CASE DIGEST: Agraviador vs. Agraviador

G.R. No.170729 : December 8, 2010




The petitioner first met the respondent in 1971 at a beerhouse where the latter worked. The petitioner, at that time, was a 24-year old security guard of the Bureau of Customs, while the respondent was a 17-year old waitress. Their meeting led to a courtship, and they eventually became sweethearts. They often spent nights together at the respondents rented room, and soon entered into a common-law relationship. OnMay 23, 1973, the petitioner and the respondent contracted marriage in a ceremony officiated by Reverend Juanito Reyes at a church in Tondo,Manila. Out of their union, the petitioner and the respondent begot four (4) children, namely: Erisque, Emmanuel, Evelyn, and Eymarey. Petitioner filed with the RTC a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with the respondent, under Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended. He alleged that the respondent was psychologically incapacitated to exercise the essential obligations of marriage as she was carefree and irresponsible, and refused to do household chores like cleaning and cooking; stayed away from their house for long periods of time; had an affair with a lesbian; did not take care of their sick child; consulted a witch doctor in order to bring him bad fate; and refused to use the family name Agraviador in her activities. The petitioner likewise claimed that the respondent refused to have sex with him since 1993 because she became very close to a male tenant in their house. In fact, he discovered their love notes to each other, and caught them inside his room several times. In her answer, the respondent denied that she engaged in extramarital affairs and maintained that it was the petitioner who refused to have sex with her. She claimed that the petitioner wanted to have their marriage annulled because he wanted to marry their former household helper, Gilda Camarin. She added that she was the one who took care of their son at the hospital before he died.

The RTC nullified the marriage of the petitioner and the respondent in its decision and saw merit in the petitioners testimony and Dr. Patacs psychiatric evaluation report. The CA, in its decision, reversed and set aside the RTC resolution, and dismissed the petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is basis to nullify the petitioners marriage to the respondent on the ground of psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.

CIVIL LAW: petition for declaration of nullity of marriage

The petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is anchored on Article 36 of the Family Code which provides 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." It introduced the concept of psychological incapacity as a ground for nullity of marriage, although this concept eludes exact definition. The initial common consensus on psychological incapacityunder Article 36 of the Family Code was that it did not involve a species of vice of consent.

Psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence; and (c) incurability. It should refer to "no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage." It must be confined to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.

There is no requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a conditionsine qua nonfor the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to introduce expert opinion in a petition under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality of evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability can be duly established.

It is the petitioners theory the respondents psychological incapacity is premised on her refusal or unwillingness to perform certain marital obligations, and a number of unpleasant personality traits such as immaturity, irresponsibility, and unfaithfulness. These acts do not rise to the level of psychological incapacity that the law requires, and should be distinguished from the difficulty, if not outright refusal or neglect, in the performance of some marital obligations that characterize some marriages. The intent of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders existing at the time of the marriage clearly demonstrating an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. Thepsychological illness that must have afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is about to assume.

In the present case, the petitioners testimony failed to establish that the respondents condition is a manifestation of a disordered personalityrootedon some incapacitating or debilitating psychological condition that makes her completely unable to discharge the essential marital obligations. If at all, the petitioner merely showed that the respondent had some personality defects that showed their manifestationduringthe marriage; his testimony sorely lacked details necessary to establish that the respondents defects existed at the inception of the marriage.In addition, the petitioner failed to discuss thegravityof the respondents condition; neither did he mention that the respondents malady wasincurable, or if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the respondents means to undertake. The petitioners declarations that the respondent does not accept her fault, does not want to change, and refused to reform are insufficient to establish a psychological or mental defect that is serious, grave, or incurable as contemplated by Article 36 of the Family Code.

The petition for review on certiorari is DENIED.