In a petition for nullity of marriage, is it mandatory that the person alleged to be psychologically incapacitated be personally examined by a psychologist or psychiatrist?
In one case, the petitioner claimed that the totality of the evidence was enough to prove the psychological incapacity of respondent; hence, according to him, the guidelines enunciated in Molina case, specifically its directive that the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained, and that it must be proven to be existing at the inception of the marriage, need not be strictly complied with.
The Supreme Court took pains to explain that the totality of evidence is not enough. Such must still prove the gravity, root cause, incurability and the fact that the psychological incapacity existed prior to or at the time of celebration of the marriage.
To quote the Supreme Court in the 2008 case of Bier vs. Bier, et. al.:
"The trial court apparently overlooked the fact that this Court has been consistent in holding that if a petition for nullity based on psychological incapacity is to be given due course, its gravity, root cause, incurability and the fact that it existed prior to or at the time of celebration of the marriage must always be proved. As early as Santos v. CA, et al., we already held that:
[P]sychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.
xxx This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated.
xxx (Emphasis supplied)
These must be strictly complied with as the granting of a petition for nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity must be confined only to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This is specially so since the Family Code does not define psychological incapacity. The determination thereof is left solely to the discretion of the courts and must be made on a case-to-case basis.
Also, even if Molina was never meant to be a checklist of the requirements in deciding cases involving Article 36 (psychological incapacity) of the Family Code, a showing of the gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the party's psychological incapacity and its existence at the inception of the marriage cannot be dispensed with. In Marcos v. Marcos (Marcos), a case cited by petitioner to support his argument that the totality of evidence presented was enough to prove the existence of respondent's psychological incapacity, this Court reiterated that:
The [Molina] guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals: "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be "medically or clinically identified." What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the party's psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to.
xxx xxx xxx
[t]he totality of his acts does not lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable. (Emphasis supplied)
Furthermore, the 2005 case of Republic v. Iyoy held that even if Marcos (2000) relaxed the rules such that the personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, the totality of evidence must still prove the gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the alleged psychological incapacity. Failure in this regard will spell the failure of the petition.
From the foregoing, one can conclude that petitioner's insistence that Marcos effectively overturned the need to present evidence on the aforesaid requirements has no merit. Thus, unless the law itself or the Court provides otherwise, these requirements must be established before a petition for nullity of the marriage based on psychological incapacity can be granted.
We hold that the trial court's decision to declare the parties' marriage void ab initio by reason of respondent's psychological incapacity was clearly and manifestly erroneous as it overlooked the need to show the gravity, root cause and incurability of respondent's psychological incapacity and that it was already present at the inception of the marriage."
As a practical and prudent solution then, and in order to satisfactorily convince the court of the gravity, root cause and incurability of respondent's psychological incapacity and that it was already present at the inception of the marriage, a personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, by a psychiatrist or psychologist, must still be presented and offered by the petitioner.