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Thanks to Atty Zodiac

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NOTE: This is a landmark case on Psychological Incapacity which proclaims, under certain circumstances,

habitual lying as constitutive of psychological incapacity

which may lead to nullity of marriage.NOTE: This is a landmark case on Psychological Incapacity which proclaims, under certain circumstances, habitual lying as constitutive of psychological incapacity which may lead to nullity of marriage.

G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006

TINGA, J.

The Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 29 November 2001 and 24 October 2002. The Court of Appeals had reversed the judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati declaring the marriage of Leonilo N. Antonio (petitioner) and Marie Ivonne F. Reyes (respondent), null and void. After careful consideration, we reverse and affirm instead the trial court.

Antecedent Facts

Petitioner and respondent met in August 1989 when petitioner was 26 years old and respondent was 36 years of age. Barely a year after their first meeting, they got married before a minister of the Gospel at the Manila City Hall, and through a subsequent church wedding at the Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish, Bagong Ilog, Pasig, Metro Manila on 6 December 1990. Out of their union, a child was born on 19 April 1991, who sadly died five (5) months later.

On 8 March 1993, petitioner filed a petition to have his marriage to respondent declared null and void. He anchored his petition for nullity on Article 36 of the Family Code alleging that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage. He asserted that respondent’s incapacity existed at the time their marriage was celebrated and still subsists up to the present.

As manifestations of respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity, petitioner claimed that respondent persistently lied about herself, the people around her, her occupation, income, educational attainment and other events or things, to wit:

(1) She concealed the fact that she previously gave birth to an illegitimate son, and instead introduced the boy to petitioner as the adopted child of her family. She only confessed the truth about the boy’s parentage when petitioner learned about it from other sources after their marriage.

(2) She fabricated a story that her brother-in-law, Edwin David, attempted to rape and kill her when in fact, no such incident occurred.

(3) She misrepresented herself as a psychiatrist to her obstetrician, Dr. Consuelo Gardiner, and told some of her friends that she graduated with a degree in psychology, when she was neither.

(4) She claimed to be a singer or a free-lance voice talent affiliated with Blackgold Recording Company (Blackgold); yet, not a single member of her family ever witnessed her alleged singing activities with the group. In the same vein, she postulated that a luncheon show was held at the Philippine Village Hotel in her honor and even presented an invitation to that effect but petitioner discovered per certification by the Director of Sales of said hotel that no such occasion had taken place.

(5) She invented friends named Babes Santos and Via Marquez, and under those names, sent lengthy letters to petitioner claiming to be from Blackgold and touting her as the “number one moneymaker” in the commercial industry worth P2 million. Petitioner later found out that respondent herself was the one who wrote and sent the letters to him when she admitted the truth in one of their quarrels. He likewise realized that Babes Santos and Via Marquez were only figments of her imagination when he discovered they were not known in or connected with Blackgold.

(6) She represented herself as a person of greater means, thus, she altered her payslip to make it appear that she earned a higher income. She bought a sala set from a public market but told petitioner that she acquired it from a famous furniture dealer. She spent lavishly on unnecessary items and ended up borrowing money from other people on false pretexts.

(7) She exhibited insecurities and jealousies over him to the extent of calling up his officemates to monitor his whereabouts. When he could no longer take her unusual behavior, he separated from her in August 1991. He tried to attempt a reconciliation but since her behavior did not change, he finally left her for good in November 1991.

In support of his petition, petitioner presented Dr. Dante Herrera Abcede (Dr. Abcede), a psychiatrist, and Dr. Arnulfo V. Lopez (Dr. Lopez), a clinical psychologist, who stated, based on the tests they conducted, that petitioner was essentially a normal, introspective, shy and conservative type of person. On the other hand, they observed that respondent’s persistent and constant lying to petitioner was abnormal or pathological. It undermined the basic relationship that should be based on love, trust and respect. They further asserted that respondent’s extreme jealousy was also pathological. It reached the point of paranoia since there was no actual basis for her to suspect that petitioner was having an affair with another woman. They concluded based on the foregoing that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations.

In opposing the petition, respondent claimed that she performed her marital obligations by attending to all the needs of her husband. She asserted that there was no truth to the allegation that she fabricated stories, told lies and invented personalities. She presented her version, thus:

(1) She concealed her child by another man from petitioner because she was afraid of losing her husband.

