Thursday, December 16, 2010

Republic vs. CA and Molina

Republic v. CA and Molina
GR 108763, 13 February 1997


Roridel Olaviano was married to Reynaldo Molina on 14 April 1985 in Manila, and gave birth to a son a year after. Reynaldo showed signs of “immaturity and irresponsibility” on the early stages of the marriage, observed from his tendency to spend time with his friends and squandering his money with them, from his dependency from his parents, and his dishonesty on matters involving his finances. Reynaldo was relieved of his job in 1986, Roridel became the sole breadwinner thereafter. In March 1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and proceeded to Baguio City. Reynaldo left her and their child a week later. The couple is separated-in-fact for more than three years.

On 16 August 1990, Roridel filed a verified petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina. Evidence for Roridel consisted of her own testimony, that of two of her friends, a social worker, and a psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. Reynaldo did not present any evidence as he appeared only during the pre-trial conference. On 14 May 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the marriage void. The Solicitor General appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals denied the appeals and affirmed in toto the RTC’s decision. Hence, the present recourse.

Issue: Whether opposing or conflicting personalities should be construed as psychological incapacity


The Court of Appeals erred in its opinion the Civil Code Revision Committee intended to liberalize the application of Philippine civil laws on personal and family rights, and holding psychological incapacity as a broad range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse indicative of how he or she regards the marital union, his or her personal relationship with the other spouse, as well as his or her conduct in the long haul for the attainment of the principal objectives of marriage; where said conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to cause the union to self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage, warrants the dissolution of the marriage.

The Court reiterated its ruling in Santos v. Court of Appeals, where psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity, existing at the time the marriage is celebrated, and that there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of ‘psychological incapacity’ to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. Psychological incapacity must be characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability. In the present case, there is no clear showing to us that the psychological defect spoken of is an incapacity; but appears to be more of a “difficulty,” if not outright “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations. Mere showing of “irreconcilable differences” and “conflicting personalities” in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity.

The Court, in this case, promulgated the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code, removing any visages of it being the most liberal divorce procedure in the world: (1) The burden of proof belongs to the plaintiff; (2) the root cause of psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified, alleged in the complaint, sufficiently proven by expert, and clearly explained in the decision; (3) The incapacity must be proven existing at the time of the celebration of marriage; (4) the incapacity must be clinically or medically permanent or incurable; (5) such illness must be grave enough; (6) the essential marital obligation must be embraced by Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code as regards husband and wife, and Articles 220 to 225 of the same code as regards parents and their children; (7) interpretation made by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church, and (8) the trial must order the fiscal and the Solicitor-General to appeal as counsels for the State.

The Supreme Court granted the petition, and reversed and set aside the assailed decision; concluding that the marriage of Roridel Olaviano to Reynaldo Molina subsists and remains valid.


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