Infidelity as an alternative of incompetence |

A LAW EVERY DAY (KEEPING TROUBLE AWAY) – Jose C. Sison – The Philippine Star

September 10, 2021 | 12:00 noon

In order to annul a marriage due to a spouse’s psychological incapacity, the entirety of the evidence must show that the incapacity is psychological and not physical, with the result that one party is genuinely unable to recognize and comply with the basic marriage contracts fulfill. It must be characterized by severity, legal history and incurability. This is explained and illustrated in this case by Armand and Cely.

Armand met Cely when Cely was still the girlfriend of Armand’s boyfriend. After a while, Cely and her boyfriend split up to become Armand’s friend. After developing a strong sense of sexual desire and physical attraction to one another, they became favorites and got married appropriately. The couple initially lived in the city but later moved to several locations because of Cely’s aggressive behavior.

While they lived together, Cely engaged in gossip and reading comics. Armand asked her to limit gossiping with her neighbors, but Cely got angry and told him there wasn’t much to do in her house.

Despite their marital problems, the couple finally celebrated their church wedding when Cely was five months pregnant. But Cely’s behavior was no different afterwards. She kept clapping and fighting with her neighbors. Cely displayed not only aggressive behavior but also infidelity, especially when Nardo, a neighbor, got close to them and Armand found out about his affair with Cely. Armand forgave Cely, but Cely showed no remorse. Nardo Armand later revealed that their twin children weren’t actually Armand’s children, but his own. Armand then recalled an incident between him and Cely, in which the latter told him “hindi mo anak yan” when she got angry because Armand beat up one of her children.

After that, Cely had another affair with another neighbor, Wally. At one point Armand even spotted Wally hiding under her marriage bed, wearing only his pants. Armand then left their married home when Cely got angry and threw a knife at him, which struck the wall after asking Cely to check the pressure cooker and it exploded.

So Armand secured his own psychological assessment and that of Cely from Dr. Romy Lapuz. The results showed that Armand has an emotionally disturbed personality, but it is not severe enough to represent a mental disability. On the other hand, Cely’s research showed that she had borderline personality disorder with histrionic disorders. These findings are based on the interview with Armand and her friends Elsa and Kiko. Based on these findings, Armand filed an application for the annulment of her marriage on the grounds of Cely’s mental disability under Article 36 of the Family Code.

After a trial in which Armand testified and related the above incidents in their married life and Dr. Lapuz submitted his psychological assessment of Armand and Cely, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) denied the petition on the grounds that the entirety of the evidence presented was Cely’s psychological incapacity as it was not apparent that her characteristics were present at marriage or incurable.

After Armand appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA) after his retrial was denied by the RTC, the CA overturned and overturned the RTC’s decision. The CA decided that Cely’s attitude to being “Mabunganga” and having relationships with other men was linked to Dr. Lapuz, Cely is mentally incapable of fulfilling her marital obligations to Armand. Was the CA correct?

The Supreme Court said no. Dr. Lapuz cannot be accepted as credible as there was no other evidence to support the legal history, severity and incurability of Cely’s alleged incapacity for work. The report itself cited the statements of Armand and her friends Elsa and Kiko as the basis of the results. While Kiko and Elsa have been friends with the couple for more or less 30 years, that doesn’t mean they’ve known Cely any longer to know their circumstances personally. Nor was it known that Armand himself had any personal knowledge of Cely’s family background. So they couldn’t know Cely’s childhood or her upbringing.

Likewise, Cely’s sexual infidelity is not satisfactory evidence of her psychological incapacity. It must be shown that the infidelities are manifestations of a disordered personality that render them utterly incapable of fulfilling the essential obligations of marriage. Mental incapacity needs to be more than just a “difficulty,” “refusal,” or “neglect” in performing marital duties. It is not enough that one party has failed to fulfill the responsibility and duty of a married person. Being “Mabunganga” and having extramarital affairs are not sufficient indicators of a mental disorder. Therefore, the CA decision is overturned and annulled and Armand’s application for the annulment of her marriage is rejected for lack of justification (Republic vs. Calingo et al, GR 212717, March 11, 2020).

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