REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, VS. CESAR ENCELAN, G.R. No. 170022, January 09, 2013.
"x x x.
Applicable Law and Jurisprudence on Psychological Incapacity
Article 36 of the Family Code governs psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage. It 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.”
In interpreting this provision, we have repeatedly stressed that psychological incapacity contemplates “downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations”;1 not merely the refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant spouse.2 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.3
Cesar failed to prove Lolita’s psychological incapacity
In this case, Cesar’s testimony failed to prove Lolita’s alleged psychological incapacity. Cesar testified on the dates when he learned of Lolita’s alleged affair and her subsequent abandonment of their home,4 as well as his continued financial support to her and their children even after he learned of the affair,5 but he merely mentioned in passing Lolita’s alleged affair with Alvin and her abandonment of the conjugal dwelling.
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.6 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.7 No evidence on record exists to support Cesar’s allegation that Lolita’s infidelity and abandonment were manifestations of any psychological illness.
Cesar mistakenly relied on Dr. Flores’ psychological evaluation report on Lolita to prove her alleged psychological incapacity. The psychological evaluation, in fact, established that Lolita did not suffer from any major psychiatric illness.8 Dr. Flores’ observation on Lolita’s interpersonal problems with co-workers,9 to our mind, does not suffice as a consideration for the conclusion that she was — at the time of her marriage — psychologically incapacitated to enter into a marital union with Cesar. Aside from the time element involved, a wife’s psychological fitness as a spouse cannot simply be equated with her professional/work relationship; workplace obligations and responsibilities are poles apart from their marital counterparts. While both spring from human relationship, their relatedness and relevance to one another should be fully established for them to be compared or to serve as measures of comparison with one another. To be sure, the evaluation report Dr. Flores prepared and submitted cannot serve this purpose. Dr. Flores’ further belief that Lolita’s refusal to go with Cesar abroad signified a reluctance to work out a good marital relationship10 is a mere generalization unsupported by facts and is, in fact, a rash conclusion that this Court cannot support.
In sum, we find that Cesar failed to prove the existence of Lolita’s psychological incapacity; thus, the CA committed a reversible error when it reconsidered its original decision.
Once again, we stress that marriage is an inviolable social institution11 protected by the State. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of its existence its existence and continuation and against its dissolution and nullity.12 It cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties nor by transgressions made by one party to the other during the marriage.
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1 Kalaw v. Fernandez, G.R. No. 166357, September 19, 2011, 657 SCRA 822, 836-837.
2 Agraviador v. Amparo-Agraviador, G.R. No. 170729, December 8, 2010, 637 SCRA 519, 538; Toring v. Toring, G.R. No. 165321, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 389, 405; Paz v. Paz, G.R. No. 166579, February 18, 2010, 613 SCRA 195, 205; Navales v. Navales, G.R. No. 167523, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 272, 288; Paras v. Paras, G.R. No. 147824, August 2, 2007, 529 SCRA 81, 106; Republic of the Phils. v. Iyoy, 507 Phil. 485, 502 (2005); and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 664, 678 (1997).
3 Kalaw v. Fernandez, supra note 21, at 823; Republic v. Galang, G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 524, 544; Dimayuga-Laurena v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159220, September 22, 2008, 566 SCRA 154, 161-162; Republic v. Cabantug-Baguio, G.R. No. 171042, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 711, 725; Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, 377 Phil. 919, 932 (1999); and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, supra, at 676.
4 Supra note 10.
5 Supra note 11.
6 The Family Code, Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
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(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;
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(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
7 Toring v. Toring, supra note 22, at 406.
8 Supra note 13.
9 Supra note 15.
10 Supra note 16.
11 Bolos v. Bolos, G.R. No. 186400, October 20, 2010, 634 SCRA 429, 439; and Camacho-Reyes v. Reyes, G.R. No. 185286, August 18, 2010, 628 SCRA 461, 464.
12 Ochosa v. Alano, G.R. No. 167459, January 26, 2011, 640 SCRA 517, 524; Republic v. Cabamug-Baguio, supra note 23, at 727; and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, supra note 23, at 676.