Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris vs Brix Ferraris

R E S O L U T I O N

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This resolves the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated April 30, 2003 and February 24, 2004, respectively, for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error.

On February 20, 2001, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 151 rendered a Decision[1] denying the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioner’s marriage with Brix Ferraris. The trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy does not amount to psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were insufficient to prove infidelity. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order[2] dated April 20, 2001 where the trial court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed[3] in toto the judgment of the trial court. It held that the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity or that his “defects” were incurable and already present at the inception of the marriage.[4] The Court of Appeals also found that Dr. Dayan’s testimony failed to establish the substance of respondent’s psychological incapacity; that she failed to explain how she arrived at the conclusion that the respondent has a mixed personality disorder; that she failed to clearly demonstrate that there was a natal or supervening disabling factor or an adverse integral element in respondent’s character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting and complying with the essential marital obligations.[5]

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied[6] for lack of merit; thus, she filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court. As already stated, the petition for review was denied for failure of petitioner to show that the appellate tribunal committed any reversible error.

Petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration.[7] The Court required respondent Brix Ferraris to file comment[8] but failed to comply; thus, he is deemed to have waived the opportunity to file comment. Further, the Court directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on petitioner’s motion for reconsideration which it complied on March 2, 2006.

After considering the arguments of both the petitioner and the OSG, the Court resolves to deny petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

The issue of whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of marriage depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case.[9] Such factual issue, however, is beyond the province of this Court to review. It is not the function of the Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence or premises supportive of such factual determination.[10] It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court,[11] save for the most compelling and cogent reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts,[12] which are unavailing in the instant case.

The term “psychological incapacity” to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.[13] As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.[14] It is for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained,[15] which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate.

As aptly held by the Court of Appeals:

Simply put, the chief and basic consideration in the resolution of marital annulment cases is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish respondent’s psychological condition. Here, appellant contends that there is such evidence. We do not agree. Indeed, the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his “defects” were already present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable.

Quite apart from being plainly self-serving, petitioner’s evidence showed that respondent’s alleged failure to perform his so-called marital obligations was not at all a manifestation of some deep-seated, grave, permanent and incurable psychological malady. To be sure, the couple’s relationship before the marriage and even during their brief union (for well about a year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short period of time, petitioner was happy and contented with her life in the company of respondent. In fact, by petitioner’s own reckoning, respondent was a responsible and loving husband. x x x. Their problems began when petitioner started doubting respondent’s fidelity. It was only when they started fighting about the calls from women that respondent began to withdraw into his shell and corner, and failed to perform his so-called marital obligations. Respondent could not understand petitioner’s lack of trust in him and her constant naggings. He thought her suspicions irrational. Respondent could not relate to her anger, temper and jealousy. x x x.

x x x x

At any rate, Dr. Dayan did not explain how she arrived at her diagnosis that respondent has a mixed personality disorder called “schizoid,” and why he is the “dependent and avoidant type.” In fact, Dr. Dayan’s statement that one suffering from such mixed personality disorder is dependent on others for decision x x x lacks specificity; it seems to belong to the realm of theoretical speculation. Also, Dr. Dayan’s information that respondent had extramarital affairs was supplied by the petitioner herself. Notably, when asked as to the root cause of respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity, Dr. Dayan’s answer was vague, evasive and inconclusive. She replied that such disorder “can be part of his family upbringing” x x x. She stated that there was a history of respondent’s parents having difficulties in their relationship. But this input on the supposed problematic history of respondent’s parents also came from petitioner. Nor did Dr. Dayan clearly demonstrate that there was really “a natal or supervening disabling factor” on the part of respondent, or an “adverse integral element” in respondent’s character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting, and, thereby complying with, the essential marital obligations. Of course, petitioner likewise failed to prove that respondent’s supposed psychological or mental malady existed even before the marriage. All these omissions must be held up against petitioner, for the reason that upon her devolved the onus of establishing nullity of the marriage. Indeed, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the indissolubility of the marital vinculum.[16]

We find respondent’s alleged mixed personality disorder, the “leaving-the-house” attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals,[17] where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than his family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was dishonest to his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the psychological defects spoken of were more of a “difficulty,” if not outright “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitute psychological incapacity; it is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological, not physical, illness.

Also, we held in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals[18] that habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity.

While petitioner’s marriage with the respondent failed and appears to be without hope of reconciliation, the remedy however is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity. An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage.[19] No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally “inviolable” and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state.[20]

Thus, in determining the import of “psychological incapacity” under Article 36, it must be read in conjunction with, although to be taken as distinct from Articles 35,[21] 37,[22] 38,[23] and 41[24] that would likewise, but for different reasons, render the marriage void ab initio, or Article 45[25] that would make the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law were indifferent on the matter.[26] Article 36 should not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves.[27] Neither it is to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like.[28]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error, is DENIED WITH FINALITY.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J., Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Chico-Nazario, J.J., concur.

Footnotes

[1] Rollo, pp. 96-99. Penned by Judge Franchito N. Diamante.
[2] Id. at 101.
[3] Id. at 9-19. Penned by Associate Justice Renato C. Dacudao and concurred in by Associate Justices Godardo A. Jacinto and Danilo B. Pine.
[4] Id. at 17.
[5] Id. at 18.
[6] Id. at 7.
[7] Id. at 208-227.
[8] Id. at 228.
[9] Concurring Opinion of Justice Teodoro R. Padilla in Republic v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 664, 680 (1997).
[10] Abacus Real Estate Development Center, Inc. v. Manila Banking Corporation, G.R. No. 162270, April 6, 2005, 455 SCRA 97, 106.
[11] Domingo v. Robles, G.R. No. 153743, March 18, 2005, 453 SCRA 812, 817.
[12] Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v. Macalinao, G.R. No. 141856, February 11, 2005, 451 SCRA 63, 69.
[13] Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840, 851 (2000).
[14] Santos v. Court of Appeals, 310 Phil. 21, 40 (1995).
[15] Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra note 9 at 677.
[16] Rollo, pp. 111-113.
[17] Supra note 9 at 669 & 674.
[18] 377 Phil. 919, 931 (1999).
[19] Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco, G.R. No. 158896, October 27, 2004, 441 SCRA 422, 439.
[20] Republic v. Iyoy, G.R. No. 152577, September 21, 2005, 470 SCRA 508, 522.
[21] Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
(1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians;
(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so;
(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding Chapter;
(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;
(5) Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other; and
(6) Those subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53.
[22] Art. 37. Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:
(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and
(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood.
[23] Art. 38. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:
(1) Between collateral blood relatives, whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
(2) Between step-parents and step-children;
(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;
(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;
(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;
(8) Between the adopted children of the same adopter; and
(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person’s spouse or his or her own spouse.
[24] Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.

[25] Art. 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:

(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;

(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or

(6) That either party was inflicted with a sexually-transmitted disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.

[26] Concurring Opinion of Justice Jose C. Vitug in Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra note 9 at 690.
[27] Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco, supra note 19 at 439.
[28] Marcos v. Marcos, supra note 13.

Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

Chi Ming Tsoi vs CA and Gina Lao-Tsoi -Psychological Incapacity, Family Code, Legal Medicine

TORRES, JR., J.:

Man has not invented a reliable compass by which to steer a marriage in its journey over troubled waters. Laws are seemingly inadequate. Over time, much reliance has been placed in the works of the unseen hand of Him who created all things.

Who is to blame when a marriage fails?

This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch 89) which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner appealed the decision of the trial court to respondent Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 42758) which affirmed the Trial Court’s decision November 29, 1994 and correspondingly denied the motion for reconsideration in a resolution dated February 14, 1995.

The statement of the case and of the facts made by the trial court and reproduced by the Court of Appeals[1] its decision are as follows:

From the evidence adduced, the following acts were preponderantly established:

Sometime on May 22, 1988, the plaintiff married the defendant at the Manila Cathedral, . . . Intramuros Manila, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract. (Exh. “A”)

After the celebration of their marriage and wedding reception at the South Villa, Makati, they went and proceeded to the house of defendant’s mother.

There, they slept together on the same bed in the same room for the first night of their married life.

It is the version of the plaintiff, that contrary to her expectations, that as newlyweds they were supposed to enjoy making love, or having sexual intercourse, with each other, the defendant just went to bed, slept on one side thereof, then turned his back and went to sleep. There was no sexual intercourse between them during the first night. The same thing happened on the second, third and fourth nights.

In an effort to have their honeymoon in a private place where they can enjoy together during their first week as husband and wife, they went to Baguio City. But, they did so together with her mother, an uncle, his mother and his nephew. They were all invited by the defendant to join them. [T]hey stayed in Baguio City for four (4) days. But, during this period, there was no sexual intercourse between them, since the defendant avoided her by taking a long walk during siesta time or by just sleeping on a rocking chair located at the living room. They slept together in the same room and on the same bed since May 22, 1988 until March 15, 1989. But during this period, there was no attempt of sexual intercourse between them. [S]he claims, that she did not: even see her husband’s private parts nor did he see hers.

Because of this, they submitted themselves for medical examinations to Dr. Eufemio Macalalag, a urologist at the Chinese General Hospital, on January 20, 1989.

The results of their physical examinations were that she is healthy, normal and still a virgin, while that of her husband’s examination was kept confidential up to this time. While no medicine was prescribed for her, the doctor prescribed medications for her husband which was also kept confidential. No treatment was given to her. For her husband, he was asked by the doctor to return but he never did.

The plaintiff claims, that the defendant is impotent, a closet homosexual as he did not show his penis. She said, that she had observed the defendant using an eyebrow pencil and sometimes the cleansing cream of his mother. And that, according to her, the defendant married her, a Filipino citizen, to acquire or maintain his residency status here in the country and to publicly maintain the appearance of a normal man.

The plaintiff is not willing to reconcile with her husband.

On the other hand, it is the claim of the defendant that if their marriage shall be annulled by reason of psychological incapacity, the fault lies with his wife.

But, he said that he does not want his marriage with his wife annulled for several reasons, viz: (1) that he loves her very much; (2) that he has no defect on his part and he is physically and psychologically capable; and, (3) since the relationship is still very young and if there is any differences between the two of them, it can still be reconciled and that, according to him, if either one of them has some incapabilities, there is no certainty that this will not be cured. He further claims, that if there is any defect, it can be cured by the intervention of medical technology or science.

The defendant admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual contact between them. But, the reason for this, according to the defendant, was that everytime he wants to have sexual intercourse with his wife, she always avoided him and whenever he caresses her private parts, she always removed his hands. The defendant claims, that he forced his wife to have sex with him only once but he did not continue because she was shaking and she did not like it. So he stopped.

There are two (2) reasons, according to the defendant , why the plaintiff filed this case against him, and these are: (1) that she is afraid that she will be forced to return the pieces of jewelry of his mother, and, (2) that her husband, the defendant, will consummate their marriage.

The defendant insisted that their marriage will remain valid because they are still very young and there is still a chance to overcome their differences.

The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent . As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor’s Medical Report. (Exh. “2”). It is stated there, that there is no evidence of impotency (Exh. “2-B”), and he is capable of erection. (Exh. “2-C”)

The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, still is capable of further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having sexual intercourse with a woman.

In open Court, the Trial Prosecutor manifested that there is no collusion between the parties and that the evidence is not fabricated.”[2]

After trial, the court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID the marriage entered into by the plaintiff with the defendant on May 22, 1988 at the Manila Cathedral, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Intramuros, Manila, before the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Melencio de Vera. Without costs. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City. Let another copy be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner alleges that the respondent Court of Appeals erred:

I

in affirming the conclusions of the lower court that there was no sexual intercourse between the parties without making any findings of fact.

