A marriage may have failed because a seafarer acted as a Mama’s boy, but it cannot be declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
One of the unfortunate consequence of seafarers working away for several months is the falling out of marriage.
For couples desperate to find a way out of their troubled marriages, some choose to undergo trying and tedious legal process where they have to incur many expenses: the cost of litigation, filing fees, and even the professional fees.
The protagonists in most cases are in reality simply unwilling to work out a solution for each other’s personality differences, and have thus become overwhelmed by feelings of disappointment or disillusionment toward one another. Sadly, a marriage, even if unsatisfactory, is not a null and void marriage .
In Republic vs. Cabantug-Baguio, (G.R. No. 171042,June 30, 2008), the wife noticed after their marriage that every time she conversed with the seafarer , he always mentioned his mother and his family, and she soon realized that he was a mama’s boy. And she noticed too that when she would call up the seafarer at his parents’ house and his mother was the one who answered the call, she would deny that he was around.
On the insistence of his mother, the seafarer’s monetary allotment was shared equally between her and the wife.
Later on, the seafarer declared in his employment records that he was single and named his mother as principal allottee.
Less than three years after they contracted marriage, the wife filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of the seafarer’s psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital duties and obligations under Articles 68-70 of the Family Code
In his medical report, the clinical psychologist noted that the seafarer’s personality disorders including his being a mama’s boy are serious, grave, existing already during the adolescent period and incurable . He concluded that the seafarer appeared to be dependent upon his family and unable to establish a domicile for his family and to support his family.
In dismissing the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities does not constitute psychological incapacity. Nor does failure of the parties to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons.
It is essential that the parties to a marriage must be shown to be insensitive to or incapable of meeting their duties and responsibilities due to some psychological (not physical) illness, which insensitivity or incapacity should have been existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage even if it becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
It is downright incapacity, not refusal or neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, which renders a marriage void on the ground of psychological incapacity. The root cause thereof must be medically or clinically identified. There must thus be evidence to adequately establish the same.
Psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. (Cruz vs. Cruz (October 11, 2017 G.R. No. 201988),
The Constitution sets out a policy of protecting and strengthening the family as the basic social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. Marriage, an inviolable institution protected by the State, cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties.
In petitions for the declaration of nullity of marriage, the burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage lies on the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.
(Atty. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email email@example.com, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786)