Protecting sanctity of marriage through dissolution of marital bonds

In dissolving marital bonds on account of one party’s psychological incapacity, courts are not demolishing the foundation of families, but it is actually protecting the sanctity of marriage.

This was emphasized by the Supreme Court in the case of De Silva vs De Silva ( G.R. No. 247985, October 13, 2021) as it refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological disorder, who cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations, from remaining in that sacred bond.

Article 36 of the Family Code holds that “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.”

The Court stressed that marriage is not just a civil contract, but a new relation, an institution the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested.

Given the particular nature of marriage characterized as a lifetime commitment which cannot be dissolved by simple whim of the parties, the State has surrounded it with safeguards to preserve its purity, continuity, and permanence, especially since the security and stability of the State is largely dependent on it.

The Court noted that the fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends on the strength of this interpersonal relationship.

A serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the relationship and consequently, the ability to fulfill the essential marital obligations.

The marital capacity of one spouse is not considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship to the other spouse.

Psychological incapacity refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies.

The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing proof to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage.

The Supreme Court reiterated its ruling in the case of Tan-Andal v. Andal (GR 196359, May 11, 2021) that psychological incapacity is a legal concept, not a medical one, where the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist as evidence is not mandatory in the declaration of nullity of marriage cases.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court took cognizance in the De Silva Case of the psychiatrist’s report which explained that husband’s psychological incapacity was rooted in his upbringing long before his marriage.

It pointed out that the spouse’ experience as a product of hostile home environment due to a broken family can be seen as a factor in judicial decisions on annulment in relation to psychological incapacity.

The wife cited, among others, incidents when she would fail to hand over money for the husband’s ardent gambling, she would be subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

The wife also found out that aside from his drinking and gambling, the husband maintained several extramarital affairs.

The report noted that the kind of relationship that the spouses have created is seen to be parasitic in the sense that the husband is feeding off from the efforts of the wife.

The psychiatrist was able to trace the history of the husband’s psychological condition and relate it to his existing incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage through interviews of the parties and the relatives.

It was his hostile family environment that deprived him of his awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he assumed.

The husband developed traits such as untrustworthiness, irresponsibility, aggressiveness, lack of compassion and remorse antedating the marriage.

The Court said that the culprits behind the development of these antisocial traits of the husband are the kind of parenting style that he was raised to and the home environment that he was exposed to during the early years of his life.

The broken family set-up and the actuations of his parents during the early years of his life have molded him into the kind of person that he became.

Having no good example to influence the husband in a healthy functioning and straighten his maladaptive manner of going about his expected tasks and roles, he had persisted to be reckless, immature, rebellious, and insensitive.

From childhood until adulthood, the husband failed to change and his irresponsible ways have become more prominent when he reached the latter stage of his development.

The marriage had deteriorated due to the psychological incapacitation of the husband as well as the relative psychological disturbance that the wife suffered from.

(Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786)

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