II

in holding that the refusal of private respondent to have sexual communion with petitioner is a psychological incapacity inasmuch as proof thereof is totally absent.

III

in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both.

IV

in affirming the annulment of the marriage between the parties decreed by the lower court without fully satisfying itself that there was no collusion between them.

We find the petition to be bereft of merit.

Petitioner contends that being the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-89-3141, private respondent has the burden of proving the allegations in her complaint; that since there was no independent evidence to prove the alleged non-coitus between the parties, there remains no other basis for the court’s conclusion except the admission of petitioner; that public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriage and should retard acts intended to invalidate them; that the conclusion drawn by the trial court on the admissions and confessions of the parties in their pleadings and in the course of the trial is misplaced since it could have been a product of collusion; and that in actions for annulment of marriage, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.[3]

Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court reads:

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. — Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party’s pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.

The foregoing provision pertains to a judgment on the pleadings. What said provision seeks to prevent is annulment of marriage without trial. The assailed decision was not based on such a judgment on the pleadings. When private respondent testified under oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in form of a testimony. After such evidence was presented, it be came incumbent upon petitioner to present his side. He admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual intercourse between them.

To prevent collusion between the parties is the reason why, as stated by the petitioner, the Civil Code provides that no judgment annulling a marriage shall be promulgated upon a stipulation of facts or by confession of judgment (Arts. 88 and 101[par. 2]) and the Rules of Court prohibit such annulment without trial (Sec. 1, Rule 19).

The case has reached this Court because petitioner does not want their marriage to be annulled. This only shows that there is no collusion between the parties. When petitioner admitted that he and his wife (private respondent) have never had sexual contact with each other, he must have been only telling the truth. We are reproducing the relevant portion of the challenged resolution denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration, penned with magisterial lucidity by Associate Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, viz:

The judgment of the trial court which was affirmed by this Court is not based on a stipulation of facts. The issue of whether or not the appellant is psychologically incapacitated to discharge a basic marital obligation was resolved upon a review of both the documentary and testimonial evidence on record. Appellant admitted that he did not have sexual relations with his wife after almost ten months of cohabitation, and it appears that he is not suffering from any physical disability. Such abnormal reluctance or unwillingness to consummate his marriage is strongly indicative of a serious personality disorder which to the mind of this Court clearly demonstrates an ‘utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage’ within the meaning of Article 36 of the Family Code (See Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995).[4]

Petitioner further contends that respondent court erred in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both. He points out as error the failure of the trial court to make “a categorical finding about the alleged psychological incapacity and an in-depth analysis of the reasons for such refusal which may not be necessarily due to physchological disorders” because there might have been other reasons, — i.e., physical disorders, such as aches, pains or other discomforts, — why private respondent would not want to have sexual intercourse from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989, in a short span of 10 months.

First, it must be stated that neither the trial court nor the respondent court made a finding on who between petitioner and private respondent refuses to have sexual contact with the other. The fact remains, however, that there has never been coitus between them. At any rate, since the action to declare the marriage void may be filed by either party, i.e., even the psychologically incapacitated, the question of who refuses to have sex with the other becomes immaterial.

Petitioner claims that there is no independent evidence on record to show that any of the parties is suffering from phychological incapacity. Petitioner also claims that he wanted to have sex with private respondent; that the reason for private respondent’s refusal may not be psychological but physical disorder as stated above.

We do not agree. Assuming it to be so, petitioner could have discussed with private respondent or asked her what is ailing her, and why she balks and avoids him everytime he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. He never did. At least, there is nothing in the record to show that he had tried to find out or discover what the problem with his wife could be. What he presented in evidence is his doctor’s Medical Report that there is no evidence of his impotency and he is capable of erection.[5] Since it is petitioner’s claim that the reason is not psychological but perhaps physical disorder on the part of private respondent, it became incumbent upon him to prove such a claim.

If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.[6]

Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is “To procreate children based on the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of marriage.” Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will finally destroy the integrity or wholeness of the marriage. In the case at bar, the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity.

As aptly stated by the respondent court,

An examination of the evidence convinces Us that the husband’s plea that the wife did not want carnal intercourse with him does not inspire belief. Since he was not physically impotent, but he refrained from sexual intercourse during the entire time (from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989) that he occupied the same bed with his wife, purely out of symphaty for her feelings, he deserves to be doubted for not having asserted his right seven though she balked (Tompkins vs. Tompkins, 111 Atl. 599, cited in I Paras, Civil Code, at p. 330). Besides, if it were true that it is the wife was suffering from incapacity, the fact that defendant did not go to court and seek the declaration of nullity weakens his claim. This case was instituted by the wife whose normal expectations of her marriage were frustrated by her husband’s inadequacy. Considering the innate modesty of the Filipino woman, it is hard to believe that she would expose her private life to public scrutiny and fabricate testimony against her husband if it were not necessary to put her life in order and put to rest her marital status.

We are not impressed by defendant’s claim that what the evidence proved is the unwillingness or lack of intention to perform the sexual act, which is not phychological incapacity, and which can be achieved “through proper motivation.” After almost ten months of cohabitation, the admission that the husband is reluctant or unwilling to perform the sexual act with his wife whom he professes to love very dearly, and who has not posed any insurmountable resistance to his alleged approaches, is indicative of a hopeless situation, and of a serious personality disorder that constitutes psychological incapacity to discharge the basic marital covenants within the contemplation of the Family Code.[7]

While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity (Art. 68, Family Code), the sanction therefor is actually the “spontaneous, mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order” (Cuaderno vs. Cuaderno 120 Phil. 1298). Love is useless unless it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an island, the cruelest act of a partner in marriage is to say “I could not have cared less.” This is so because an ungiven self is an unfulfilled self. The egoist has nothing but himself. In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.

It appears that there is absence of empathy between petitioner and private respondent. That is — a shared feeling which between husband and wife must be experienced not only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each other’s feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.

This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the studied judgment of respondent appellate court.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES , the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 29, 1994 is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects and the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Regalado, Romero, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

[1] Thirteenth Division: Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, J., ponente, Eduardo G. Montenegro and Antonio P. Solano, JJ., concurring.
[2] Rollo, pp. 20-24.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Rollo, p. 34.
[5] Exhs. “2”, “2-B” and “2-C”.
[6] Psychological Incapacity, G.T. Veloso, p. 20, cited in The Family Code of the Philippines Annotated, Pineda, 1989 ed., p. 51.
[7] Decision, pp. 11-12; Rollo, pp. 30-31.

Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

Villalon and Villalon vs Chan – Psychological Incapacity, Family Code, Legal Medicine

D E C I S I O N

BRION, J.:

We review in this petition for review on certiorari1 the July 30, 2010 decision2 and April 8, 2011 resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. SP No. 93807. The CA annulled and set aside the March 3, 2006 resolution4 and September 5, 2006 order5 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 74, Antipolo City, which disallowed the private offended party’s counsel from participating in the prosecution of the petitioners for bigamy and dismissed the bigamy case filed against the petitioners, respectively.

Factual Antecedents

On May 6, 1954, the respondent Amelia Chan married Leon Basilio Chua in a civil ceremony solemnized by then Judge Cancio C. Garcia of the City Court of Caloocan. The respondent claimed that her husband Leon Basilio Chua and the present petitioner, Leonardo A. Villalon, are one and the same person.

During the subsistence of his marriage to Amelia, Leon Basilio Chua, this time under the name of Leonardo A. Villalon, allegedly contracted a second marriage with Erlinda Talde that took place on June 2, 1993. This marriage was solemnized by Judge Ruth C. Santos of the Municipal Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal.

Amelia, who was then living in the United States and could not personally file a case for bigamy in the Philippines, requested Benito Yao Chua and Wilson Go to commence the criminal proceedings against the petitioners. On September 13, 2003, a verified complaint-affidavit6 alleging the commission of the crime of bigamy was filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor in Antipolo. Consequently, an Information7 was filed with the RTC, docketed as Criminal Case No. 05-30485. On arraignment, the petitioners pleaded not guilty.

During the pre-trial (or on February 6, 2006), Atty. Apollo V. Atencia appeared in behalf of Amelia, the private offended party. On February 20, 2006, Atty. Atencia formally filed his entry of appearance8 as private prosecutor, with the conformity and under the control and supervision of Assistant City Prosecutor Gerardo P. Barot.

Leonardo filed an omnibus motion9 with the RTC seeking to disqualify Atty. Atencia. He argued that Amelia could not be represented in the bigamy case because she was not a party to the case, as she did not file the complaint-affidavit. He also argued that Amelia had already waived her right to file a civil and criminal case against him and his co-defendant Erlinda. Amelia opposed the omnibus motion,10 while the public prosecutor joined the petitioners in disqualifying Atty. Atencia from appearing in the case.11

In a resolution[12] dated March 3, 2006, the RTC granted Leonardo’s omnibus motion. Trial of the case ensued thereafter.

On March 27, 2006, Amelia filed a petition[13] for certiorari and prohibition, with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, with the CA. In a resolution14 dated April 19, 2006, the CA issued a TRO enjoining further proceedings on the case.

Despite the TRO issued by the CA, trial of the bigamy case proceeded with the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence, to which Leonardo filed a demurrer to evidence. In an order15 dated September 5, 2006, the RTC dismissed the bigamy case for failure of the prosecution to prove the petitioners’ guilt.

Petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA

In her petition for certiorari and prohibition before the CA, Amelia alleged grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC when it issued its March 3, 2006 resolution and proceeded with the bigamy case without permitting the participation of Atty. Atencia as private prosecutor.

In a decision[16] dated July 30, 2010, the CA granted Amelia’s petition and annulled the RTC’s March 3, 2006 resolution disqualifying Atty. Atencia from participation in the case, and its September 5, 2006 order that dismissed the bigamy case against the petitioners. The CA ruled that the crime of bigamy, being public in nature, can be denounced by anyone, not only by the offended party, before the prosecuting authorities without the offended party losing her right to recover damages. Thus, the CA concluded that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it did not allow Atty. Atencia to intervene and represent Amelia in the bigamy case and that the trial court denied Amelia her right to due process.

Also, the CA ruled that the offended party could be deprived of the right to intervene in the criminal case only when he or she expressly waives the civil action or reserves the right to institute one. The CA found no such waiver from Amelia and held that Atty. Atencia’s appearance as private prosecutor was proof enough of Amelia’s determination to enforce her claim for damages in the bigamy case.

The CA disposed of the certiorari petition under these terms:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolution dated 3 March 2006 disqualifying Petitioner’s counsel to intervene and the Order dated 5 September 2006 dismissing Criminal Case No. 05-30485 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Public respondent is hereby inhibited from further hearing the case. This case is therefore REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City for RE-RAFFLE to another branch and for further proceedings. The trial court and public prosecutor are ORDERED to allow the private prosecutor subject to the latter’s control and supervision to intervene in the proceedings in order to protect the interests of Petitioner as a complaining witness.

SO ORDERED.[17]

Petition for review on certiorari with this Court

With the denial of their motion for reconsideration[18] before the CA, the petitioners filed the present petition for review on certiorari before this Court and raised the following arguments:

A. The Decision of the Court of Appeals gravely transgresses the petitioners’ constitutional right to due process of law, apart from being violative of the legal proscription against double jeopardy.

B. The Court of Appeals grossly erred in granting the petition for certiorari insofar as the Resolution, dated 3 March 2006, of therein respondent Judge was concerned.

