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Written by: Jennifer Rose S. De la Cruz