Supreme Court revises rules on annulment; testimony of doctor not required

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The Supreme Court en banc on Wednesday released a unanimous decision modifying the interpretation of the requirements of psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage.

According to the high court, psychological capacity is a legal concept, and not a medical one, therefore the testimony of a psychiatrist or psychologist should no longer be mandatory as part of the evidence in every case.

“It refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies,” the statement read.

It added, “It need not be a mental or personality disorder. It need not be a permanent and incurable condition. Therefore, the testimony of psychologist or psychiatrist is not mandatory in all cases.”

The ponente of the decision, Justice Marvic Leonen, said the totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing proof to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage.

Article 36 of the Family Code provides that marriages shall be void ab initio if one of the parties was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage. It can also be considered void even if the incapacity manifests after the wedding.

In the Philippines — the only remaining nation in the world besides the Vatican City where divorce is prohibited — there are only two options for separation: annulment and legal separation.

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