(2) She told petitioner about David’s attempt to rape and kill her because she surmised such intent from David’s act of touching her back and ogling her from head to foot.

(3) She was actually a BS Banking and Finance graduate and had been teaching psychology at the Pasig Catholic School for two (2) years.

(4) She was a free-lance voice talent of Aris de las Alas, an executive producer of Channel 9 and she had done three (3) commercials with McCann Erickson for the advertisement of Coca-cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Traders Royal Bank. She told petitioner she was a Blackgold recording artist although she was not under contract with the company, yet she reported to the Blackgold office after office hours. She claimed that a luncheon show was indeed held in her honor at the Philippine Village Hotel on 8 December 1979.

(5) She vowed that the letters sent to petitioner were not written by her and the writers thereof were not fictitious. Bea Marquez Recto of the Recto political clan was a resident of the United States while Babes Santos was employed with Saniwares.

(6) She admitted that she called up an officemate of her husband but averred that she merely asked the latter in a diplomatic matter if she was the one asking for chocolates from petitioner, and not to monitor her husband’s whereabouts.

(7) She belied the allegation that she spent lavishly as she supported almost ten people from her monthly budget of P7,000.00.

In fine, respondent argued that apart from her non-disclosure of a child prior to their marriage, the other lies attributed to her by petitioner were mostly hearsay and unconvincing. Her stance was that the totality of the evidence presented is not sufficient for a finding of psychological incapacity on her part.

In addition, respondent presented Dr. Antonio Efren Reyes (Dr. Reyes), a psychiatrist, to refute the allegations anent her psychological condition. Dr. Reyes testified that the series of tests conducted by his assistant, together with the screening procedures and the Comprehensive Psycho-Pathological Rating Scale (CPRS) he himself conducted, led him to conclude that respondent was not psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations. He postulated that regressive behavior, gross neuroticism, psychotic tendencies, and poor control of impulses, which are signs that might point to the presence of disabling trends, were not elicited from respondent.

In rebuttal, Dr. Lopez asseverated that there were flaws in the evaluation conducted by Dr. Reyes as (i) he was not the one who administered and interpreted respondent’s psychological evaluation, and (ii) he made use of only one instrument called CPRS which was not reliable because a good liar can fake the results of such test.

After trial, the lower court gave credence to petitioner’s evidence and held that respondent’s propensity to lying about almost anything−her occupation, state of health, singing abilities and her income, among others−had been duly established. According to the trial court, respondent’s fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and personalities enabled her to live in a world of make-believe. This made her psychologically incapacitated as it rendered her incapable of giving meaning and significance to her marriage. The trial court thus declared the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void.

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Still, the appellate court reversed the RTC’s judgment. While conceding that respondent may not have been completely honest with petitioner, the Court of Appeals nevertheless held that the totality of the evidence presented was insufficient to establish respondent’s psychological incapacity. It declared that the requirements in the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals governing the application and interpretation of psychological incapacity had not been satisfied.

Taking exception to the appellate court’s pronouncement, petitioner elevated the case to this Court. He contends herein that the evidence conclusively establish respondent’s psychological incapacity.

In considering the merit of this petition, the Court is heavily influenced by the credence accorded by the RTC to the factual allegations of petitioner. It is a settled principle of civil procedure that the conclusions of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect from the appellate courts because the trial court had an opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses while giving testimony which may indicate their candor or lack thereof. The Court is likewise guided by the fact that the Court of Appeals did not dispute the veracity of the evidence presented by petitioner. Instead, the appellate court concluded that such evidence was not sufficient to establish the psychological incapacity of respondent.

Thus, the Court is impelled to accept the factual version of petitioner as the operative facts. Still, the crucial question remains as to whether the state of facts as presented by petitioner sufficiently meets the standards set for the declaration of nullity of a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. These standards were definitively laid down in the Court’s 1997 ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals (also known as the Molina case), and indeed the Court of Appeals cited the Molina guidelines in reversing the RTC in the case at bar. Since Molina was decided in 1997, the Supreme Court has yet to squarely affirm the declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, even before Molina was handed down, there was only one case, Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, wherein the Court definitively concluded that a spouse was psychologically incapacitated under Article 36.

