G.R. No. 108763, 13 February 1997
Spouses Roridel and Reynaldo Molina were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church in Manila; that a son, Andre O. Molina was born.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.
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.
Reynaldo had shown that he was psychologically incapable of complying with essential marital obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrelsome individual who thought of himself as a king to be served; and that it would be to the couples 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.
Whether or not the marriage is void on the ground of psychological incapacity.
No, the marriage between Roridel and Reynaldo subsists and remains valid. In the case at bar, 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 and of being conservative, homely and intelligent on the part of Roridel, such failure of expectation is not indicative of antecedent psychological incapacity.
Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, “A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with his obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”
The following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 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;
(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. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex;
(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. 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.
In Leouel Santos v Court of Appeals, this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that “psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not 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 psychological 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, Justice Vitug wrote that “the psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.”
* Case digest by Daisy Mae O. Tambolero, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018