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Supreme Court eases definition of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment

By Bim Santos Published May 12, 2021 4:40 pm

The Supreme Court has revised a previous definition of “psychological incapacity,” saying now that proving such in relation to annulment need not require the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist.

In a press briefer from the Supreme Court Public Information Office, it said that “psychological incapacity” has now been modified in a new ruling as “a legal concept,” not a medical one.

“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. It need not be a mental or personality disorder. It need not be a permanent and incurable condition,” the briefer stated.

With the new interpretation, the Supreme Court said that the testimony of a psychiatrist or psychologist “is not mandatory in all cases.”

“The totality of the evidence must show clear and convincing evidence to cause the declaration of nullity of marriage,” the Supreme Court’s press briefer said.

The new interpretation of psychological incapacity under the Family Code comes from the unanimous ruling penned by Justice Marvic Leonen in the case of Tan-Andal vs Andal during an en banc deliberation on May 11.

Article 36 of the Family Code states that a marriage is void if a spouse “was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage… even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”