• Consider spouse’s ’total conduct’ before crying psychological incapacity

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I married my girlfriend, Rina, in 2014. Last year, I discovered that she was having an affair with her co-worker. Then, she began to neglect her obligations to me and my son. There was even a time that she went out of the country for three weeks without informing me; thus, I have to call all her relatives and friends to locate her.
    When she returned home, she became very irresponsible that she would party all night and come home only to sleep. I confronted her regarding her behavior, but she refused to mend her ways. I am already fed up, and I intend to file a case to declare our marriage null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity. Will it be granted by the court?

    Dear Mando,
    Psychological incapacity as a ground for dissolution of marriage is governed by Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which 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.”

    In Republic of the Philippines vs. Galang (G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011), the Supreme Court, citing Leouel Santos v. Court of Appeals, et al., stated:

    “In Leouel Santos v. Court of Appeals, et al., the court first declared that 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. Xxx”

    In your situation, the total conduct of your wife cannot be equated to psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage. You must consider the total conduct of your wife. This finds support in the same case mentioned in the immediately preceding paragraph where the Supreme Court said:
    “We stress that psychological incapacity must be more than just a ‘difficulty,’ ‘refusal’ or ‘neglect’ in the performance of some marital obligations. In Republic of the Philippines v. Norma Cuison-Melgar, et al., we ruled that it is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he or she must be shown to be incapable of doing so because of some psychological, not physical, illness. In other words, proof of 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 had to be shown. A cause has to be shown and linked with the manifestations of the psychological incapacity.”

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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