C. The petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 93907 is fatally defective in that, among other things, it failed to implead the People of the Philippines as a party-respondent in that case, hence, the same should have been dismissed outright.[19]

Our Ruling

We find no merit in the petitioners’ arguments.

First, the petitioners argue that the RTC’s September 5, 2006 order dismissing the bigamy case against them had already become final because it was not assailed by the respondent in her petition for certiorari before the CA. The petitioners point out that the respondent only particularly assailed the RTC’s March 3, 2006 resolution and failed to file a separate or amended petition for certiorari to include the September 5, 2006 order as one of the assailed orders of the RTC. Based on this assertion, the petitioners contend that the CA, in ordering the remand and re-raffle of the bigamy case to another RTC branch, violates their right against double jeopardy.

The petitioners are mistaken. The review by the CA on whether the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion encompassed, not only the issuance of the March 3, 2006 resolution,but all proceedings in the bigamy case thereafter. This is apparent from the words used by the respondent in her certiorari petition before the CA where she raised the following supporting grounds:

  1. THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE QUESTIONED RESOLUTION DATED 03 MARCH 2006 IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. 05-30485 WHICH HELD THAT NO CLAIM FOR CIVIL LIABILITY WAS DEEMED INSTITUTED IN THE CRIMINAL CASE, AND CONSEQUENTLY DISQUALIFYING THE OFFENDED PARTY’S COUNSEL FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE TRIAL OF THE CASE;
  2. THE HEARINGS OF THE BIGAMY CASE WHEREIN THE PARTICIPATION OF THE PRIVATE PROSECUTOR IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED ARE WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION.20 (Emphasis ours)

Evidently, the CA’s review is not limited to the RTC’s March 3, 2006 resolution but also included the September 5, 2006 order that was issued by the RTC in the course of the proceedings on the bigamy case. Thus, the RTC’s September 5, 2006 order, which is still the subject of review by this Court, has not attained finality and the CA’s assailed order of remanding and re-raffling the bigamy case to another trial court would not violate the petitioners’ right against double jeopardy.

Also, we emphasize that the RTC issued its September 5, 2006 order in defiance of the TRO issued by the CA. The records show that the CA had issued a TRO on April 19, 2006, which should have prohibited the RTC from further proceeding on the case. But the RTC, instead, continued with the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence and issued the assailed September 5, 2006 order.

Under this circumstance, the RTC’s September 5, 2006 order was actually without force and effect and would not serve as basis for the petitioners to claim that their right against double jeopardy had been violated. The RTC, clearly, acted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing its September 5, 2006 order in view of the earlier TRO issued by the CA.

Second, the petitioners argue that the CA gravely erred when it ruled that: the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its March 3, 2006 resolution disqualifying Atty. Atencia as private prosecutor, and that Atty. Atencia’s disqualification violated the respondent’s rights to intervene and be heard in the bigamy case. They contend that, even with Atty. Atencia’s disqualification, the respondent was never denied her right to participate in the proceedings and was even called to stand as a witness but the respondent never appeared before the court because she was out of the country during the whole proceedings on the bigamy case.

Section 16[21] of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure[22] expressly allows an offended party to intervene by counsel in the prosecution of the offense for the recovery of civil liability where the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged is instituted with the criminal action. The civil action shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action, except when the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.[23]

In this case, the CA found no such waiver from or reservation made by the respondent. The fact that the respondent, who was already based abroad, had secured the services of an attorney in the Philippines reveals her willingness and interest to participate in the prosecution of the bigamy case and to recover civil liability from the petitioners. Thus, the RTC should have allowed, and should not have disqualified, Atty. Atencia from intervening in the bigamy case as the respondent, being the offended party, is afforded by law the right to participate through counsel in the prosecution of the offense with respect to the civil aspect of the case.

Lastly, the petitioners argue that the respondent’s certiorari petition before the CA should have been dismissed outright because it failed to implead the “People of the Philippines” as a party-respondent.

The respondent’s failure to implead the “People of the Philippines” as a party-respondent is not a fatal defect warranting the outright dismissal of her petition for certiorari and prohibition before the CA because: (1) a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 is directed against any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions alleged to have acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction;24 and (2) the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by the respondent is a special civil action separate and independent from the bigamy case filed against the petitioners. For these reasons, the “People of the Philippines” need not be impleaded as a party in a petition for certiorari and prohibition.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we DENY the present petition for review on certiorari due to lack of merit, and hereby AFFIRM the decision dated July 30, 2010 and resolution dated April 8, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93807.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice

A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
[1] Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; rollo, pp. 7-28.
[2] Penned by CA Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta, with Associate Justices Vicente S.E. Veloso and Samuel H. Gaerlan, concurring; rollo, pp. 32-47.
[3] Rollo, p. 48-50.
[4] Id. at 100-104.
[5] Id. at 138-143.
[6] Id. at 105-107.
[7] Id. at 108-109.
[8] Id. at 112-113.
[9] Id. at 114-120.
[10] In an Opposition dated February 27, 2006; id. at 121-125.
[11] In a Comment to the Omnibus Motion dated February 22, 2006; id. at 126-127.
[12] See note 4.
[13] Rollo, pp. 68-95.
[14] Id. at 134-137.
[15] See note 5.
[16] See note 2.
[17] Rollo, p. 46.
[18] Id. at 144-158.
[19] Id. at 14-27.
[20] Id. at 77.
[21] SEC. 16. Intervention of the offended party in criminal action – Where the civil action for recovery of civil liability is instituted in the criminal action pursuant to Rule 111, the offended party may intervene by counsel in the prosecution of the offense
[22] Effective December 1, 2000, A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC.
[23] Section 1, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
[24] See Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 65, Rules of Court.

Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

Navarro vs Navarro – Psychological Incapacity, Family Code, Legal Medicine

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 162049
April 13, 2007

NARCISO S. NAVARRO, JR., Petitioner, vs. CYNTHIA CECILIO-NAVARRO, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the Decision[1] dated January 8, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 65677, reversing the Regional Trial Court’s declaration of nullity of the marriage of petitioner and respondent. Likewise assailed is the Court of Appeals’ Resolution dated February 4, 2004 denying reconsideration.

In Civil Case No. 94-70727, filed by petitioner Narciso Navarro, Jr. with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37, he sought the declaration of nullity of his marriage to respondent.

As culled from the records, the facts of the case are as follows:

Petitioner and respondent were college sweethearts. At the time they got married, both in civil and church ceremonies, they were awaiting their first child. Since petitioner was still a medical student, while respondent was a student of pharmacy, they lived with petitioner’s parents, on whom they were financially dependent. Eventually, their union bore four children.

Petitioner alleged that respondent constantly complained that he didn’t have time for her; and that she constantly quarreled with him even before marriage when he could not give her the things she wanted. He added that she was not supportive of his career. Even marriage counseling did not work. Petitioner stated that when they quarreled, she refused to have sex with him and even told him to look for other women. He filed the petition for nullification of their marriage when he found out their eldest daughter had been made pregnant by a man whom respondent hired to follow him.

Abdona T. de Castro, a marriage counselor duly accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, testified that when petitioner saw her on April 6, 1994, he was distraught, harassed, and unhappy. She concluded from meetings with the petitioner that the marriage was dysfunctional, destructive, and reconciliation was out of the question since he claims he would go insane if he were to go back to his wife. Relying on the view of another expert, one Dr. Gerardo Velasco, witness de Castro opined that professionals are per se incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage because they spend a lot of time in the pursuit of their profession and have very little time to spend with their family. She concluded that respondent was also psychologically incapacitated to perform the marital obligations because she knew, from the start, that her husband was going to be a doctor, yet she did not give him the support and understanding that was expected of a doctor’s wife.

Lilia Tayco, the housemaid of petitioner’s parents also testified that petitioner and respondent were always quarreling because respondent was always jealous of petitioner’s classmates.

A psychologist, Dr. Natividad Dayan, who conducted a psychiatric test on petitioner, testified that tests showed that petitioner was a perfectionist, short-tempered, critical, argumentative and irritable when people do not meet his expectations. He married Cynthia only after he got her pregnant. He had depressions and tended to escapism when beset with problems. He was vocal about his marital problems. He believed that the lack of communication, absence of quality time, inadequacy in problem-solving, and many problems caused the failure of the marriage.

For her part, respondent refused to submit to the psychiatric examination asked by the petitioner, but said she would do so only when her defense requires it. She averred that she had no marital problems, not until petitioner had an illicit affair with a certain Dr. Lucila Posadas. Petitioner denied the affair. Respondent narrated that early 1984, she caught petitioner and Lucila inside the Harana Motel in Sta. Mesa where a confrontation ensued. After the incident, petitioner seldom went home until he permanently left his family sometime in 1986. Respondent claimed petitioner and Lucila continued to see each other and had gone abroad together several times. She explained that she uttered she would not make love with her husband and dared him to look for other women only out of frustration and anger upon discovery of the affair. She admitted hiring someone to spy on petitioner, but added that she still loved her husband.

Cynthia’s friend since high school, Miraflor Respicio testified that Cynthia was a good, stable, and mature person; that she was a loving and caring mother who gave up her career to take care of her children; and that petitioner and respondent were happy during the early days of the marriage.

On August 21, 1998, the trial court held that petitioner and respondent were both psychologically incapacitated to perform their marital obligations. The dispositive portion of the court’s decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the marriage between the parties is (sic) dated June 2, 1973 is hereby declared null and void with the following effects:

  1. The Plaintiff is hereby directed to support his children with the Defendant in the amount of forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) a month, which sum shall be payable on or before the 5th day of each month, effective September, 1998;
  2. The parties are hereby disqualified from inheriting from each other by way of testate or intestate succession;
  3. Either of the parties may revoke the designation of the other as beneficiary in a life insurance policy;
  4. The parties’ children are hereby declared legitimate, and the custody of the parties’ minor children is hereby awarded to the Defendant with the Plaintiff exercising his right to visit them at least once a week;
  5. The properties in the name of the parties consisting of a house and lot located at 15 Bronze Street, Filinvest, Quezon City are hereby deemed as their advance legitime to their children.

SO ORDERED.[2]

Respondent appealed the case to the Court of Appeals. She averred that the trial court erred when it annulled their marriage instead of decreeing their legal separation, with the ruling that petitioner was the guilty spouse.

In a Decision dated January 8, 2003, the Court of Appeals held that the constant arguments, bickerings and conflicts between the spouses did not constitute psychological incapacity. It ruled that petitioner failed to show that any psychological incapacity in either of the two parties existed at the time of the celebration of marriage. The appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and declared that the marriage still subsists.

Petitioner now comes before us raising the following as issues:

(1) Are the decision and resolution of the Honorable Court of Appeals proper subject for review by the Honorable Court under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure?

(2) Is the conclusion of the Honorable Court of Appeals – that the lower court (RTC) erred in finding the parties (petitioner and respondent) both psychologically incapacitated under Article 36 of The Family Code – correct or not?

(3) Is the conclusion of the Honorable Court of Appeals – that the evidence failed to show that the parties (petitioner and respondent) were completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of marriage – correct or not? and

(4) Which is more in accord with existing law and settled jurisprudence, the decision of the Court of Appeals or the decision of the trial court?[3]

Simply stated, the issue before us is whether the marriage is void on the ground of the parties’ psychological incapacity.

Petitioner contends that the decision of the trial court was well-founded, based on the evidence indicating that the marriage was beyond reconciliation, and allowing the marriage to subsist would only prolong the spouses’ agony. Respondent counters that petitioner failed to prove psychological incapacity, and that their psychological incapacities existed as early as the time of the celebration of their marriage.

