Impulsive moves

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

Acting on impulse sometimes ends up into something regrettable as shown in this case of Dan.

Dan belongs to an affluent family whose father is very domineering, treating his wife and children practically as robots. Thus Dan is very much attached to his parents and depended on them for decisions. He acts in a self denigrating manner and displays a self-defeating attitude that encourages other people to take advantage of him.

So when Dan met Maggie who is as domineering as his father, he immediately fell in love with her and agreed on impulse to wed her in civil rites after a few months of courtship. They did not however live together as husband and wife since Dan was made to believe that their marriage was not for real. But Maggie’s domineering ways became the source of their frequent quarrels thus forcing Dan to just avoid her instead of confronting her. Then a year later he decided to stop seeing Maggie and started dating other girls. But he received prank calls warning him to stop dating other girls as he was already a married man. That was the time when he found out upon inquiry that his marriage was not faked as he was initially made to believe.

Feeling confused and at a loss, he sought his mother’s advice. His mother then told him to get a lawyer who advised Dan to file an action for declaration of nullity of his marriage to Maggie on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

At the trial, Dan presented a psychological expert who told the court of his findings that Dan was suffering from “mixed self-defeating and dependent personality disorder brought about by dysfunctional family.” He also suffered from partner relationship problem during his marriage to Maggie which, according to the expert was not really a marriage since Dan did not really understand what marriage means. In fact said marriage was never consummated as there was no sexual intercourse between them at all. Thus the expert concluded that Dan’s personality disorder was grave and incurable and already existent at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Is the expert testimony sufficient evidence to establish Dan’s psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of his marriage to Maggie?

Yes. By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task and burden of decision making, must consider as essential and should be guided by the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines and by decisions of church tribunals.

In this case, it has been sufficiently established by the testimony of the expert that Dan was suffering from a dependent personality disorder that was grave, incurable and deeply rooted.

Dependent personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of dependent and submissive behavior and lack of self-esteem. Persons with such disorder frequently belittle their capabilities as they fear and are easily hurt by others’ comments. At times they actually bring about dominance by others through a quest for over-protection. They are unable to make everyday decisions without advice or reassurance from others so they allow others to make most of their important decisions. They also tend to agree with people even when they believe they are wrong; have difficulty starting projects or doing things on their own; volunteer to do demeaning things just to get approval from other people; feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone and are often preoccupied with fears of being abandoned.

These personality disorders are long-standing inflexible ways of behaving that are not so much severe mental disorders as dysfunctional styles of living. These disorders affect all areas of functioning and, beginning in childhood or adolescence, create problems for those who display them and for others.

In this case, it has been shown that Dan is indeed suffering from psychological incapacity in the form of personality disorder that renders him unable to perform the essential obligations of marriage. Hence the marriage of Dan and Maggie is indeed void and inexistent (Halili vs. Halili and Republic, G.R. 1654254, June 9, 2009) 

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