G.R. No. 112019 Santos v. CA January 4, 1995

Facts:

Leouel Santos is a member of the Army who met Julia in Ilioilo City. On September 20, 1986, the two exchange vows before the RTC of Iloilo, which was shortly followed by a church wedding.

Sometime in 1988, Julia decided to leave for US to work as a nurse, despite the pleas to dissuade her otherwise. Seven months have passed since her leaving for US before Julia made her first call to Santos promising that she will return home after the expiration of her contract. However, Julia did not make good of her promise despite  Santos even going over to US in one of his trips under the auspices of the Philippine Army to persuade Julia to come back to the Philippines.

Julia’s persistent refusal to return home and her alleged failure to communicate with Santos for a period of five years have prompted the latter to file an annulment case stating as a ground the psychological incapacity of Julia under Article 36 of the Family Code. According to Santos, a wife who does not care to inform her husband of her whereabouts for five years and does not communicate with him is psychologically incapacitated.

Issue:

Whether or not Julia was psychologically incapacitated to warrant the annulment of her marriage with Santos under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Ruling:

No. In the words of the Supreme Court, “psychological incapacity” 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 which, as so 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.

There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter intensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated.

Accordingly, the factual setting of the case at bench had in no way measure at all, to the standards required to decree the marriage as null and void. While the court recognizes that Santos is undeniably aggrieved, even desperate in his current condition, regrettably, however, neither law nor society itself can have all the answers to every individual problem.

The Supreme Court in this case notably lacked adequate discussion as to why the actuations of Julia did not amount to psychological incapacity. What was strengthened in the discussion was the meaning and import of the psychological incapacity.

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