Annulment Rules in the Philippines are now lenient?

 Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country that does not have divorce laws, hence, people resort to filing Petitions for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage or for Annulments. The all too common ground is under Art. 36 of the Family Code on Psychological Incapacity. 

Art. 36 of the Family Code provides that marriage may be declared null and void if said spouse was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, even if it becomes manifest only after the solemnization of marriage. 

For the longest time, the decision of the SC in the Molina case stated that psychological incapacity must be medically identified and proven to exist at the time of the celebration of marriage, grave, and incurable. All too often, in unopposed petitions, if the court grants the Petition, the Office of the Solicitor General will file a motion for reconsideration or even an appeal on the ground that the petitioner could not prove that it is grave, there is juridical antecedence, and that it is incurable. 




Molina requires the presentation of expert witnesses through psychologists or psychiatrists. Fast forward to 2021, the SC modified the interpretation of psychological incapacity in the case of Tan-Andal v. Andal (GR No. 196359). The present case now states that psychological incapacity (which was previously a MEDICAL concept in the Molina case as well as several others that came after it) is now a LEGAL concept. The SC even went so far as to state that "[I]t need not be a mental or personality disorder. It need not be a permanent and incurable condition. Therefore, the testimony of psychologist or psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases. The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage." 

The new interpretation of psychological incapacity is that it is "a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies." 

Do we still need expert witnesses such as psychologists and psychiatrists? Most definitely we still do in order to shed more insight on the petitioner's experience regarding a spouse who cannot perform or comply with the essential requisites of marriage. The Tan-Andal case shows us that the SC has relaxed the stringent rules set in the Molina case.

Comments