Failure or refusal to live together after marriage points to psychological incapacity, a ground for annulment



Dear PAO,
I just want to ask for an advice. I was married in 2011 but two days after our marriage, we were already separated and not living together anymore. The reason why I decided to separate from him is because he is maligning me by spreading false and disparaging stories about me to my church mates and friends.

I want our marriage to be annulled. Is this possible? I’m looking forward to your response. Thank you in advance.

God bless you and more power.

Dear Shyneth,
Separation right after the celebration of marriage is not a ground for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage. This is not one of those grounds provided by law for the same. Because if this is so, then annulment or declaration of marriage becomes easily available to couples desiring to have their marriage annulled or declared null and void, for all they have to do is to cease living together as husband and wife.

This was further explained in the case of Orlando Villanueva vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 132955, October 27, 2006):

“As to the second assignment of error, appellant cannot claim that his marriage should be annulled due to the absence of cohabitation between him and his wife. Lack of cohabitation is, per se, not a ground to annul a marriage. Otherwise, the validity of a marriage will depend upon the will of the spouses who can terminate the marital union by refusing to cohabitate. The failure to cohabit becomes relevant only if it arises as a result of the perpetration of any of the grounds for annulling the marriage, such as lack of parental consent, insanity, fraud, intimidation, or undue influence x x x. Since the appellant failed to justify his failure to cohabit with the appellee on any of those grounds, the validity of his marriage must be upheld.”

Nevertheless, refusal or failure to cohabit could be an indication that either or both parties to a marriage are suffering from psychological incapacity which is a ground for the declaration of nullity of marriage. Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides:

“Art. 36. 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.”

Once psychological incapacity is proved, the court shall declare the marriage null and void.

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 Acosata may be sent to


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