Case Digest: Republic vs. Encelan

G.R. No. 170022, January 9, 2013




Respondent Cesar married Lolita and the union bore two children. To support his family, Cesar went to work in Saudi Arabia. While still in Saudi Arabia, Cesar learned that Lolita had been having an illicit affair with Alvin Perez (Alvin). Subsequently, Lolita allegedly left the conjugal home with her children and lived with Alvin. Since then, Cesar and Lolita had been separated. Thereafter, Cesar filed with the RTC a petition against Lolita for the declaration of the nullity of his marriage based on Lolitas psychological incapacity.

At the trial, Cesar affirmed his allegations of Lolitas infidelity and subsequent abandonment of the family home. He testified that he continued to provide financial support for Lolita and their children even after he learned of her illicit affair with Alvin.

RTC declared Cesars marriage to Lolita void. Upon reconsideration, CA affirmed the RTCs decision. The Office of the Solicitor General then filed the present petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not there exists sufficient basis to nullify the marriage.

HELD: The petition is meritorious.

CIVIL LAW: Psychological Incapacity

Article 36 of the Family Code governs psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage. In interpreting this provision, the Court have repeatedly stressed that psychological incapacity contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not merely the refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving the juridical antecedence (i.e., the existence at the time of the celebration of marriage), gravity and incurability of the condition of the errant spouse. In this case, Cesars testimony failed to prove Lolitas alleged psychological incapacity.

In any event, sexual infidelity and abandonment of the conjugal dwelling, even if true, do not necessarily constitute psychological incapacity; these are simply grounds for legal separation. To constitute psychological incapacity, it must be shown that the unfaithfulness and abandonment are manifestations of a disordered personality that completely prevented the erring spouse from discharging the essential marital obligations.

Petition is GRANTED. The decision of CA is set aside.