The Basic Law
The applicable provision can be found in Article 36 of the Family Code, providing as follows:
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.
Key Phrases on Psychological Incapacity
1. A party contracted a marriage
2. At the time of the celebration of the marriage
3. Was Psychologically Incapacitated
4. To comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage
5. Such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
What does it include?
As interpreted by Jurisprudence
The phrase “psychological incapacity” is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It refers to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly noncognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity; and render help and support. The intendment of the law has been to confine it to the most serious of cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. (Santos versus Court of Appeals G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20)
Accepted Types of Personality Disorders
In Te versus Te, G.R. No. 161793, February 13,2009, the Honorable Supreme Court recognized
the following types:
Types of Disorders According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev., 1987), or DSM-III-R, personality disorders are categorized into three major clusters:
Cluster A: Paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear to have odd or eccentric habits and traits.
Cluster B: Antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear overly emotional, erratic and dramatic.
Cluster C: Avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive and passive-aggressive personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear anxious or fearful.
The DSM-III-R also lists another category, “personality disorder not otherwise specified,” that can be used for other specific personality disorders or for mixed conditions that do not qualify as any of the specific personality disorders.
Individuals with diagnosable personality disorders usually have long-term concerns, and thus therapy may be long-term.
What are the characteristics to be proved in psychological incapacity?
Root cause must be identified as a psychological illness
Existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage (known as juridical antecedence).
The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their “I do's.” The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
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. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the
exercise of a profession or employment in a job.
Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. Thus, “mild characterological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
emotional outbursts” cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is 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.
Those that do not constitute psychological incapacity.
In Ricardo B. Toring v. Teresita M. Toring, G.R. No. 165321, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 389, 408, the Honorable Supreme Court emphasized that irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity, as these may only be due to a person's difficulty, refusal or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage that is not rooted in some psychological illness that Article 36 of the Family Code addresses.
Furthermore, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity (Hernandez versus Hernandez, G.R. No. 126010. December 8,199)
According to the Supreme Court, “Mixed personality disorder, the "leaving-the-house" attitude whenever he and Amy quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage” (G.R. No. 162368. July 17, 2006).
While habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity. However, if they are manifestations of a disordered personality which make the party completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state then it may constitute psychological incapacity.
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