This state of jurisprudential affairs may have led to the misperception that the remedy afforded by Article 36 of the Family Code is hollow, insofar as the Supreme Court is concerned. Yet what Molina and the succeeding cases did ordain was a set of guidelines which, while undoubtedly onerous on the petitioner seeking the declaration of nullity, still leave room for a decree of nullity under the proper circumstances. Molina did not foreclose the grant of a decree of nullity under Article 36, even as it raised the bar for its allowance.

LEGAL GUIDELINES to Understanding Article 36

Article 36 of the Family Code states that “[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.” The concept of psychological incapacity as a ground for nullity of marriage is novel in our body of laws, although mental incapacity has long been recognized as a ground for the dissolution of a marriage.
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The notion that psychological incapacity pertains to the inability to understand the obligations of marriage, as opposed to a mere inability to comply with them, was further affirmed in the Molina case. Therein, the Court, through then Justice (now Chief Justice) Panganiban observed that “[t]he evidence [to establish psychological incapacity] must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereto.” Jurisprudence since then has recognized that psychological incapacity “is a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.”

It might seem that this present understanding of psychological incapacity deviates from the literal wording of Article 36, with its central phase reading “psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage.” At the same time, it has been consistently recognized by this Court that the intent of the Family Code committee was to design the law as to allow some resiliency in its application, by avoiding specific examples that would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the preference of the revision committee was for “the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, in the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law.”

We likewise observed in Republic v. Dagdag:

Whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case. Each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to its own facts. In regard to psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to say that no case is on “all fours” with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining the factual milieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court.
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These are the legal premises that inform us as we decide the present petition.

Molina Guidelines As Applied in This Case

As stated earlier, Molina established the guidelines presently recognized in the judicial disposition of petitions for nullity under Article 36. The Court has consistently applied Molina since its promulgation in 1997, and the guidelines therein operate as the general rules. They warrant citation in full:

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, 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 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. 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.”

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Molina had provided for an additional requirement that the Solicitor General issue a certification stating his reasons for his agreement or opposition to the petition. This requirement however was dispensed with following the implementation of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages. Still, Article 48 of the Family Code mandates that the appearance of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned be on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. Obviously, collusion is not an issue in this case, considering the consistent vigorous opposition of respondent to the petition for declaration of nullity. In any event, the fiscal’s participation in the hearings before the trial court is extant from the records of this case.

As earlier noted, the factual findings of the RTC are now deemed binding on this Court, owing to the great weight accorded to the opinion of the primary trier of facts, and the refusal of the Court of Appeals to dispute the veracity of these facts. As such, it must be considered that respondent had consistently lied about many material aspects as to her character and personality. The question remains whether her pattern of fabrication sufficiently establishes her psychological incapacity, consistent with Article 36 and generally, the Molina guidelines.

We find that the present case sufficiently satisfies the guidelines in Molina.

First. Petitioner had sufficiently overcome his burden in proving the psychological incapacity of his spouse. Apart from his own testimony, he presented witnesses who corroborated his allegations on his wife’s behavior, and certifications from Blackgold Records and the Philippine Village Hotel Pavillon which disputed respondent’s claims pertinent to her alleged singing career. He also presented two (2) expert witnesses from the field of psychology who testified that the aberrant behavior of respondent was tantamount to psychological incapacity. In any event, both courts below considered petitioner’s evidence as credible enough. Even the appellate court acknowledged that respondent was not totally honest with petitioner.

As in all civil matters, the petitioner in an action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 must be able to establish the cause of action with a preponderance of evidence. However, since the action cannot be considered as a non-public matter between private parties, but is impressed with State interest, the Family Code likewise requires the participation of the State, through the prosecuting attorney, fiscal, or Solicitor General, to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. Thus, even if the petitioner is able establish the psychological incapacity of respondent with preponderant evidence, any finding of collusion among the parties would necessarily negate such proofs.

