SC rules: Psychological incapacity as grounds for nullity of marriage a 'legal concept'

SC rules: Psychological incapacity as grounds for nullity of marriage a 'legal concept'
The Supreme Court unanimously pronounced that “psychological incapacity is not a medical but a legal concept.”
The STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8:20 p.m.) — In a new ruling, the Supreme Court has held that psychological incapacity, among the grounds in the nullity of marriage, is a legal concept and not medical, and that testimonies from psychologists and psychiatrists will no longer be mandatory in this case.

In a statement on Tuesday, the SC Public Information Office said the high court “unanimously modified the interpretation of the requirements of psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage found in Article 36 of the Family Code.”

The tribunal, in Tan-Andal v. Andal, ruled that psychological incapacity “refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental martial 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.”

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 martial obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”

Testimony of psychiatrist no longer mandatory

The SC PIO also said that the court held that psychological incapacity need not to be a mental or personality disorder, nor does it need to be a permanent or incurable condition.

“Therefore, the testimony of psychologist or psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases. The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage,” it added.

No other detail was released on the ruling.

The SC PIO said several concurring opinions were also submitted, but it has yet to make the full decision public.

Other requisites for marriage is found in Article 3 of the Family Code which lists: the authority of the solemnizing officer, a valid marriage license, and a marriage ceremony where the parties appear before the solemnizing officer and their declaration that they take each other as husband and wife, in presence of at least two witnesses.

The absences of the formal requisites as stated shall render void ab initio (void from the beginning), except when the solemnized person is not legally authorized to perform marriages.

Meanwhile at the House of Representatives, its committee on population and family relations approved House Bills 100, 838 and 2263 that seek to institutionalize absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage in the country.

House of Representatives’ records showed a technical working group deliberated on the proposed measures in March 2020. — Kristine Joy Patag


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to "annulment" rather than nullity of marriage. It has been corrected.

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