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Lucita Estrella Hernandez vs CA and Mario Hernandez (Private Respondent) GR 126010 December 8, 1999 FC 36 Habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity

y and abandonment do NOT by themselves constitute grounds for declaration of a marriage void based on psychological incapacity Clear evidence of psychological incapacity DURING the celebration of the marriage must be shown

Facts

Petitioner and private respondent (PR) met in 1977 at the Philippine Christian University, Cavite. Petitioner was a teacher and was 5 years older than PR. Petitioner was PRs teacher for two consecutive semesters and they became sweethearts in 1979 when petitioner was no longer the teacher of PR. The two married on January 1, 1981 and three children were born to them. From 1983-1986 petitioner supported the family financially through her business and teaching salary. PR was a spendthrift, an alcoholic, a gambler and a womanizer (with one illegitimate child). This caused the failure of petitioners business. In spite of all of these, petitioner forgave and accepted PR to try and save the marriage, however, PR continued with his philandering ways. This resulted to the PR beating up the petitioner and causing her cerebral concussions because of petitioners queries about PRs other women. The PRs promiscuity even resulted to both parties contracting gonorrhea and received treatment from 1986-1987. On July 10, 1992, petitioner filed at the RTC a petition to annul their marriage on the grounds of psychological incapacity of the PR and alleging that from the time they contracted the marriage until the filing of this petition, PR was unable to perform the essential obligations of a spouse. On August 1, 1992 petitioner wrote a letter to the PR who had then abandoned them, stating that she would file a petition for annulment. PR never replied and was said to be in the middle east, his whereabouts were never really discovered. Alfaro, a friend of the petitioner, testified during the trial and corroborated all the allegations of the petitioner. On April 10, 1993 the RTC dismissed the petition for annulment and said that the circumstances proven constitute legal separation and not a declaration of nullity of the marriage. The CA, citing the case of Santos vs CA, affirmed the decision of the RTC.

Issue

WON the marriage of the petitioner with the PR may be annulled on the grounds of psychological incapacity Held [No] In the instant case, other than her self-serving declarations, petitioner failed to establish the fact that at the time they were married, PR was suffering from a psychological defect which in fact deprived him of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and its concomitant responsibilities. As the Court of Appeals pointed out, no evidence was presented to show that PR was not cognizant of the basic marital obligations. It was not sufficiently proved that PR was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some incapacity of a psychological nature, and not merely physical. Petitioner says that at the outset of their marriage, private respondent showed lack of drive to work for his family. PR parents and petitioner supported him through college. After his schooling, although he eventually found a job, he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by his employer and spent the entire amount he received on himself. For a greater part of their marital life, private respondent was out of job and did not have the initiative to look for another. He indulged in vices and engaged in philandering, and later abandoned his family. Petitioner concludes that private respondents condition is incurable, causing the disintegration of their union and defeating the very objectives of marriage. However, PRs alleged habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for finding that he is suffering from a psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make private respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, and not merely due to private respondents youth and self-conscious feeling of being handsome, as the appellate court held. As pointed out in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise cause of private respondents psychological incapacity, if any, in order to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests upon petitioner. The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social

institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. WF the decision of the CA is affirmed