Second. The root cause of respondent’s psychological incapacity has been medically or clinically identified, alleged in the complaint, sufficiently proven by experts, and clearly explained in the trial court’s decision. The initiatory complaint alleged that respondent, from the start, had exhibited unusual and abnormal behavior “of peren[n]ially telling lies, fabricating ridiculous stories, and inventing personalities and situations,” of writing letters to petitioner using fictitious names, and of lying about her actual occupation, income, educational attainment, and family background, among others.

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Also, with the totality of the evidence presented as basis, the trial court explicated its finding of psychological incapacity in its decision in this wise:

To the mind of the Court, all of the above are indications that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage. It has been shown clearly from her actuations that respondent has that propensity for telling lies about almost anything, be it her occupation, her state of health, her singing abilities, her income, etc. She has this fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and personalities. She practically lived in a world of make believe making her therefore not in a position to give meaning and significance to her marriage to petitioner. In persistently and constantly lying to petitioner, respondent undermined the basic tenets of relationship between spouses that is based on love, trust and respect. As concluded by the psychiatrist presented by petitioner, such repeated lying is abnormal and pathological and amounts to psychological incapacity.

Third. Respondent’s psychological incapacity was established to have clearly existed at the time of and even before the celebration of marriage. She fabricated friends and made up letters from fictitious characters well before she married petitioner. Likewise, she kept petitioner in the dark about her natural child’s real parentage as she only confessed when the latter had found out the truth after their marriage.

Fourth. The gravity of respondent’s psychological incapacity is sufficient to prove her disability to assume the essential obligations of marriage. It is immediately discernible that the parties had shared only a little over a year of cohabitation before the exasperated petitioner left his wife. Whatever such circumstance speaks of the degree of tolerance of petitioner, it likewise supports the belief that respondent’s psychological incapacity, as borne by the record, was so grave in extent that any prolonged marital life was dubitable.

It should be noted that the lies attributed to respondent were not adopted as false pretenses in order to induce petitioner into marriage. More disturbingly, they indicate a failure on the part of respondent to distinguish truth from fiction, or at least abide by the truth. Petitioner’s witnesses and the trial court were emphatic on respondent’s inveterate proclivity to telling lies and the pathologic nature of her mistruths, which according to them, were revelatory of respondent’s inability to understand and perform the essential obligations of marriage. Indeed, a person unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality would similarly be unable to comprehend the legal nature of the marital bond, much less its psychic meaning, and the corresponding obligations attached to marriage, including parenting. One unable to adhere to reality cannot be expected to adhere as well to any legal or emotional commitments.

The Court of Appeals somehow concluded that since respondent allegedly tried her best to effect a reconciliation, she had amply exhibited her ability to perform her marital obligations. We are not convinced. Given the nature of her psychological condition, her willingness to remain in the marriage hardly banishes nay extenuates her lack of capacity to fulfill the essential marital obligations. Respondent’s ability to even comprehend what the essential marital obligations are is impaired at best. Considering that the evidence convincingly disputes respondent’s ability to adhere to the truth, her avowals as to her commitment to the marriage cannot be accorded much credence.

At this point, it is worth considering Article 45(3) of the Family Code which states that a marriage may be annulled if the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, and Article 46 which enumerates the circumstances constituting fraud under the previous article, clarifies that “no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.” It would be improper to draw linkages between misrepresentations made by respondent and the misrepresentations under Articles 45 (3) and 46. The fraud under Article 45(3) vitiates the consent of the spouse who is lied to, and does not allude to vitiated consent of the lying spouse. In this case, the misrepresentations of respondent point to her own inadequacy to cope with her marital obligations, kindred to psychological incapacity under Article 36.

Fifth. Respondent is evidently unable to comply with the essential marital obligations as embraced by Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code. Article 68, in particular, enjoins the spouses to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support. As noted by the trial court, it is difficult to see how an inveterate pathological liar would be able to commit to the basic tenets of relationship between spouses based on love, trust and respect.

Sixth. The Court of Appeals clearly erred when it failed to take into consideration the fact that the marriage of the parties was annulled by the Catholic Church. The appellate court apparently deemed this detail totally inconsequential as no reference was made to it anywhere in the assailed decision despite petitioner’s efforts to bring the matter to its attention. Such deliberate ignorance is in contravention of Molina, which held that 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.