We shall now resolve the issue.

Article 36 of the Family Code states:

A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

In addition, as early as 1995, in Santos v. Court of Appeals,[4] we categorically said that psychological incapacity required by Art. 36 must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. Psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage. These include the obligations to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.[5]

We likewise have repeatedly reminded that the intention of the law is to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.[6] In Republic v. Court of Appeals,[7] the Court gave the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 which are as follows:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity…

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision…

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable…

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage…

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts…

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition…[8]

In the present case, the spouses’ frequent squabbles and respondent’s refusal to sleep with petitioner and be supportive to him do not constitute psychological incapacity. The records show that petitioner and respondent were living in harmony in the first few years of their marriage, which bore them four children. Psychological incapacity must be more than just a “difficulty,” “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations,[9] it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological illness[10] existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage.

It will be noted that respondent did not undergo psychological tests. Witness de Castro’s diagnosis was based solely on petitioner’s avowals and not on personal knowledge of the spouses’ relationship. Hence, de Castro’s diagnosis is based on hearsay and has no probative value.[11]

Further, de Castro’s statement that professionals are per se incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage because their profession allows them little time for family life is highly debatable.

Lastly, petitioner failed to show that grave and incurable incapacity, on the part of both spouses, existed at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Their bickerings and arguments even before their marriage and respondent’s scandalous outbursts in public, at most, show their immaturity, and immaturity does not constitute psychological incapacity.[12] Thus so far, both petitioner and respondent have not shown proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor, an adverse integral element in their personality structure that effectively incapacitates them from accepting and complying with the obligations essential to marriage.[13]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated January 8, 2003 and the Resolution dated February 4, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 65677 are hereby AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Asscociate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice

A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes

[1] Rollo, pp. 45-51. Penned by Associate Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion with Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Sergio L. Pestaño concurring.
[2] Id. at 74-75.
[3] Id. at 24.
[4] G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20, 33.
[5] Family code, Art. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.
[6] Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126010, December 8, 1999, 320 SCRA 76, 86.
[7] G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198.
[8] Id. at 209-213.
[9] Choa v. Choa, G.R. No. 143376, November 26, 2002, 392 SCRA 641, 651.
[10] Supra note 7, at 207.
[11] Supra note 9, at 655-656, citing The City Government of Davao v. Monteverde-Consunji, G.R. No. 136825, May 21, 2001, 358 SCRA 107, 114.
[12] Supra note 9, at 650.
[13] Republic v. Quintero-Hamano, G.R. No. 149498, May 20, 2004, 428 SCRA 735, 743.

Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

RP vs CA and Roridel Molina – Psychological Incapacity, Family Code, Legal Medicine

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Family Code of the Philippines provides an entirely new ground (in addition to those enumerated in the Civil Code) to assail the validity of a marriage, namely, “psychological incapacity.” Since the Code’s effectivity, our courts have been swamped with various petitions to declare marriages void based on this ground. Although this Court had interpreted the meaning of psychological incapacity in the recent case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals, still many judges and lawyers find difficulty in applying said novel provision in specific cases. In the present case and in the context of the herein assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, the Solicitor General has labelled — exaggerated to be sure but nonetheless expressive of his frustration — Article 36 as the “most liberal divorce procedure in the world.” Hence, this Court in addition to resolving the present case, finds the need to lay down specific guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code.

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 challenging the January 25, 1993 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 34858 affirming in toto the May 14, 1991 decision of the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad,3 Benguet, which declared the marriage of respondent Roridel Olaviano Molina to Reynaldo Molina void ab initio, on the ground of “psychological incapacity” under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The Facts

This case was commenced on August 16, 1990 with the filing by respondent Roridel O. Molina of a verified petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina. Essentially, the petition alleged that Roridel and Reynaldo were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church4 in Manila; that a son, Andre O. Molina was born; that after a year of marriage, Reynaldo showed signs of “immaturity and irresponsibility” as a husband and a father since he preferred to spend more time with his peers and friends on whom he squandered his money; that he depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was never honest with his wife in regard to their finances, resulting in frequent quarrels between them; that sometime in February 1986, Reynaldo was relieved of his job in Manila, and since then Roridel had been the sole breadwinner of the family; that in October 1986 the couple had a very intense quarrel, as a result of which their relationship was estranged; that in March 1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and went to live with her parents in Baguio City; that a few weeks later, Reynaldo left Roridel and their child, and had since then abandoned them; that Reynaldo had thus shown that he was psychologically incapable of complying with essential marital obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrel some individual who thought of himself as a king to be served; and that it would be to the couple’s best interest to have their marriage declared null and void in order to free them from what appeared to be an incompatible marriage from the start.

In his Answer filed on August 28, 1989, Reynaldo admitted that he and Roridel could no longer live together as husband and wife, but contended that their misunderstandings and frequent quarrels were due to (1) Roridel’s strange behavior of insisting on maintaining her group of friends even after their marriage; (2) Roridel’s refusal to perform some of her marital duties such as cooking meals; and (3) Roridel’s failure to run the household and handle their finances.

During the pre-trial on October 17, 1990, the following were stipulated:

  1. That the parties herein were legally married on April 14, 1985 at the Church of St. Augustine, Manila;
  2. That out of their marriage, a child named Albert Andre Olaviano Molina was born on July 29, 1986;
  3. That the parties are separated-in-fact for more than three years;
  4. That petitioner is not asking support for her and her child;
  5. That the respondent is not asking for damages;
  6. That the common child of the parties is in the custody of the petitioner wife.

Evidence for herein respondent wife consisted of her own testimony and that of her friends Rosemarie Ventura and Maria Leonora Padilla as well as of Ruth G. Lalas, a social worker, and of Dr. Teresita Hidalgo-Sison, a psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She also submitted documents marked as Exhibits “A” to “E-1.” Reynaldo did not present any evidence as he appeared only during the pre-trial conference.

On May 14, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the marriage void. The appeal of petitioner was denied by the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the RTC’s decision. Hence, the present recourse.

The Issue

In his petition, the Solicitor General insists that “the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and incorrect interpretation of the phrase ‘psychological incapacity’ (as provided under Art. 36 of the Family Code) and made an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case,” adding that the appealed Decision tended “to establish in effect the most liberal divorce procedure in the world which is anathema to our culture.”

In denying the Solicitor General’s appeal, the respondent Court relied5 heavily on the trial court’s findings “that the marriage between the parties broke up because of their opposing and conflicting personalities.” Then, it added it sown opinion that “the Civil Code Revision Committee (hereinafter referred to as Committee) intended to liberalize the application of our civil laws on personal and family rights. . . .”

It concluded that:

As ground for annulment of marriage, We view psychologically incapacity as a broad range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse indicative of how he or she regards the marital union, his or her personal relationship with the other spouse, as well as his or her conduct in the long haul for the attainment of the principal objectives of marriage. If said conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to cause the union to self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage, then there is enough reason to leave the spouses to their individual fates.

In the case at bar, We find that the trial judge committed no indiscretion in analyzing and deciding the instant case, as it did, hence, We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and conclusions thus made.

Respondent, in her Memorandum, adopts these discussions of the Court of Appeals.

The petitioner, on the other hand, argues that “opposing and conflicting personalities” is not equivalent to psychological incapacity, explaining that such ground “is not simply the neglect by the parties to the marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their psychological nature which renders them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.”

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

In Leouel Santos vs. Court of Appeals6 this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that “psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (nor physical) incapacity . . . and that (t)here is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of ‘psychological incapacity’ to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated.” Citing Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former presiding judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila,7 Justice Vitug wrote that “the psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.”

On the other hand, in the present case, there is no clear showing to us that the psychological defect spoken of is an incapacity. It appears to us to be more of a “difficulty,” if not outright “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations. Mere showing of “irreconciliable differences” and “conflicting personalities” in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (nor physical) illness.

The evidence adduced by respondent merely showed that she and her husband could nor get along with each other. There had been no showing of the gravity of the problem; neither its juridical antecedence nor its incurability. The expert testimony of Dr. Sison showed no incurable psychiatric disorder but only incompatibility, not psychological incapacity. Dr. Sison testified:8

COURT

Q: It is therefore the recommendation of the psychiatrist based on your findings that it is better for the Court to annul (sic) the marriage?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: There is no hope for the marriage?

A: There is no hope, the man is also living with another woman.

Q: Is it also the stand of the psychiatrist that the parties are psychologically unfit for each other but they are psychologically fit with other parties?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

The Court has no more questions.

In the case of Reynaldo, there is no showing that his alleged personality traits were constitutive of psychological incapacity existing at the time of marriage celebration. While some effort was made to prove that there was a failure to fulfill pre-nuptial impressions of “thoughtfulness and gentleness” on Reynaldo’s part of being “conservative, homely and intelligent” on the part of Roridel, such failure of expectation is nor indicative of antecedent psychological incapacity. If at all, it merely shows love’s temporary blindness to the faults and blemishes of the beloved.

During its deliberations, the Court decided to go beyond merely ruling on the facts of this case vis-a-vis existing law and jurisprudence. In view of the novelty of Art. 36 of the Family Code and the difficulty experienced by many trial courts interpreting and applying it, the Court decided to invite two amici curiae, namely, the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz,9 Vicar Judicial (Presiding Judge) of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, and Justice Ricardo C. Puno, 10 a member of the Family Code Revision Committee. The Court takes this occasion to thank these friends of the Court for their informative and interesting discussions during the oral argument on December 3, 1996, which they followed up with written memoranda.

From their submissions and the Court’s own deliberations, the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code are hereby handed down for the guidance of the bench and the bar:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, 11 recognizing it “as the foundation of the nation.” It decrees marriage as legally “inviolable,” thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state.

The Family Code 12 echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes the permanence, inviolability and solidarity

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological — not physical. although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, 13 nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature explained. Expert evidence may be given qualified psychiatrist and clinical psychologists.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their “I do’s.” The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, “mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts” cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, nor a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides:

The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature. 14

Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should be given to decision of such appellate tribunal. Ideally — subject to our law on evidence — what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void.

This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision, contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the Church — while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other — shall walk together in synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the inviolable base of the nation.

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall he handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly staring therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.

In the instant case and applying Leouel Santos, we have already ruled to grant the petition. Such ruling becomes even more cogent with the use of the foregoing guidelines.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage of Roridel Olaviano to Reynaldo Molina subsists and remains valid.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Regalado, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concurs in the result.

Categories
Family Code Psychological incapacity

Dedel vs CA and Dedel – Psychological Incapacity, Family Code, Legal Medicine

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 151867 January 29, 2004

DAVID B. DEDEL, Petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SHARON L. CORPUZ-DEDEL a.k.a. JANE IBRAHIM, Respondents.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Oppositor-Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel while he was working in the advertising business of his father. The acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations, culminating in the exchange of marital vows before the City Court of Pasay on September 28, 1966.[1] The civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding on May 20, 1967.[2]

The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on September 18, 1968;[3] Stephanie Janice born on September 9, 1969;[4] Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971;[5] and Ingrid born on October 20, 1976.[6] The conjugal partnership, nonetheless, acquired neither property nor debt.

Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature wife and mother. She had extra-marital affairs with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of the Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential Security Command and later a Jordanian national.

Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical psychiatrist. Petitioner alleged that despite the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit relationship with the Jordanian national named Mustafa Ibrahim, whom she married and with whom she had two children. However, when Mustafa Ibrahim left the country, Sharon returned to petitioner bringing along her two children by Ibrahim. Petitioner accepted her back and even considered the two illegitimate children as his own. Thereafter, on December 9, 1995, Sharon abandoned petitioner to join Ibrahim in Jordan with their two children. Since then, Sharon would only return to the country on special occasions.

Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition seeking the declaration of nullity of his marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 149. Summons was effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon, a newspaper of general circulation in the country considering that Sharon did not reside and could not be found in the Philippines.[7]

Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she conducted a psychological evaluation of petitioner and found him to be conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who wants all tasks and projects completed up to the final detail and who exerts his best in whatever he does.

On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering from Anti-Social Personality Disorder exhibited by her blatant display of infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and had no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her the two children of Mustafa Ibrahim to live with petitioner. Such immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like her repeated acts of infidelity and abandonment of her family are indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting to psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage.[8]

After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL and SHARON L. CORPUZ celebrated on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby declared null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of the respondent to perform the essential obligations of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between the parties is dissolved and in lieu thereof a regime of complete separation of property between the said spouses is established in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Family Code, without prejudice to rights previously acquired by creditors.

Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the Family Code.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed alleging that –

I

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A VALID GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL AND VOID.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED BY THE SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED IN THE MOLINA CASE.

The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered dismissal of the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.[10]

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated January 8, 2002.[11] Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its discretion and manifestly erred in its conclusion that the: (1) respondent was not suffering from psychological incapacity to perform her marital obligations; (2) psychological incapacity of respondent is not attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of evidence submitted by the petitioner falls short to prove psychological incapacity suffered by respondent.

The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of the evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding that respondent is psychologically incapacitated. More specifically, does the aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted to by petitioner fall within the term “psychological incapacity?”

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[12] it was ruled:

x x x “psychological incapacity” should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity of inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be “legitimate.”

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions, however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.

Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on the degree, extent and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.[13]

The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a personality disorder is a very complex and elusive phenomenon which defies easy analysis and definition. In this case, respondent’s sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that she could not have known the obligations she was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof.[14] It appears that respondent’s promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a blissful marital union at its celebration, later affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.

Respondent’s sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological incapacity.[15] It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity[16] or sexual promiscuity.

At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds for legal separation under Article 55[17] of the Family Code. However, we pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos[18] that Article 36 is not to be equated with legal separation in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. In short, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.

We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the church marriage of petitioner and respondent. The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with the Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic Church.

All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the appellate court. We cannot deny the grief, frustration and even desperation of petitioner in his present situation. Regrettably, there are circumstances, like in this case, where neither law nor society can provide the specific answers to every individual problem.[19] While we sympathize with petitioner’s marital predicament, our first and foremost duty is to apply the law no matter how harsh it may be.[20]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60406, which ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on official leave.

Footnotes

[1] Exhibits F and F-3.
[2] Exhibit F.
[3] Exhibit H.
[4] Exhibit I.
[5] Exhibit J.
[6] Exhibit K.
[7] Exhibits D to D-3.
[8] Exhibit L; Records pp. 57-78.
[9] Rollo, p. 49; penned by Presiding Judge Josefina Guevarra-Salonga (now an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals).
[10] Rollo, pp. 33-44; per Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr., with Associate Justices Martin S. Villarama, Jr. and Eliezer R. Delos Santos, concurring.
[11] Rollo, p. 45.
[12] 310 Phil. 21 (1995).
[13] Id., at 40-41.
[14] Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.
[15] Pesca v. Pesca, G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 588, 594.
[16] Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 87-88.
[17] ART. 55. – A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner;
(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years even if pardoned;
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage in the Philippines, whether in the Philippines or abroad;
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion.
(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
For purposes of this Article, the term ‘child’ shall include a child by nature or by adoption.
[18] G.R. No. 136490, 19 October 2000, 343 SCRA 755, 765.
[19] Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, p. 36.
[20] Pesca v. Pesca, supra.

Categories
2010 SC Decisions Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

Psychological Incapacity – Family Code of the Philippines – Articles 36 – Toring v. Toring – 2010 SC Decision – 8Lawyers.Com

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 165321
August 03, 2010

RICARDO P. TORING, PETITIONER, VS. TERESITA M. TORING AND REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

BRION, J.:

We resolve the appeal filed by petitioner Ricardo P. Toring from the May 31, 2004 decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 71882. The CA reversed the August 10, 2001 judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 106 of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-99-36662,[2] nullifying Ricardo’s marriage with respondent Teresita M. Toring on the ground of psychological incapacity.

THE FACTS

Ricardo was introduced to Teresita in 1978 at his aunt’s house in Cebu. Teresita was then his cousin’s teacher in Hawaiian dance and was conducting lessons at his aunt’s house. Despite their slight difference in age (of five years), the younger Ricardo found the dance teacher attractive and fell in love with her. He pursued Teresita and they became sweethearts after three months of courtship. They eloped soon after, hastened by the bid of another girlfriend, already pregnant, to get Ricardo to marry her.

Ricardo and Teresita were married on September 4, 1978 before Hon. Remigio Zari of the City Court of Quezon City. They begot three children: Richardson, Rachel Anne, and Ric Jayson.

On February 1, 1999, more than twenty years after their wedding, Ricardo filed a petition for annulment before the RTC. He claimed that Teresita was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage prior to, at the time of, and subsequent to the celebration of their marriage. He asked the court to declare his marriage to Teresita null and void.

At the trial, Ricardo offered in evidence their marriage contract; the psychological evaluation and signature of his expert witness, psychiatrist Dr. Cecilia R. Albaran, and his and Dr. Albaran’s respective testimonies. Teresita did not file any answer or opposition to the petition, nor did she testify to refute the allegations against her.[3]

Ricardo alleged in his petition and in his testimony at the trial that Teresita was an adulteress and a squanderer. He was an overseas seaman, and he regularly sent money to his wife to cover the family’s living expenses and their children’s tuition. Teresita, however, was not adept in managing the funds he sent and their finances. Many times, Ricardo would come home and be welcomed by debts incurred by his wife; he had to settle these to avoid embarrassment.

Aside from neglect in paying debts she incurred from other people, Teresita likewise failed to remit amounts she collected as sales agent of a plasticware and cosmetics company. She left the family’s utility bills and their children’s tuition fees unpaid. She also missed paying the rent and the amortization for the house that Ricardo acquired for the family, so their children had to live in a small rented room and eventually had to be taken in by Ricardo’s parents. When confronted by Ricardo, Teresita would simply offer the excuse that she spent the funds Ricardo sent to buy things for the house and for their children.

Ricardo likewise accused Teresita of infidelity and suspected that she was pregnant with another man’s child. During one of his visits to the country, he noticed that Teresita’s stomach was slightly bigger. He tried to convince her to have a medical examination but she refused. Her miscarriage five months into her pregnancy confirmed his worst suspicions. Ricardo alleged that the child could not have been his, as his three instances of sexual contact with Teresita were characterized by “withdrawals”; other than these, no other sexual contacts with his wife transpired, as he transferred and lived with his relatives after a month of living with Teresita in Cebu. Ricardo reported, too, of rumors that his wife represented herself to others as single, and went out on dates with other men when he was not around.

Ricardo opined that his wife was a very extravagant, materialistic, controlling and demanding person, who mostly had her way in everything; had a taste for the nightlife and was very averse to the duties of a housewife; was stubborn and independent, also most unsupportive, critical and uncooperative; was unresponsive to his hard work and sacrifices for their family; and was most painfully unmindful of him.[4] He believed that their marriage had broken down beyond repair and that they both have lost their mutual trust and love for one another.[5]

Dr. Cecilia R. Albaran testified that a major factor that contributed to the demise of the marriage was Teresita’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder that rendered her psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations. To quote Dr. Albaran:

Teresita, the respondent[,] has [sic] shown to manifest the following pervasive pattern of behaviors: a sense of entitlement as she expected favorable treatment and automatic compliance to her wishes, being interpersonally exploitative as on several occasions she took advantage of him to achieve her own ends, lack of empathy as she was unwilling to recognize her partners [sic] feelings and needs[,] taking into consideration her own feelings and needs only, her haughty and arrogant behavior and attitude and her proneness to blame others for her failures and shortcomings. These patterns of behavior speaks [sic] of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which started to manifest in early adulthood. The disorder is considered to be grave and incurable based on the fact that individuals do not recognize the symptoms as it is ego syntonic and they feel there is nothing wrong in them. Because of that[,] they remain unmotivated for treatment and impervious to recovery.[6]

She based her diagnosis on the information she gathered from her psychological evaluation on Ricardo and Richardson (Ricardo and Teresita’s eldest son). She admitted, though, that she did not personally observe and examine Teresita; she sent Teresita a personally-delivered notice for the conduct of a psychiatric evaluation, but the notice remained unanswered.

In opposing the petition for annulment, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contended that there was no basis to declare Teresita psychologically incapacitated. It asserted that the psychological evaluation conducted on Ricardo (and his son Richardson) only revealed a vague and general conclusion on these parties’ personality traits but not on Teresita’s psychological makeup. The OSG also argued that the evidence adduced did not clinically identify and sufficiently prove the medical cause of the alleged psychological incapacity. Neither did the evidence indicate that the alleged psychological incapacity existed prior to or at the time of marriage, nor that the incapacity was grave and incurable.

The RTC agreed with Ricardo, and annulled his marriage to Teresita. In short, the RTC believed Dr. Albaran’s psychological evaluation and testimony and, on the totality of Ricardo’s evidence, found Teresita to be psychologically incapacitated to assume the essential obligations of marriage. The OSG appealed the decision to the CA.

The CA reversed the RTC decision and held that the trial court’s findings did not satisfy the rules and guidelines set by this Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina.[7] The RTC failed to specifically point out the root illness or defect that caused Teresita’s psychological incapacity, and likewise failed to show that the incapacity already existed at the time of celebration of marriage.

The CA found that the conclusions from Dr. Albaran’s psychological evaluation do not appear to have been drawn from well-rounded and fair sources, and dwelt mostly on hearsay statements and rumors. Likewise, the CA found that Ricardo’s allegations on Teresita’s overspending and infidelity do not constitute adequate grounds for declaring the marriage null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code. These allegations, even if true, could only effectively serve as grounds for legal separation or a criminal charge for adultery.

THE PETITION AND THE PARTIES’ ARGUMENTS

Ricardo faults the CA for disregarding the factual findings of the trial court, particularly the expert testimony of Dr. Albaran, and submits that the trial court – in declaring the nullity of the marriage – fully complied with Molina.

In its Comment,[8] the OSG argued that the CA correctly reversed the RTC’s decision, particularly in its conclusion that Ricardo failed to comply with this Court’s guidelines for the proper interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code. Reiterating its earlier arguments below, the OSG asserts that the evidence adduced before the trial court failed to show the gravity, juridical antecedence, or incurability of the psychological incapacity of Teresita, and failed as well to identify and discuss its root cause. The psychiatrist, likewise, failed to show that Teresita was completely unable to discharge her marital obligations due to her alleged Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Ricardo’s Reply[9] reiterated that the RTC decision thoroughly discussed the root cause of Teresita’s psychological incapacity and identified it as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He claimed that sufficient proof had been adduced by the psychiatrist whose expertise on the subject cannot be doubted. Interestingly, Ricardo further argued that alleging the root cause in a petition for annulment under Article 36 of the Family Code is no longer necessary, citing Barcelona v. Court of Appeals.[10]

These positions were collated and reiterated in the memoranda the parties filed.

