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Maricar Corina P.

Canaya
LLB-I

Did SC relax its rules on psychological incapacity as a ground for


annulment?

There was a sudden flood in my newsfeed when The


Philippine Daily Inquirer posted an article entitled SC relaxes
rules on psychological incapacity as ground to annul marriages. A
sudden influx of comments flooded the said article, which was
published on March 9.
Perhaps the sudden question that lawyers and law students
asked is, did the Supreme Court really reduced its rules on
psychological capacity based on Article 36 1 of the Family Code? Is

1 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. (As amended by EO No. 227)

the case of Kalaw vs Fernandez2 relaxing the guidelines set by the


Court in the case of People vs Molina3?
The Molina Doctrine provided us rules in the interpretation
and application of Article 36. These are the following:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage
belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity;
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be
medically or clinically identified, alleged in the complaint,
sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision;
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time
of the celebration of the marriage;
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or
clinically permanent or incurable;

2 G.R. No. 166357, 14 January 2015


3 G.R. No. 108763February 13, 1997

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the


disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of
marriage;
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced
by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband
and wife, as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children;
(7)

Interpretations

given

by

the

National

Appellate

Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines,


while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by
our courts; and,
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state.
The Kalaw vs Fernandez ruling, which was penned by
Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, was promulgated on January
14, 2015. The aforementioned case acknowledged that the
guidelines in the case of People vs Molina is rigid, such that their
application to every instance practically condemned the petitions
for declaration of nullity to the fate of certain rejection.

In

the

Kalaw

case,

the

petitioners

allegations

of

respondents constant mahjong sessions, visits to the beauty


parlor, going out with friends, adultery, and neglect of their
children constituted a psychological incapacity in the form of nonperformance of duty.
But petitioners claim, which was the bases of the
conclusions of his experts, were not actually proven.
The ruling in the Kalaw case clarified that the failure to
show the frequency of mahjong sessions does not rule out
psychological incapacity. It is not the frequency that should be the
basis in determining the presence of psychological capacity, but
the obvious failure to fully deliver the responsibilities of
parenthood at the time she made her marital vows. The rule does
not detract from the Molina Doctrine. Thus, there is no relaxation
in the psychological incapacity rule.
Perhaps, the relaxed that was mentioned in the Inquirer
report was the statement the rules set in People vs Molina are
rigid.

Kalaw vs Fernandez, as stressed out by the Supreme Court,


does not suggect the abandonement of the Molina Case. In fact, it
was reiterated in the said ruling that: Lest it be misunderstood,
we are not suggesting the abandonment of Molina in this
case. We simply declare that, x x x there is need to emphasize
other perspectives as well which should govern the disposition
of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36.
If we try to look at it, there is no way that the Kalaw case
relaxes any guidelines in psychological incapacity in relation to
Article 36. In fact, other perspective, as was mentioned in the
abovementioned case can run similar with the Molina Doctrine.
The intention not to define Article 36 simply means that the
provision should not be static; it is intended to be a living
provision, with courts guided by experience, the findings of
experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by
decisions of church tribunals.4
The Kalaw case gave a clarity to us that even if a particular
case does not fall exactly under the Molina Doctrine, the court
4 Pamaos, Fred. http://jlp-law.com/blog/the-relaxation-of-rules-in-declarationof-nullity-of-marriage-10-things-you-should-know/. 10 March 2015

must still examine the evidence provided by the plaintiff and must
apply other perspectives which may constitute psychological
incapacity.