Republic v. Galang

G.R. No. 168335, 6 June 2010

FACTS:

In March 1994, Nestor and Juvy contracted marriage in Pampanga. In August 1999, Nestor filed with the RTC a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Juvy alleging the latter’s psychological incapacity to exercise the essential obligations of marriage, as the same was a kleptomaniac, gambler and a swindler; that Juvy suffers from “mental deficiency, innate immaturity, distorted discernment and total lack of care, love and affection [towards him and their] child” basing these allegations on Juvy’s unwillingness to prepare breakfast and the incident where Juvy almost lost their son in the market. He posited that Juvy’s incapacity was “extremely serious” and “appears to be incurable.”

Nestor presented Anna Liza Guiang, a psychologist, who testified that she conducted psychological test on the former. In her Psychological Report, the psychologist made the findings on couple, stating that the husband is psychologically mature while his wife is not, without citing the tests conducted and the reason for the wife’s incapacity.

RTC ruled on the nullity of the marriage which was affirmed by the CA, citing that the facts presented satisfied the Santos doctrine.

ISSUE:

Whether there is basis to nullify the respondent’s marriage to Juvy on the ground that at the time of the celebration of the marriage, Juvy suffered from psychological incapacity that prevented her from complying with her essential marital obligations.

RULING:

None. The Supreme Court held that the totality of Nestor’s evidence – his testimonies and the psychologist, and the psychological report and evaluation – insufficient to prove Juvy’s psychological incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code. Psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence; and (c) incurability. The defect 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.” It must be confined to “the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. [Louel Santos v. CA]

Psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence; and (c) incurability. The defect 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.

It is not absolutely necessary to introduce expert opinion in a petition under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality of evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability can be duly established. [Brenda Marcos v. Marcos]

Instead of serving as a guideline, Molina Doctrine unintentionally became a straight jacket; it forced all cases involving psychological incapacity to fit into and be bound by it. [Ngo Te v. Yu-Te] In Ting v Velez-Ting, far from abandoning Molina, the Ngo Te case simply suggested the relaxation of its stringent requirements; the Ngo Te case merely stands for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity.

In the present case, the psychologist did not even identify the types of psychological tests which she administered on Nestor and the root cause of Juvy’s psychological condition. There was no showing that any mental disorder existed at the inception of the marriage. The report failed to prove the gravity or severity of Juvy’s alleged condition, specifically, why and to what extent the disorder is serious, and how it incapacitated her to comply with her marital duties; the report did not even categorically state the particular type of personality disorder found. The report failed to establish the incurability of Juvy’s condition. The report’s pronouncements that Juvy “lacks the initiative to change” and that her mental incapacity “appears incorrigible” are insufficient to prove that her mental condition could not be treated, or if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond her means to undertake.

Petition was granted. Galang’s petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Juvy Salazar under Article 36 of the Family Code was dismissed.

* Case digest by Gretchen Rina A. Lim, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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