THE COURT’S RULING

We find the petition unmeritorious, as the CA committed no reversible error when it set aside the RTC’s decision for lack of legal and factual basis.

In the leading case of Santos v. Court of Appeals, et al.,[11] we held that psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability, to be sufficient basis to annul a marriage. The psychological incapacity should refer to “no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage.”[12]

We further expounded on Article 36 of the Family Code in Molina and laid down definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of this article. These guidelines incorporate the basic requirements of gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability established in the Santos case, as follows:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it “as the foundation of the nation.” It decrees marriage as legally “inviolable,” thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state.

The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological – not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis (Salita v. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, 108), nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

(3)The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their “I do’s.” The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, “mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts” cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.[13]

Subsequent jurisprudence on psychological incapacity applied these basic guidelines to varying factual situations, thus confirming the continuing doctrinal validity of Santos. In so far as the present factual situation is concerned, what should not be lost in reading and applying our established rulings is the intent of the law to confine the application of Article 36 of the Family Code to the most serious cases of personality disorders; these are the disorders that result in the utter insensitivity or inability of the afflicted party to give meaning and significance to the marriage he or she contracted. Furthermore, the psychological illness and its root cause must have been there from the inception of the marriage. From these requirements arise the concept that Article 36 of the Family Code does not really dissolve a marriage; it simply recognizes that there never was any marriage in the first place because the affliction – already then existing – was so grave and permanent as to deprive the afflicted party of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she was to assume or had assumed.[14]

In the present case and guided by these standards, we find the totality of the petitioner’s evidence to be insufficient to prove that Teresita was psychologically incapacitated to perform her duties as a wife. As already mentioned, the evidence presented consisted of the testimonies of Ricardo and Dr. Albaran, and the latter’s psychological evaluation of Ricardo and Richardson from where she derived a psychological evaluation of Teresita.

a. Dr. Albaran’s psychological evaluation and testimony

Dr. Albaran concluded in her psychological evaluation that Teresita suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder that rendered her psychologically incapacitated to assume essential marital obligations. To support her findings and conclusion, she banked on the statements told to her by Ricardo and Richardson, which she narrated in her evaluation. Apparently relying on the same basis, Dr. Albaran added that Teresita’s disorder manifested during her early adulthood and is grave and incurable.

To say the least, we are greatly disturbed by the kind of testimony and evaluation that, in this case, became the basis for the conclusion that no marriage really took place because of the psychological incapacity of one of the parties at the time of marriage.

We are in no way convinced that a mere narration of the statements of Ricardo and Richardson, coupled with the results of the psychological tests administered only on Ricardo, without more, already constitutes sufficient basis for the conclusion that Teresita suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This Court has long been negatively critical in considering psychological evaluations, presented in evidence, derived solely from one-sided sources, particularly from the spouse seeking the nullity of the marriage.

In So v. Valera,[15] the Court considered the psychologist’s testimony and conclusions to be insufficiently in-depth and comprehensive to warrant the finding of respondent’s psychological incapacity because the facts, on which the conclusions were based, were all derived from the petitioner’s statements whose bias in favor of his cause cannot be discounted. In another case, Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua,[16] the Court declared that while the various tests administered on the petitioner-wife could have been used as a fair gauge to assess her own psychological condition, this same statement could not be made with respect to the respondent-husband’s psychological condition. To our mind, conclusions and generalizations about Teresita’s psychological condition, based solely on information fed by Ricardo, are not any different in kind from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.[17]

To be sure, we have recognized that the law does not require that the allegedly incapacitated spouse be personally examined by a physician or by a psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.[18] This recognition, however, does not signify that the evidence, we shall favorably appreciate, should be any less than the evidence that an Article 36 case, by its nature, requires.

Our recognition simply means that the requirements for nullity outlined in Santos and Molina need not necessarily come from the allegedly incapacitated spouse. In other words, it is still essential – although from sources other than the respondent spouse – to show his or her personality profile, or its approximation, at the time of marriage; the root cause of the inability to appreciate the essential obligations of marriage; and the gravity, permanence and incurability of the condition.

Other than from the spouses, such evidence can come from persons intimately related to them, such as relatives, close friends or even family doctors or lawyers who could testify on the allegedly incapacitated spouse’s condition at or about the time of marriage, or to subsequent occurring events that trace their roots to the incapacity already present at the time of marriage.

In the present case, the only other party outside of the spouses who was ever asked to give statements for purposes of Teresita’s psychological evaluation was Richardson, the spouses’ eldest son who would not have been very reliable as a witness in an Article 36 case because he could not have been there when the spouses were married and could not have been expected to know what was happening between his parents until long after his birth.

We confirm the validity of this observation from a reading of the summary of Richardson’s interview with the pyschologist: Richardson’s statement occupied a mere one paragraph (comprising eleven sentences) in the psychological evaluation and merely recited isolated instances of his parents fighting over the foreclosure of their house, his father’s alleged womanizing, and their differences in religion (Ricardo is a Catholic, while Teresita is a Mormon).[19]

We find nothing unusual in these recited marital incidents to indicate that Teresita suffered from some psychological disorder as far back as the time of her marriage to Ricardo, nor do we find these fights to be indicative of problems traceable to any basic psychological disorder existing at the time of marriage. For one, these points of dispute are not uncommon in a marriage and relate essentially to the usual roots of marital problems – finances, fidelity and religion. The psychologist, too, never delved into the relationship between mother and son except to observe their estranged relationship due to a previous argument – a money problem involving Ricardo’s financial remittances to the family. To state the obvious, the psychologist’s evaluation never explained how the recited incidents, made by one who was not even born at the time of the spouses’ marriage, showed a debilitating psychological incapacity already existing at that time.

Of more serious consequence, fatal to Ricardo’s cause, is the failure of Dr. Albaran’s psychological evaluation to fully explain the details – i.e., the what, how, when, where and since when – of Teresita’s alleged Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It seems to us that, with hardly any supporting evidence to fall back on, Dr. Albaran simply stated out of the blue that Teresita’s personality disorder manifested itself in early adulthood, presuming thereby that the incapacity should have been there when the marriage was celebrated. Dr. Albaran never explained, too, the incapacitating nature of Teresita’s alleged personality disorder, and how it related to the essential marital obligations that she failed to assume. Neither did the good doctor adequately explain in her psychological evaluation how grave and incurable was Teresita’s psychological disorder.

Dr. Albaran’s testimony at the trial did not improve the evidentiary situation for Ricardo, as it still failed to provide the required insights that would have remedied the evidentiary gaps in her written psychological evaluation. In fact, Dr. Albaran’s cross-examination only made the evidentiary situation worse when she admitted that she had difficulty pinpointing the root cause of Teresita’s personality disorder, due to the limited information she gathered from Ricardo and Richardson regarding Teresita’s personal and family history. To directly quote from the records, Dr. Albaran confessed this limitation when she said that “[t]he only data that I have is that, the respondent seem [sic] to have grown from a tumultuous family and this could be perhaps the [sic] contributory to the development of the personality disorder.”[20] Dr. Albaran’s obvious uncertainty in her assessment only proves our point that a complete personality profile of the spouse, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, could not be determined from meager information coming only from a biased source.

b. Ricardo’s testimony

Ricardo testified in court that Teresita was a squanderer and an adulteress. We do not, however, find Ricardo’s characterizations of his wife sufficient to constitute psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. Article 36 contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations. Mere “difficulty,” “refusal, or “neglect” in the performance of marital obligations or “ill will” on the part of the spouse is different from “incapacity” rooted on some debilitating psychological condition or illness.[21]

Ricardo’s testimony merely established that Teresita was irresponsible in managing the family’s finances by not paying their rent, utility bills and other financial obligations. Teresita’s spendthrift attitude, according to Ricardo, even resulted in the loss of the house and lot intended to be their family residence. This kind of irresponsibility, however, does not rise to the level of a psychological incapacity required under Article 36 of the Family Code. At most, Teresita’s mismanagement of the family’s finances merely constituted difficulty, refusal or neglect, during the marriage, in the handling of funds intended for the family’s financial support.

Teresita’s alleged infidelity, even if true, likewise does not constitute psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. In order for sexual infidelity to constitute as psychological incapacity, the respondent’s unfaithfulness must be established as a manifestation of a disordered personality, completely preventing the respondent from discharging the essential obligations of the marital state;[22] there must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor that effectively incapacitated her from complying with the obligation to be faithful to her spouse.[23]

In our view, Ricardo utterly failed in his testimony to prove that Teresita suffered from a disordered personality of this kind. Even Ricardo’s added testimony, relating to rumors of Teresita’s dates with other men and her pregnancy by another man, would not fill in the deficiencies we have observed, given the absence of an adverse integral element and link to Teresita’s allegedly disordered personality.

Moreover, Ricardo failed to prove that Teresita’s alleged character traits already existed at the inception of their marriage. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the psychological incapacity must exist at the time of the celebration of the marriage, even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.[24] In the absence of this element, a marriage cannot be annulled under Article 36.

Root cause of the psychological incapacity needs to be
alleged in a petition for annulment under Article 36 of
the Family Code

Citing Barcelona,[25] Ricardo defended the RTC decision, alleging that the root cause in a petition for annulment under Article 36 of the Family Code is no longer necessary. We find this argument completely at variance with Ricardo’s main argument against the assailed CA decision – i.e., that the RTC, in its decision, discussed thoroughly the root cause of Teresita’s psychological incapacity as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. These conflicting positions, notwithstanding, we see the need to address this issue to further clarify our statement in Barcelona, which Ricardo misquoted and misinterpreted to support his present petition that “since the new Rules do not require the petition to allege expert opinion on the psychological incapacity, it follows that there is also no need to allege in the petition the root cause of the psychological incapacity.”[26]

In Barcelona, the petitioner assailed the bid for annulment for its failure to state the “root cause” of the respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity. The Court resolved this issue, ruling that the petition sufficiently stated a cause of action because the petitioner – instead of stating a specific root cause – clearly described the physical manifestations indicative of the psychological incapacity. This, the Court found to be sufficiently compliant with the first requirement in the Molina case – that the “root cause” of the psychological incapacity be alleged in an Article 36 petition.

Thus, contrary to Ricardo’s position, Barcelona does not do away with the “root cause” requirement. The ruling simply means that the statement of the root cause does not need to be in medical terms or be technical in nature, as the root causes of many psychological disorders are still unknown to science. It is enough to merely allege the physical manifestations constituting the root cause of the psychological incapacity. Section 2, paragraph (d) of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (Rules)[27] in fact provides:

SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

x x x x

(d) What to allege.­ – A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall specially allege the complete facts showing that either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential marital obligations of marriages at the time of the celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.

The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged.

As we explained in Barcelona, the requirement alleging the root cause in a petition for annulment under Article 36 of the Family Code was not dispensed with by the adoption of the Rules. What the Rules really eliminated was the need for an expert opinion to prove the root cause of the psychological incapacity. The Court further held that the Rules, being procedural in nature, apply only to actions pending and unresolved at the time of their adoption.

To sum up, Ricardo failed to discharge the burden of proof to show that Teresita suffered from psychological incapacity; thus, his petition for annulment of marriage must fail. Ricardo merely established that Teresita had been remiss in her duties as a wife for being irresponsible in taking care of their family’s finances – a fault or deficiency that does not amount to the psychological incapacity that Article 36 of the Family Code requires. We reiterate that irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity, as the same may only be due to a person’s difficulty, refusal or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage that is not rooted in some psychological illness that Article 36 of the Family Code addresses.[28]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 71882. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio Morales, (Chairperson), Bersamin, *Abad, and Villarama, Jr., JJ., concur.