As noted earlier, the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila decreed the invalidity of the marriage in question in a Conclusion dated 30 March 1995, citing the “lack of due discretion” on the part of respondent. Such decree of nullity was affirmed by both the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, and the Roman Rota of the Vatican. In fact, respondent’s psychological incapacity was considered so grave that a restrictive clause was appended to the sentence of nullity prohibiting respondent from contracting another marriage without the Tribunal’s consent.

In its Decision dated 4 June 1995, the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal pronounced:

The JURISPRUDENCE in the Case maintains that matrimonial consent is considered ontologically defective and wherefore judicially ineffective when elicited by a Part Contractant in possession and employ of a discretionary judgment faculty with a perceptive vigor markedly inadequate for the practical understanding of the conjugal Covenant or serious impaired from the correct appreciation of the integral significance and implications of the marriage vows.

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Seventh. The final point of contention is the requirement in Molina that such psychological incapacity be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It was on this score that the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court, the appellate court noting that it did not appear certain that respondent’s condition was incurable and that Dr. Abcede did not testify to such effect.

Petitioner points out that one month after he and his wife initially separated, he returned to her, desiring to make their marriage work. However, respondent’s aberrant behavior remained unchanged, as she continued to lie, fabricate stories, and maintained her excessive jealousy. From this fact, he draws the conclusion that respondent’s condition is incurable.

From the totality of the evidence, can it be definitively concluded that respondent’s condition is incurable? It would seem, at least, that respondent’s psychosis is quite grave, and a cure thereof a remarkable feat. Certainly, it would have been easier had petitioner’s expert witnesses characterized respondent’s condition as incurable. Instead, they remained silent on whether the psychological incapacity was curable or incurable.

But on careful examination, there was good reason for the experts’ taciturnity on this point.

The petitioner’s expert witnesses testified in 1994 and 1995, and the trial court rendered its decision on 10 August 1995. These events transpired well before Molina was promulgated in 1997 and made explicit the requirement that the psychological incapacity must be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such requirement was not expressly stated in Article 36 or any other provision of the Family Code.

On the other hand, the Court in Santos, which was decided in January 1995, began its discussion by first citing the deliberations of the Family Code committee, then the opinion of canonical scholars, before arriving at its formulation of the doctrinal definition of psychological incapacity. Santos did refer to Justice Caguioa’s opinion expressed during the deliberations that “psychological incapacity is incurable,” and the view of a former presiding judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila that psychological incapacity must be characterized “by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.” However, in formulating the doctrinal rule on psychological incapacity, the Court in Santos omitted any reference to incurability as a characteristic of psychological incapacity.

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All told, we conclude that petitioner has established his cause of action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code. The RTC correctly ruled, and the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court.

There is little relish in deciding this present petition, pronouncing as it does the marital bond as having been inexistent in the first place. It is possible that respondent, despite her psychological state, remains in love with petitioner, as exhibited by her persistent challenge to the petition for nullity. In fact, the appellate court placed undue emphasis on respondent’s avowed commitment to remain in the marriage. Yet the Court decides these cases on legal reasons and not vapid sentimentality. Marriage, in legal contemplation, is more than the legitimatization of a desire of people in love to live together.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the RTC dated 10 August 1995, declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent NULL and VOID under Article 36 of the Family Code, is REINSTATED. No costs.

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12 Responses to “Landmark case on Psychological Incapacity”

  1. horseradishUSA Says:

    Here’s what I see as having happened in this “final” decision.

    1) Events transpired before, during, after the marriage showing the Respondent had serious “truth-telling” problems.

    2) The marriage was Vowed and consumated.

    3) Tragically: the Child conceived died.

    4) The Petitioner decided to “make claim” for a “money-back guarantee” (rather than try to work to “free” his spouse of her compulsive lying.) The Petitioner filed for “marital bankruptcy”.

    5) Nothing in the law existing at the time the Marriage was Vowed required “proof that ‘psychological incapacity is incurable’ ” in the Respondent (wife).

    6) The Judges “feel sorry” for the “deal” the Petitioner contracted with his (defective) Respondent (wife). [More importantly: What about what he/she Vowed before God?]

    7) Because of the LETTER OF THE LAW, granting an annulment is both “possible” and “socio-culturally-affectively-correct”.

