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Opinion

Mental, not physical

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

Romantic episodes usually end up in marriage where the spouses live happily ever after, but not in this case of Noli and Fely.

Noli and Fely were schoolmates who were introduced by a mutual friend and became close to each other. Fely’s snobbish and hard-to-get attitude somehow attracted Noli and so he continued to court Fely until they became sweethearts several years later.

Noli’s family was aware of their relationship as he used to invite and bring Fely to their house to attend family gatherings and other festive occasions like birthdays, Christmas and fiesta celebrations. But Fely was inordinately shy and whenever she attended those occasions with Noli’s family, she was invariably aloof or snobbish. Not once did she try to get close to any of Noli’s family members. And when Noli would talk to her about her attitude she would promise to change but she never did.

So after about two years of being sweethearts, Noli decided to break up with Fely especially because he was already involved with another woman. Fely however refused and offered to accept Noli’s relationship with another woman so long as they would not sever their ties. To give Fely some time to get over their relationship, Noli still continued to see her although on a friendly basis.

Despite the efforts to keep their meetings on a friendly basis, Noli and Fely had several romantic moments together that usually end up in sexual intercourse. Noli took these episodes casually since Fely never demanded anything from him except his company. But a year later Fely informed Noli that she was pregnant with his child. Upon advice of Noli’s mother, Noli grudgingly agreed to marry Fely. So they were immediately wed before a Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of their place.

After the marriage ceremony, Noli and Fely agreed to live with Noli’s family in their house. But during all the time she stayed there, Fely remained aloof and did not go out of her way to endear herself to them. She would just come and go as she pleased and never contributed to the family’s coffer leaving Noli to shoulder the expenses for their support. Also, she refused to have any sexual contact with Noli.

When Noli did not notice any symptoms of Fely’s pregnancy despite her claim of being pregnant, Noli asked Fely’s officemates whether she manifested any signs of pregnancy. And they confirmed that she showed no such signs. Then about three months after their marriage, Fely did not go home for a day. And when she came home she told Noli and his family that she had a miscarriage and was confined at a hospital where her sister worked as a nurse.

Noli however continued to confront her about her alleged miscarriage and their discussions escalated into an intense quarrel which woke up the entire household. Noli’s mother tried to intervene but Fely shouted invectives at her prompting the latter to drive them out of the house. Fely thus called her parents who picked her up. She left Noli’s house and did not come back anymore.  Noli tried to communicate with her but when he went to her house nobody wanted to talk to him and she rejected her phone calls.

So after less than two years of marriage, Noli filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage with the Regional Trial Court. Despite summons, Fely did not participate in the proceedings. The RTC proceeded to hear the petition after the public prosecutor manifested that no collusion existed between the parties. The Office of the Solicitor General also did not submit any certification manifesting agreement or opposition to the case.

And so after trial, the lower court found that Fely failed to perform the essential marital obligations due to psychological incapacity characterized by juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability. The court relied heavily on the testimony of a clinical psychologist who found that Fely had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a very insecure person, emotionally immature with an exploitative attitude particularly in terms of financial rewards, and entered into the marriage not because of emotional desire for it as she viewed it merely like a piece of paper and that she can easily get rid of her husband without any provocation. So it declared Noli and Fely’s marriage null and void. Was the RTC correct?

No. Both the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Supreme Court (SC), held that Noli failed to establish that Fely’s supposed Narcissistic Personality Disorder was the psychological incapacity contemplated by law and that it was permanent and incurable. The CA and the SC rejected Noli’s argument that Fely’s senseless and constant refusal to have sex with him after they got married for purposes of procreation is enough proof of her psychological incapacity. These attitudes were merely mild peculiarities in character and signs of ill will and refusal or neglect to perform marital obligations. As Noli admitted, he had numerous sexual relations with Fely before their marriage. So it cannot be said that Fely is incapacitated to perform this particular obligation and that such incapacity existed at the time of marriage. Noli’s evidence merely established that Fely refused to have sexual intercourse with him after their marriage and that she left him after their quarrel when he confronted her about the alleged miscarriage.

Psychological incapacity is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It refers to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that cause a party to be truly non-cognitive of the basic marital covenants to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. It must be more than just a difficulty, a refusal or neglect to perform the essential marital obligations. Article 36 of the Family Code should not be confused with divorce law that cuts the marital bond when causes arise during the marriage such as irreconcilable differences.

(Baccay vs Baccay, G.R. 173138, December 1, 2010).

E-mail: [email protected]

ACIRC

AS NOLI

BOTH THE COURT OF APPEALS

BUT FELY

COURT

FAMILY

FELY

MARRIAGE

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

NOLI

NOLI AND FELY

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