Broken family and psychological disability in cancellation cases


Psychological incapacity in annulment cases can be attributed to the spouse’s hostile family environment which is the product of a broken family.

In De Silva v. De Silva (GR 247985, October 13, 2021), the Supreme Court took note of the psychiatrist’s report, which explained that the husband’s psychological incapacity was rooted in his upbringing long before his marriage.

The wife cited in the annulment case, among other things, incidents where she would not hand over money for the husband’s ardent gambling, she would be subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

The wife also discovered that in addition to his drinking and gambling, the husband had several extramarital affairs.

The report notes that the type of relationship the spouses have created is considered parasitic in the sense that the husband feeds on the efforts of the wife.

The psychiatrist was able to trace the history of the psychological state of the husband and relate it to his existing disability at the time of the celebration of the marriage through interviews with the parties and relatives.

It was his hostile family environment that deprived him of the awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he assumed.

The husband developed traits such as lack of confidence, irresponsibility, aggression, lack of compassion and remorse before marriage.

The Court said that the culprits for the development of these antisocial traits in the husband are the type of parenting style he was raised in and the family environment he was exposed to during the first years of his life.

The broken family structure and the actions of his parents in the early years of his life shaped him into the kind of person he became.

Having no good example to influence the husband into healthy functioning and straighten out his unsuitable way of carrying out his expected duties and roles, he had persisted in being reckless, immature, rebellious and callous.

From childhood to adulthood, the husband failed to change, and his irresponsible ways became more prominent when he reached the last stage of his development.

The marriage had deteriorated due to the psychological incapacity of the husband as well as the relative psychological disorder suffered by the wife.

The Supreme Court reiterated its decision in the recent case of Tan Andal v. andal (GR 196359, May 11, 2021) that psychological incapacity is a legal and not a medical concept, where the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist as proof is not mandatory in the declaration of nullity of marriage.

The unanimous decision changed the interpretation of the psychological incapacity requirements, which was authored by my UP law professor, Judge Marvic Leonen.

The Supreme Court noted that psychological incapacity refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse from complying with basic marital obligations only to a specific partner who may exist at the time of the marriage but who may have revealed by post-ceremonial behavior.

All of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to lead to the declaration of nullity of marriage.

While ideally the person to be diagnosed should be interviewed personally, it is accepted practice in psychiatry to base a person’s psychiatric history on collateral information or information from sources other than the person being assessed. This is usually done if the patient is unavailable, unable or uncooperative.

The Supreme Court added that it need not be a mental or personality disorder. It doesn’t have to be a permanent, incurable condition.

Article 36 of the Family Code provides that “the marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was in the psychological incapacity to comply with the essential conjugal obligations of the marriage, is also null, even if this incapacity manifests itself only after its solemnity”.

Atti. Dennis R. Gorecho leads the seafarers division of the law firms Sapalo Velez Bundang and Bulilan. For comments, e-mail [email protected]or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.


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