December 8, 2022

A testimony of a psychiatrist or a psychologist to validate that a marriage should be dissolved due to “psychological incapacity” by either or both spouses is no longer a requirement in cases involving the nullification of marriages, the Supreme Court said.

In an en banc decision in the case of Tan-Andal vs. Andal issued on May 11, the SC said psychological incapacity is not a medical, but a legal concept.

Article 36 of the Family Code states 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 be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

The Family Code states for a marriage to declared null due to psychological incapacity, it must be medically or clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts and the incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage and the incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable.

In its May 11 decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the SC modified the meaning of psychological incapacity in the Family Code and said the condition refers to 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 marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies. It need not be a permanent and incurable. Therefore, the testimony of a psychologist or a psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases.

The SC said totality of evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage. – Rimaliza A. Opiña