“The reason why our marriage failed is that my husband is a serial womanizer. After several attempts at reconciliation, I drew the line when he threatened to hurt me and our children. He no longer provides support for our children nor reside in our conjugal home as he now lives with another woman. Is it possible for me to use this as a ground to have our marriage declared null and void?”
No. Painful as this may be, under Article 52 of the Family Code, Sexual infidelity or perversion, Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent, or attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner are only grounds for Legal Separation. They will not sever the marriage bonds but will only entitle the parties to live separately and liquidate their community or conjugal property, among others.
A subsequent marriage or any intimate relation by either party may have them possibly criminally liable for bigamy, adultery or concubinage.
A Declaration of Nullity renders the marriage null and void from its inception. Psychological Incapacity is one of the grounds to which will render the marriage void ab initio.
Art. 36 of the Family Code states: A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. (As amended by Executive Order 227).
There is no hard and fast rule that would define and substantiate what psychological incapacity is. But as provided by law, it refers to a spouse’s inability or unwillingness to comply with the essential marital obligations.
What are these essential marital obligations?
The Family Code enumerates the marital obligations as follows: (a) To procreate children based on the universal principle that procreation of children though sexual cooperation is the basic end of marriage; (b) To live together under one roof for togetherness spells the unity in marriage; (c) To observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, for love, sexual comfort and loyalty to one another are the basic postulates of marriage; (d) To render mutual help and support for assistance in necessities, both temporal and spiritual, is essential to sustain the marriage. (Article 68 of the Family Code of the Philippines) (e) To jointly support the family for the spouses are joint administrator in the partnership. (Article 70 of the Family Code of the Philippines) (f) Not to commit acts which will bring danger, dishonor or injury to each other or to the family for the safety and security of the family at all times is a primordial duty of the spouses. (Article 72 of the Family Code of the Philippines).
What needs to prove in this case is that the incapacity to fulfill the essential marital obligations must be that the same is psychological in nature, it must be so grave to medically declare it incurable and that the incapacity must be existing at the time of the marriage, although it may have become manifest only after the marriage.
A psychiatric evaluation of the parties is not required by law, but the findings and testimony of a psychiatrist as an expert witness will most definitely substantiate the action to prove the ‘psychological incapacity’ of the other party.
The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in the case of Republic vs. Molina has laid down the guidelines to determine one as psychologically incapacitated. However, the court’s determination would still be depend on the facts of the case at hand.
Given this, one should seek the services of an Annulment Lawyer, preferably one who has a strong background in Family Law, with solid experience in handling annulment cases. Making the decision to liberate oneself from a debilitating marriage is a tough first step, finding yourself a good lawyer who will listen to you and present your case to the court will assure you that you have a sound counsel who will ease the burden for you as you see this process through.