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Opinion

Incapacitated husband

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

In dissolving the marital bonds on account of either party’s psychological incapacity, the Court is not demolishing marriage as foundation of the family but is actually protecting its sanctity. The Court is simply not allowing a person afflicted with psychological disorder who cannot comply with essential marital obligations to remain in the sacred bond. This is explained in this case of Remy and Danny.

Remy and Danny became sweethearts while still in high school. Even if Remy had already some doubts about Danny’s faithfulness and habits especially in drinking and gambling, Remy chose to remain with him until they got married. Their union, however, did not produce any children. Then after almost seven years, Remy filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code (FC), alleging that Danny’s personality rendered him completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of marriage.

Remy alleged and testified that as early as a week after their wedding, Remy was surprised to discover that the monetary gifts they had received, which was intended for deposit in a bank savings account, were used up by Danny for his gambling and cockfighting. Then in the succeeding months, Remy noticed a shift in Danny’s attitude. While she extended financial help to a business proposed by Danny, the latter would end up spending the capital to sustain his gambling and drinking, forcing her to work twice as hard to provide for their needs, doubling up her shifts in the dental clinic.

To make matters worse, when Remy would fail to give money for Danny’s gambling she would be subjected to physical and verbal abuse. During their quarrels, he would even resort to threats by pointing a knife at her. On several occasions Danny would punch her on the arm when she refused to support his vices, going as far as threatening to burn the house of Remy’s mother. Remy also found out that Danny maintained several extramarital affairs.

Danny even compelled Remy to provide monthly support to his mother. Then, without knowledge of Remy, he even borrowed money amounting to P300,000 for which she suffered so much stress because of the threats of three men who visited their home, resulting in her hospitalization. So Remy already left their conjugal abode but the threats continued, prompting her and her mother to report the incident to the police and the barangay, which issued a Barangay Protection Order (BPO).

Remy’s story was corroborated by several other witnesses and by Dr. Tamayo, who psychologically examined her and Danny in person through a telephone interview. Dr. Tamayo said that the marriage of Remy and Danny had deteriorated due to the psychological incapacitation of Danny as well as the relative psychological disturbance suffered by Remy.

Despite Danny’s denial of being psychologically incapacitated and his claim that their misunderstandings were not serious, the RTC rendered a judgment declaring the marriage of Remy and Danny void from the beginning under Article 36 of the FC.

The Court of Appeals (CA), however, reversed and set aside the RTC decision. According to the CA, Remy failed to show that Danny was suffering from a psychological condition so severe that he was unaware of his obligations to his wife and family. The CA also ruled that the report of Dr. Tamayo was highly suspect, as the information mainly was obtained from Remy and her mother while the interview with Danny was only through the phone and very brief. Was the CA correct?

The Supreme Court ruled that the CA is not correct. The SC said that void marriages under Article 36 of the FC promote wedlock among persons who, for reasons independent of their will, are not capacitated to understand or comply with the essential obligations of marriage. The FC echoes the constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes its permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

In this case, Remy was able to fully substantiate her allegations of their crumbling marital relationship. There was even a police report showing that on one occasion Danny even threatened to burn down the house of Remy’s mother. And as admitted by Danny himself, a BPO was indeed issued against him due to verbal abuse. Records also prove that Danny had taken out numerous loans, even pawning Remy’s jewelries, and selling to Remy’s mother his firearm for his selfish endeavors. All these he did without gaining employment, leaving his wife to fully support their family. Most telling is the fact that Danny abandoned the conjugal abode and separated from Remy seven years after their marriage.

With regards to the psychological report of Dr. Tamayo which lacked specificity according to the CA, it identified the tests administered on Remy and explained that Danny’s incapacity was rooted in his upbringing long before his marriage to Remy. Verily it was his hostile family that deprived him of his awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he assumed.

All told, the psychological report, taken together with the documentary and testimonial evidence presented, warrant the declaration that Danny is psychologically incapacitated to perform his essential marital obligations at the time of his marriage to Remy.

The fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends, according to Church decisions, on the strength of this marital relationship. A serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support impairs this relationship and consequently the marital capacity of one spouse is not considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship to the other spouse (De Silva vs De Silva and Republic of the Philippines, G.R. 247985, Oct. 13, 2021).

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Email: [email protected]

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT

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