    (Thus:) An annulment was granted.

    Was the validity of the Marriage upheld? Was justice served? Was “truth” found?

    Consider Pope John Paul II’s intruction:

    [Pope John Paul II says that undermining the family (ie. divorce) introduces — multiple — grave — disorders — into both the family, and, thereby: into society (the world)!

    Divorce fundamentally denies the value, dignity, social-interconnectivity, identity, peace of society itself!, unity, integrity, Divine Grace, unselfishness, protection, uniqueness, love (of), and membership in a family.]

    [quote begins]
    15. The fourth commandment of the Decalogue deals with the family and its interior unity—its solidarity, we could say…

    The Fathers of the Church, in the Christian tradition, have spoken of the family as a “domestic church”, a “little church”. They thus referred to the civilization of love as a possible system of human life and coexistence: “to be together” as a family, to be for one another, to make room in a community for affirming each person as such, for affirming “this” individual person. At times it is a matter of people with physical or psychological handicaps, of whom the so-called “progressive” society would prefer to be free. Even the family can end up like this kind of society. It does so when it hastily rids itself of people who are aged, disabled or sick. This happens when there is a loss of faith in that God for whom “all live” (cf. Lk 20:38) and are called to the fullness of Life.

    – Pope John Paul II; LETTER TO FAMILIES: GRATISSIMAM SANE; 02/02/1994; “Year of the Family”; Section 15. [end-of-quote]

    Canon 1095 provides a near-fool-proof guarantee-of-invalidity. All that remains is the choice (ie. the right of every Spouse) to put the “wheels of canonical adjudication in-motion”. (Thereby:) Is the Truth what is really being sought? Or rather: Is what is being sought merely an “official excuse” to give “divine-approval” to what the human will (the Petitioner) desires?

    Is Marriage a “WalMart covenant: Money-back guaranteed”?

    Or, does the Marriage Covenant supercede a subsequent declaration of emotional/ psychological “bankruptcy” (ie. must the spouses actually trust in the “bounty of Graces” supplied by the “Cana-God” and live the “acceptance” of one-another exhibited by the Good Samaritan and by the father of the Prodigal Son?

    Must spouses ACTUALLY EXHIBIT the love of Christ for His Church, as St. Paul describes it?

    Or are they eligible for a “deferment” once-having Vowed their love and acceptance of each other for life?)

  2. Anna Says:

    can i get the contact number of Dr. Arnulfo V. Lopez

    1. Shey Says:

      You can communicate with Dr. Lopez at the Arellano College of Law or the UST Graduate School of Psychology.

      1. Dr. Arnulfo lopez Says:

        Hi. This is dr. Lopez. Thanks for giving my info. Hope to be of service to you soon.:)

  3. Don Kishote Says:

    apologies.
    you just have to search the internet for his address.

  4. tess lescano Says:

    would like to know if there is specific period of marriage before one could apply/file for annulment. Like, I have been married for nearly 13 years, and would like to file for annulment now. Is this too late for me?

    1. Don Kishote Says:

      ask a lawyer.

      bcoz it depends if your grounds is within those enumerated by law as ground for annulment.

    2. lionking Says:

      please take note article. 39 of the family code which provides that “action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage shall not prescribe”. it simply means that even if many years have passed you can still commence an action for the declaration of absolute nullity of your marriage.

      1. Don Kishote Says:

        thanks for the input.

  5. christine Says:

    I just want to ask our honorable lawyers and experts and also solicit an honest and sincere answer. If you happen to have sired a child, and you know perfectly that you’re the father (with or without a DNA test), Will you be willing to acknowledge it publicly, even if your career is at stake? for the sake of a fatherly dedication and loving support of your child? If not, what are your plans for the child?

    1. lionking Says:

      the acknowledgement of a child will not affect the career of man, if there will be any effect, for instance, it would be very minute so i guess it will make no harm to publicly acknowledge a child.

  6. christine Says:

    I just want to ask our honorable lawyers and experts and also solicit an honest and sincere answer. If you happen to have sired a child, and you know perfectly that you’re the father (with or without a DNA test), Will you be willing to acknowledge it publicly, even if your career is at stake? for the sake of a fatherly dedication and loving support of your child? If not, what are your plans for the child?

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