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.

G.R. No. 167459 Ochosa v. Alano and Republic January 26, 2011

Facts:

Jose is a military man who got married to Bona. Due to the former’s work requirements, he was often assigned to different areas in Mindanao. Bona chose to stay in her place instead of following her husband in his detail assignments in other areas in Mindanao.

Sometime during their marriage, Jose got promoted and was given a quarter for him and his family at Fort Santiago in 1985.

During this period, it appeared that Bona was unfaithful to her spouse as she later on admitted having sexual relations with Jose’s driver whenever the latter was out on duty.

This prompted Jose to file an annulment case on the ground of Bona’s psychological incapacity to perform the basic obligations of marriage. The trial court granted the annulment but was later on overturned by the CA upon appeal on the ground that evidentiary facts do not establish Bona’s psychological incapacity. Hence, this petition.

Issue:

Whether or not Bona was psychologically incapacitated to warrant the dissolution of the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Ruling:

No. The case of Bona having sexual infidelity alone was not enough to show that she was psychologically incapacitated under Article 36 of the Family Code to warrant the petition for annulment by Jose.

While the Court agrees that Bona’s act of sexual infidelity shows the gravity of her incapacity to carry out the essential duties required of marriage, such incapacity was not proven to have juridical antecedence and was not shown to be incurable.

The Court in this case stressed that the incapacity must be proven to have existed at the inception of marriage even though its manifestation was seen after the celebration of marriage. In this case, the psychiatrists who gave her testimony regarding Bona’s psychological condition relied heavily only on the uncorroborated testimony of Jose’s witness. However, the court did not say that a personal examination of witness is necessary in this case. Accordingly, testimonies of those who knew Bona would have strengthened the allegations of Bona’s psychological incapacity.

Finally, the court in this case once again pronounced that a case of annulment by reason of psychological incapacity should be examined by the trial court in light of the unique facts of the case and not rely on pre-adjudged notions or conditions.