CASE DIGEST: Baccay v. Baccay (G.R. No. 173138, December 1, 2010)

G.R. No. 173138 : December 1, 2010




Noel and Maribel were schoolmates at the Mapua Institute of Technology. Noel courted Maribel, but it was only after years of continuous pursuit that Maribel accepted Noels proposal and the two became sweethearts. Noel considered Maribel as the snobbish and hard-to-get type, which traits he found attractive.Noels family was aware of their relationship for he used to bring Maribel to their house. Noel observed that Maribel was inordinately shy when around his family so to bring her closer to them, he always invited Maribel to attend family gatherings and other festive occasions. Maribel, however, would try to avoid Noels invitations and whenever she attended those occasions with Noels family, he observed that Maribel was invariably aloof or snobbish. Noel would talk to Maribel about her attitude towards his family and she would promise to change, but she never did.

Noel decided to break up with Maribel because he was already involved with another woman. To give Maribel some time to get over their relationship, they still continued to see each other albeit on a friendly basis. Despite their efforts to keep their meetings strictly friendly, however, Noel and Maribel had several romantic moments together. Then, sometime in November 1998, Maribel informed Noel that she was pregnant with his child. Upon advice of his mother, Noel grudgingly agreed to marry Maribel. Noel and Maribel were immediately wed on November 23, 1998 before Judge Gregorio Dayrit of MTC QC. During all the time she lived with Noels family, Maribel remained aloof and did not go out of her way to endear herself to them.

Surprisingly, despite Maribels claim of being pregnant, Noel never observed any symptoms of pregnancy in her. Then, sometime in January 1999, Maribel did not go home for a day, and when she came home she announced to Noel and his family that she had a miscarriage and was confined at the Chinese General Hospital where her sister worked as a nurse.

Noel confronted her about her alleged miscarriage sometime in February 1999. The discussion escalated into an intense quarrel which woke up the whole household. Maribel left Noels house and did not come back anymore. Noel tried to communicate with Maribel but when he went to see her at her house nobody wanted to talk to him and she rejected his phone calls.

After less than two years of marriage, Noel filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage with the RTC of Manila. Despite summons, Maribel did not participate in the proceedings. Thereafter, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of Noel. The RTC found that Maribel failed to perform the essential marital obligations of marriage, and such failure was due to a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder characterized by juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability as determined by a clinical psychologist.

On appeal by the OSG, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC. The appellate court held that Noel failed to establish that Maribels supposed Narcissistic Personality Disorder was the psychological incapacity contemplated by law and that it was permanent and incurable. Noel filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage is void under Article 36 of the Family Code

HELD: No. CA Decision Affirmed.

CIVIL LAW- Psychological capacity as a ground in resolving petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage

In Republic of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, the Court laid down the guidelines in resolving petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage, based on Article 36 of the Family Code, to wit:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state.

In this case, the totality of evidence presented by Noel was not sufficient to sustain a finding that Maribel was psychologically incapacitated. Noels evidence merely established that Maribel refused to have sexual intercourse with him after their marriage, and that she left him after their quarrel when he confronted her about her alleged miscarriage. He failed to prove the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity and establish the requirements of gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability.

As correctly observed by the CA, the report of the psychologist, who concluded that Maribel was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder traceable to her experiences during childhood, did not establish how the personality disorder incapacitated Maribel from validly assuming the essential obligations of the marriage. Indeed, the same psychologist even testified that Maribel was capable of entering into a marriage except that it would be difficult for her to sustain one. Mere difficulty, it must be stressed, is not the incapacity contemplated by law.

Petition Denied