* Designated additional Member of the Third Division, in view of the retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, per Special Order No. 843 dated May 17, 2010.

  • [1] Rollo, pp. 18-29.
  • [2] RTC rollo, pp. 1-6.
  • [3] Rollo, p. 19.
  • [4] RTC rollo, p. 4.
  • [5] Id. at 5.
  • [6] Id. at 51.
  • [7] 335 Phil. 664 (1997).
  • [8] Rollo, pp. 43-52.
  • [9] Id. at 58-62.
  • [10] G.R. No. 130087, September 24, 2003, 412 SCRA 41, 49-50.
  • [11] 310 Phil. 21 (1995).
  • [12] Id. at 40.
  • [13] Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, supra note 7, at 676-678.
  • [14] See So v. Valera, G.R. No. 150677, June 5, 2009, 588 SCRA 319; Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua, G.R. No. 166738, August 14, 2009, 596 SCRA 157.
  • [15] Supra note 14.
  • [16] Supra note 14.
  • [17] Ibid.
  • [18] Marcos v. Marcos, G.R. No. 136490, October 19, 2000, 343 SCRA 755.
  • [19] RTC rollo, p. 50.
  • [20] Id. at 157.
  • [21] Navales v. Navales, G.R. No. 167523, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 272.
  • [22] Santos v. Santos, supra note 11; Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, 377 Phil. 919, 931-932 (1999); Dedel v. Court of Appeals, 466 Phil. 226, 233-232 (2004).
  • [23] Bier v. Bier, G.R. No. 166562, March 31, 2009.
  • [24] Santos v. Court of Appeals, et al., supra note 11.
  • [25] Supra note 10.
  • [26] Id. at 50.
  • [27] Effective March 15, 2003.
  • [28] Supra note 21, at 288.
Categories
Art. 36 Family Code Psychological incapacity

What is Psychological Incapacity?

Habitual drunkenness, gambling and failure to find a job, while undoubtedly negative traits, are nowhere nearly the equivalent of psychological incapacity, in the absence of incontrovertible proof that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness. Suazo v. Suazo; Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

‘Psychological incapacity,’ as a ground to nullify a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental – not merely physical – incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, among others, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love respect and fidelity and render help and support. Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

Psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved). Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

“Psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code contemplates an incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations, and is not merely the difficulty, refusal, or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will.” Republic v. Court of Appeals, 698 Phil. 257, 265 (2012). Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

The parties’ child is not a very reliable witness in an Article 36 case as “he could not have been there when the spouses were married and could not have been expected to know what was happening between his parents until long after his birth.” Toring v. Toring, 640 Phil. 434, 452 (2010). Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

“There must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor that effectively incapacitated the respondent spouse from complying with the basic marital obligations x x x.” Republic v. Court of Appeals  

“A cause has to be shown and linked with the manifestations of the psychological incapacity.”[51] Republic v. Galang[51]

To support her Article 36 petition, petitioner ought to have adduced convincing, competent and trustworthy evidence to establish the cause of respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity and that the same antedated their marriage.[57] Republic v. Galang; Republic v. Pangasinan[57] 

See the complete decision in the case of Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018.

Categories
2012 SC Decisions Art. 36 Family Code

Psychological Incapacity – Family Code of the Philippines – Articles 36 – 2012 SC Decisions – 8Lawyers.Com

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 159594
November 12, 2012

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS (NINTH DIVISION), AND EDUARDO C. DE QUINTOS, .JR., Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

BERSAMIN, J.:

The State appeals the decision promulgated on July 30, 2003,[1] whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the declaration by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, in Lingayen, Pangasinan of the nullity of the marriage between respondent Eduardo De Quintos, Jr. (Eduardo) and Catalina Delos Santos-De Quintos (Catalina) based on the latter’s psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

We find the State’s appeal to be meritorious. Hence, we uphold once again the validity of a marriage on the ground that the alleged psychological incapacity was not sufficiently established.

Antecedents

Eduardo and Catalina were married on March 16, 1977 in civil rites solemnized by the Municipal Mayor of Lingayen, Pangasinan.[2] The couple was not blessed with a child due to Catalina’s hysterectomy following her second miscarriage.[3]

On April 6, 1998, Eduardo filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of their marriage,[4] citing Catalina’s psychological incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations. Catalina did not interpose any objection to the petition, but prayed to be given her share in the conjugal house and lot located in Bacabac, Bugallon, Pangasinan.[5] After conducting an investigation, the public prosecutor determined that there was no collusion between Eduardo and Catalina.[6]

Eduardo testified that Catalina always left their house without his consent; that she engaged in petty arguments with him; that she constantly refused to give in to his sexual needs; that she spent most of her time gossiping with neighbors instead of doing the household chores and caring for their adopted daughter; that she squandered by gambling all his remittances as an overseas worker in Qatar since 1993; and that she abandoned the conjugal home in 1997 to live with Bobbie Castro, her paramour.[7]

Eduardo presented the results of the neuro-psychiatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Annabelle L. Reyes, a psychiatrist. Based on the tests she administered on Catalina,[8] Dr. Reyes opined that Catalina exhibited traits of Borderline Personality Disorder that was no longer treatable. Dr. Reyes found that Catalina’s disorder was mainly characterized by her immaturity that rendered her psychologically incapacitated to meet her marital obligations.[9]

Catalina did not appear during trial but submitted her Answer/Manifestation,[10] whereby she admitted her psychological incapacity, but denied leaving the conjugal home without Eduardo’s consent and flirting with different men. She insisted that she had only one live-in partner; and that she would not give up her share in the conjugal residence because she intended to live there or to receive her share should the residence be sold.[11]

Ruling of the RTC

The RTC granted the petition on August 9, 2000, decreeing:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, this Honorable Court finds for the plaintiff and judgment is hereby rendered:

  1. Declaring the marriage between Eduardo C. de Quintos and Catalina delos Santos de Quintos, a nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended.
  2. Ordering the Municipal Civil Registrar of Lingayen,Pangasinan to cancel the marriage of the parties from the Civil Register of Lingayen, Pangasinan in accordance with this decision.

SO ORDERED.[12]

The RTC ruled that Catalina’s infidelity, her spending more time with friends rather than with her family, and her incessant gambling constituted psychological incapacity that affected her duty to comply with the essential obligations of marriage. It held that considering that the matter of determining whether a party was psychologically incapacitated was best left to experts like Dr. Reyes, the results of the neuro-psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Reyes was the best evidence of Catalina’s psychological incapacity.[13]

Ruling of the CA

On appeal, the State raised the lone error that:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE PARTIES’ MARRIAGE NULL AND VOID, DEFENDANT CATALINA DELOS SANTOS-DE QUINTOS’ PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY NOT HAVING BEEN PROVEN TO EXIST.

On July 30, 2003, the CA promulgated its decision affirming the judgment of the RTC. The CA concluded that Eduardo proved Catalina’s psychological incapacity, observing that the results of the neuro-psychiatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Reyes showed that Catalina had been “mentally or physically ill to the extent that she could not have known her marital obligations;” and that Catalina’s psychological incapacity had been medically identified, sufficiently proven, duly alleged in the complaint and clearly explained by the trial court.

Issue

In this appeal, the State, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), urges that the CA gravely erred because:

I

THERE IS NO SHOWING THAT CATALINA’S ALLEGED PERSONALITY TRAITS ARE CONSTITUTIVE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY EXISTING AT THE TIME OF MARRIAGE CELEBRATION; NOR ARE THEY OF THE NATURE CONTEMPLATED BY ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE.

II

MARITAL UNFAITHFULNESS OF THE [sic] CATALINA WAS NOT SHOWN TO BE A SYMPTOM OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY.

III

ABANDONMENT OF ONE’S FAMILY IS ONLY A GROUND FOR LEGAL SEPARATION.

IV

GAMBLING HABIT OF CATALINA NOT LIKEWISE ESTABLISHED TO BE A SYMPTOM OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY.

V

THE NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION AND TESTIMONY OF DR. ANNABELLE REYES FAILED TO ESTABLISH THE CAUSE OF CATALINA’S INCAPACITY AND PROVE THAT IT EXISTED AT THE INCEPTION OF MARRIAGE, IS GRAVE AND INCURABLE.14

The OSG argues that the findings and conclusions of the RTC and the CA did not conform to the guidelines laid down by the Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals, (Molina);15 and that Catalina’s refusal to do household chores, and her failure to take care of her husband and their adopted daughter were not “defects” of a psychological nature warranting the declaration of nullity of their marriage, but mere indications of her difficulty, refusal or neglect to perform her marital obligations.

The OSG further argues that Catalina’s infidelity, gambling habits and abandonment of the conjugal home were not grounds under Article 36 of the Family Code; that there was no proof that her infidelity and gambling had occurred prior to the marriage, while her abandonment would only be a ground for legal separation under Article 55(10) of the Family Code; that the neuro-psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Reyes did not sufficiently establish Catalina’s psychological incapacity; that Dr. Reyes was not shown to have exerted effort to look into Catalina’s past life, attitudes, habits and character as to be able to explain her alleged psychological incapacity; that there was not even a finding of the root cause of her alleged psychological incapacity; and that there appeared to be a collusion between the parties inasmuch as Eduardo admitted during the trial that he had given P50,000.00 to Catalina in exchange for her non-appearance in the trial.

The OSG postulated that Catalina’s unsupportive in-laws and Eduardo’s overseas deployment that had required him to be away most of the time created the strain in the couple’s relationship and forced her to seek her friends’ emotional support and company; and that her ambivalent attitude towards their adopted daughter was attributable to her inability to bear children of her own.

Issue

The issue is whether there was sufficient evidence warranting the declaration of the nullity of Catalina’s marriage to Eduardo based on her psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Ruling

We grant the petition for review.

Psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code contemplates an incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations, and is not merely the difficulty, refusal, or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will. It consists of: (a) a true inability to commit oneself to the essentials of marriage; (b) the inability must refer to the essential obligations of marriage, that is, the conjugal act, the community of life and love, the rendering of mutual help, and the procreation and education of offspring; and (c) the inability must be tantamount to a psychological abnormality. Proving that a spouse failed to meet his or her responsibility and duty as a married person is not enough; it is essential that he or she must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to some psychological illness.16

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,17 we decreed that psychological incapacity should refer to a mental incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants such as those enumerated in Article 68 of the Family Code and must be characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability. In an effort to settle the confusion that may arise in deciding cases involving nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, we then laid down the following guidelines in the later ruling in Molina,18 viz:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. x x x.

x x x x

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological — not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. x x x.

x x x x

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage. x x x.

x x x x

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. x x x.

x x x x

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, “mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts” cannot be accepted as root causes. x x x.

x x x x

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x.

x x x x

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. x x x.19

The foregoing pronouncements in Santos and Molina have remained as the precedential guides in deciding cases grounded on the psychological incapacity of a spouse. But the Court has declared the existence or absence of the psychological incapacity based strictly on the facts of each case and not on a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations.20 Indeed, the incapacity should be established by the totality of evidence presented during trial,21 making it incumbent upon the petitioner to sufficiently prove the existence of the psychological incapacity.22

Eduardo defends the rulings of the RTC and the CA, insisting that they thereby explained the gravity and severity of Catalina’s psychological incapacity that had existed even prior to the celebration of their marriage.23

We are not convinced. Both lower courts did not exact a compliance with the requirement of sufficiently explaining the gravity, root cause and incurability of Catalina’s purported psychological incapacity. Rather, they were liberal in their appreciation of the scanty evidence that Eduardo submitted to establish the incapacity.

