• Psychological incapacity ground for annulment

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My twin sister got married in 2010. She met her husband through their common friends. They were only boyfriend-girlfriend for less than one year when they decided to get married. I could sense that they are in love, but they were having a lot of quarrels because, according to her, her husband is a certified “mama’s boy.” She even told me that when they fight, her husband would always compare her to his mother. She feels a lot of emotional stress and they are becoming distant from each other. My sister has had enough of their endless bickering and she would like to know whether she can have her marriage declared null and void on account of her husband’s psychological incapacity. I hope you can shed light on this matter.

    Dear Tina,
    A contract of marriage may be declared void ab initio or void from the very beginning if any of the essential or formal requisites thereto is absent, except those marriages which were solemnized by persons not legally authorized to perform marriages and either or both parties believed in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so (Article 4 in rela–tion to Article 35 (2), Family Code of the Philippines). Apart from that, a contract of marriage may be declared void ab initio if it is one of the grounds provided under the Code.

    For instance, the Family Code recognizes psychological inca–pacity of either or both of the parties to a contract of marriage as one of the valid grounds for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage. It is clearly stated under Article 36 of the said law that: “A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psycho–logically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after solemnization.”

    However, it bears stressing that the characterization of psy–chological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage is not just a simple inability of the spouse to perform what is expected of him or her in the marriage. While our law has no precise definition of what encompasses the term “psy–chological incapacity,” juris–prudence characterizes it in three determining factors, to wit: (1) gravity, (2) juridical antecedence, and (3) incurability. As ruled by the Supreme Court in the case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20), “x x x The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in mar–riage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. x x x”

    With these in mind, we are inclined to tell you that your brother-in-law’s disposition of being a “mama’s boy” may not be enough to consider the same as a ground for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with your twin sister, unless she can concretely establish, with the aid of medical professionals or experts, that her husband’s condition is so serious that he can no longer comply with his essential marital obligations, and that cure of such condition is highly improbable.

    We hope that we were able to address your concern. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    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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    1. Atty, is declaration of nullity of marriage same with declaration of annulment of marriage in regards to psychological incapacity?

    2. Why would someone choose such thoughts and behaviors,
      as well as problems meeting role responsibilities for abc children e.
      Obviously there is great satisfaction for him in tthe compassion and forgiveness of
      David, and the president’s initiative on gun colntrol and mental illness.
      However, having people you can talk to about your feelings or your body’s physiology.

    3. When will this country ever learn that divorce is the way forward. People fall out of love full stop & it needs to be recognised. This stupidity of proving psychological incapacity. I mean just how stupid is that. Why didnt you notice that when you married the person. How come you only notice it now. Maybe the person didnt have it then & its only happened now, so then it isnt grounds. Listen this is a form of control. Why they think they need it i dont know but its probably pandering to the religious heirarchy in this country. Relationships come & go, some last forever some dont, its a fact of life. It needs to be accepted then everyone can live happier more fulfilling lives.

    4. Disagree on the explanation. what the law contemplates as a ground for annulment of marriage based on “psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations”…. take note the law used the word “Incurable curable”. Your case speaks of one of the parties having an attitude problem. What the law contemplates as a ground for annulment of marriage is, “that at the time of the marriage ceremony the other party applying for annulment did not know that the other party was suffering from a mental incurable disease which was present at the ceremony and the party suffering is unable to realize what was going on and the meaning and effects of the ceremony”. Very well said, that the law emphasized “curable” meaning the illness could be treated after the ceremony even though the incapacity was present during ceremony the marriage is not annullable. Law speaks of a mental illness which requires medical treatment, but not one that is regarded as “personality problem.”
      Henceforth, your case the party cannot avail of annulment.