To start with, Catalina’s supposed behavior (i.e., her frequent gossiping with neighbors, leaving the house without Eduardo’s consent, refusal to do the household chores and to take care of their adopted daughter, and gambling), were not even established. Eduardo presented no other witnesses to corroborate his allegations on such behavior. At best, his testimony was self-serving and would have no serious value as evidence upon such a serious matter that was submitted to a court of law.

Secondly, both lower courts noticeably relied heavily on the results of the neuro-psychological evaluation by Dr. Reyes despite the paucity of factual foundation to support the claim of Catalina’s psychological incapacity. In particular, they relied on the following portion of the report of Dr. Reyes, to wit:

REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

Catalina is exhibiting traits of a borderline personality. This is characterized, mainly by immaturity in several aspects of the personality. One aspect is in the area of personal relationships, where a person cannot really come up with what is expected in a relationship that involves commitments. They are generally in and out of relationships, as they do not have the patience to sustain this [sic] ties. Their behavior is like that of a child who has to be attended to as they might end up doing things which are often regrettable. These people however usually do not feel remorse for their wrongdoings. They do not seem to learn from their mistakes, and they have the habit of repeating these mistakes to the detriment of their own lives and that of their families. Owing to these characteristics, people with these pattern of traits cannot be expected to have lasting and successful relationships as required in marriage. It is expected that even with future relationships, things will not work out.

Families of these people usually reveal that parents relationship are not also that ideal. If this be the background of the developing child, it is likely that his or her relationships would also end up as such.

x x x x

With all these collateral information being considered and a longitudinal history of defendant made, it is being concluded that she was not able to come up with the minimum expected of her as a wife. Her behavior and attitude before and after the marriage is highly indicative of a very immature and childish person, rendering her psychologically incapacitated to live up and meet the responsibilities required in a commitment like marriage. Catalina miserably failed to fulfill her role as wife and mother, rendering her incapacitated to comply with her duties inherent in marriage. In the same vein, it cannot be expected that this attitude and behavior of defendant will still change because her traits have developed through the years and already ingrained within her.24

Yet, the report was ostensibly vague about the root cause, gravity and incurability of Catalina’s supposed psychological incapacity. Nor was the testimony given in court by Dr. Reyes a source of vital information that the report missed out on. Aside from rendering a brief and general description of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, both the report and court testimony of Dr. Reyes tendered no explanation on the root cause that could have brought about such behavior on the part of Catalina. They did not specify which of Catalina’s various acts or omissions typified the conduct of a person with borderline personality, and did not also discuss the gravity of her behavior that translated to her inability to perform her basic marital duties. Dr. Reyes only established that Catalina was childish and immature, and that her childishness and immaturity could no longer be treated due to her having already reached an age “beyond maturity.”25

Thirdly, we have said that the expert evidence presented in cases of declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity presupposes a thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert to make a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of psychological incapacity.26 We have explained this need in Lim v. Sta. Cruz-Lim,27 stating:

The expert opinion of a psychiatrist arrived at after a maximum of seven (7) hours of interview, and unsupported by separate psychological tests, cannot tie the hands of the trial court and prevent it from making its own factual finding on what happened in this case. The probative force of the testimony of an expert does not lie in a mere statement of his theory or opinion, but rather in the assistance that he can render to the courts in showing the facts that serve as a basis for his criterion and the reasons upon which the logic of his conclusion is founded.28

But Dr. Reyes had only one interview with Catalina, and did not personally seek out and meet with other persons, aside from Eduardo, who could have shed light on and established the conduct of the spouses before and during the marriage. For that reason, Dr. Reyes’ report lacked depth and objectivity, a weakness that removed the necessary support for the conclusion that the RTC and the CA reached about Catalina’s psychological incapacity to perform her marital duties.

Under the circumstances, the report and court testimony by Dr. Reyes did not present the gravity and incurability of Catalina’s psychological incapacity. There was, to start with, no evidence showing the root cause of her alleged borderline personality disorder and that such disorder had existed prior to her marriage. We have repeatedly pronounced that the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be identified as a psychological illness, with its incapacitating nature fully explained and established by the totality of the evidence presented during trial.29

What we can gather from the scant evidence that Eduardo adduced was Catalina’s immaturity and apparent refusal to perform her marital obligations. However, her immaturity alone did not constitute psychological incapacity.30 To rule that such immaturity amounted to psychological incapacity, it must be shown that the immature acts were manifestations of a disordered personality that made the spouse completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, which inability was merely due to her youth or immaturity.31

Fourthly, we held in Suazo v. Suazo32 that there must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor that effectively incapacitated the respondent spouse from complying with the basic marital obligations, viz:

It is not enough that the respondent, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in complying with his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations. Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor – an adverse integral element in the respondent’s personality structure that effectively incapacitated him from complying with his essential marital obligations – must be shown. Mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will on the part of the spouse is different from incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness; irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only be due to a person’s refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

The only fact established here, which Catalina even admitted in her Answer, was her abandonment of the conjugal home to live with another man. Yet, abandonment was not one of the grounds for the nullity of marriage under the Family Code. It did not also constitute psychological incapacity, it being instead a ground for legal separation under Article 55(10) of the Family Code. On the other hand, her sexual infidelity was not a valid ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, considering that there should be a showing that such marital infidelity was a manifestation of a disordered personality that made her completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of marriage.33 Needless to state, Eduardo did not adduce such evidence, rendering even his claim of her infidelity bereft of factual and legal basis.

Lastly, we do not concur with the assertion by the OSG that Eduardo colluded with Catalina. The assertion was based on his admission during trial that he had paid her the amount of P50,000.00 as her share in the conjugal home in order to convince her not to oppose his petition or to bring any action on her part,34 to wit:

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY FISCAL MUERONG

Q Mr. de Quintos, also during the first part of the hearing, your wife, the herein defendant, Catalina delos Santos-de Quintos, has been religiously attending the hearing, but lately, I noticed that she is no longer attending and represented by counsel, did you talk to your wife?
A No, sir.

Q And you find it more convenient that it would be better for both of you, if, she will not attend the hearing of this case you filed against her, is it not?
A No, sir. I did not.

Q But, am I correct, Mr. de Quintos, that you and your wife had an agreement regarding this case?
A None, sir.

Q And you were telling me something about an agreement that you will pay her an amount of P50,000.00, please tell us, what is that agreement that you have to pay her P50,000.00?
A Regarding our conjugal properties, sir.

Q Why, do you have conjugal properties that you both or acquired at the time of your marriage?
A Yes, sir.

Q And why did you agree that you have to give her P50,000.00?
A It is because we bought a lot and constructed a house thereat, that is why I agreed, sir.

Q Is it not a fact, Mr. witness, that your wife does not oppose this petition for declaration of marriage which you filed against her?
A She does not opposed [sic], sir.

Q As a matter of fact, the only thing that she is concern [sic] about this case is the division of your conjugal properties?
A Yes, sir.

Q That is why you also agreed to give her P50,000.00 as her share of your conjugal properties, so that she will not pursue whatever she wanted to pursue with regards to the case you filed against her, is that correct?
A Yes, sir.

Q And you already gave her that amount of P50,000.00, Mr. witness?
A Yes, sir.

Q And because she has already gotten her share of P50,000.00 that is the reason why she is no longer around here?
A Yes sir, it could be.35

Verily, the payment to Catalina could not be a manifest sign of a collusion between her and Eduardo.1âwphi1 To recall, she did not interpose her objection to the petition to the point of conceding her psychological incapacity, but she nonetheless made it clear enough that she was unwilling to forego her share in the conjugal house. The probability that Eduardo willingly gave her the amount of P50,000.00 as her share in the conjugal asset out of his recognition of her unquestionable legal entitlement to such share was very high, so that whether or not he did so also to encourage her to stick to her previously announced stance of not opposing the petition for nullity of the marriage should by no means be of any consequence in determining the issue of collusion between the spouses.

In fine, given the insufficiency of the evidence proving the psychological incapacity of Catalina, we cannot but resolve in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.36

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari; SET ASIDE the decision the Court of Appeals promulgated on July 30, 2003; and DISMISS the petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage filed under Article 36 of the Family Code for lack of merit.

Costs to be paid by the respondent.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice

Footnotes

  • [1] Rollo, pp. 51-57; penned by Associate Justice B.A. Adefuin-Dela Cruz (retired), with Associate Justices Perlita J. Tria Tirona (retired) and Hakim S. Abdulwahid, concurring.
  • [2] Exhibit “A”, Exhibit Folder, p. 1.
  • [3] Exhibit Folder, p. 2.
  • [4] Records, pp. 2-4.
  • [5] Id. at 10-11.
  • [6] Id. at 14-15.
  • [7] TSN dated December 7, 1998, pp. 4-5.
  • [8] Dr. Reyes administered the following tests, namely:- Purdue Non Verbal Test, Draw-A-Person Test, House-Tree-Person Test, Sack’s Sentence Completion Test, and Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test (see Exhibit “B”, Exhibit Folder, p. 5).
  • [9] TSN dated January 18, 1999, pp. 3-4.
  • [10] Records, pp. 10-11.
  • [11] Id. at 10-11.
  • [12] Id. at 68.
  • [13] Id. at 66-67.
  • [14] Rollo, pp. 22-23.
  • [15] G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198.
  • [16] Yambao v. Republic, G.R. No. 184063, January 24, 2011, 640 SCRA 355, 367.
  • [17] G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20.
  • [18] Supra note 15.
  • [19] Id. at 209-213.
  • [20] Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, February 9, 2001, 351 SCRA 425, 431.
  • [21] Bier v. Bier, G.R. No. 173294, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 123, 132.
  • [22] Antonio v. Reyes, G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006, 484 SCRA 353, 376.
  • [23] Rollo, p. 62.
  • [24] Exhibit Folder, pp. 4, 6.
  • [25] TSN dated January 18, 1999, p. 7.
  • [26] Marable v. Marable, G.R. No. 178741, January 17, 2011, 639 SCRA 557, 567; Suazo v.Suazo, G.R. No. 164493, March 12, 2010, 615 SCRA 154, 176.
  • [27] G.R. No. 176464, February 4, 2010, 611 SCRA 569.
  • [28] Id. at 585.
  • [29] Ligeralde v. Patalinghug, G.R. No. 168796, April 15, 2010, 618 SCRA 315, 321-322.
  • [30] Republic v. Galang, G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 524, 540; Navarro, Jr. v. Cecilio-Navarro, G.R. No. 162049, April 13, 2007, 521 SCRA 121, 130.
  • [31] Dedel v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151867, January 29, 2004, 421 SCRA 461, 466.
  • [32] Supra note 26, at 174-175.
  • [33] Villalon v. Villalon, G.R. No. 167206, November 18, 2005, 475 SCRA 572, 582.
  • [34] TSN dated December 14, 1998.
  • [35] Id. at 3-4.
  • [36] Alcazar v. Alcazar, G.R. No. 174451, October 13, 2009, 603 SCRA 604, 620.

Categories
Art. 36 Family Code

Who Can File Declaration of Nullity of Marriage?

It is axiomatic that the validity of marriage and the unity of the family are enshrined in our Constitution and statutory laws, hence any doubts attending the same are to be resolved in favor of the continuance and validity of the marriage and that the burden of proving the nullity of the same rests at all times upon the petitioner. (Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018)

Who has the burden of proving the nullity? Is this a Void marriage? See the Complete Decision: Singson vs. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, Jan. 08, 2018. This is another case of Psychological Incapacity.