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G.R. No. 196359
11 May 2021


Mario Victor M. Andal (Mario) and Rosanna L. Tan (Rosanna) were married on 16 December 1995. On 27 July 1996, Rosanna gave birth to Ma. Samantha, the only child of the parties. The family lived in a duplex in Paranaque City, with Rosanna’s parents living in the other half of the duplex.

According to Rosanna, even before their marriage, Mario would be extremely irritable and moody. She also had observed, at the beginning of their marriage, that Mario is emotionally immature, irresponsible, irritable, and psychologically imbalanced. Mario would also leave their house for several days without informing Rosanna of his whereabouts, and whenever he returned home, he would refuse to go out and would sleep for days. When Rosanna confronted Mario about his erratic behavior, she learned that Mario was using drugs. Mario promised to stop using it, but he did not keep his promise.

When Rosanna gave birth to Ma. Samantha, Mario allegedly did not assist her, leaving her in the hospital even though he knows that she could not move until the effects of the anesthesia had worn off. Mario would only return to the hospital later that evening to sleep. Moreover, when Rosanna and Ma. Samantha were discharged from the hospital, Mario showed symptoms of paranoia. Further, during the times when Ma. Samantha was sick, Mario would instead ignore her.

Rosanna had to eventually closed Design and Construction Matrix due to financial losses. Mario’s access to the company funds for his drug use allegedly used up the funds.

Rosanna then petitioned the Regional Trial Court (“RTC”) to voluntarily commit Mario for drug rehabilitation at the National Bureau of Investigation Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, and, eventually, at the Seagulls Flight Foundation (Seagulls). Mario escaped from Seagulls on 14 February 200, but he was recommitted again and remained confined there until 24 December 2000, when the rehabilitation center released Mario without completing his rehabilitation program.

Since Mario’s premature release from the rehabilitation center, Rosanna and Mario had separated and had not lived together. Mario also failed to give support to Rosanna and Ma. Samantha.

These events, according to Rosanna, showed Mario’s psychological incapacity to comply with his essential marital obligations to her.

To prove Mario’s psychological incapacity, Rosanna presented Dr. Valentina Del Fonso Garcia (Dr. Garcia), a physician-psychiatrist, as expert witness. Dr. Garcia diagnosed him with narcissistic antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse disorder with psychotic features. Mario’s narcissistic antisocial personality disorder, which Dr. Garcia found to be grave, with juridical antecedence, and incurable, allegedly rendered Mario psychologically incapacitated to comply with his essential marital obligations to Rosanna. Dr. Garcia testified that Mario’s personality disorder was grave and “deeply rooted” in his character.

The Regional Trial Court voided the marriage between Rosanna and Mario as it ruled that Rosanna discharged the burden of proving Mario’s psychological incapacity. The Court of Appeals however reversed the trial court’s decision and found that Dr. Garcia’s psychiatric evaluation of Mario to be “unscientific and unreliable” since she diagnosed Mario without interviewing him. The Court of Appeals ruled that Dr. Garcia “was working on pure suppositions and second-hand information fed to her by one side.”

Rosanna contends, before the Supreme Court, that psychological incapacity need not be grounded on a particular psychological illness psychological incapacity need not be grounded on a particular psychological illness. Rosanna adds that psychological incapacity is incurable, but not necessarily in a medical or clinical sense. For her, incurability is manifested by ingrained behavior manifested during the marriage by the psychologically incapacitated spouse.


Whether or not psychological incapacity needs to be medically or clinically identified.


No. It was in Molina where this Court laid down the guidelines for interpreting and applying Article 36. Under the second guideline in Molina, 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. In Santos vs. Court of Appeals (“Santos”) the term psychological incapacity” was first defined as a “mental (not physical) incapacity” to comply with the essential marital obligations. “Psychological incapacity” must refer to “the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.” In the past, the Court was inconsistent in requiring expert evidence in psychological incapacity cases. Not all cases promulgated after Marcos required the totality of evidence rule.

In light of the foregoing, the Court now categorically abandons the second Molina guideline. Psychological incapacity is neither a mental incapacity nor a personality disorder that must be proven through expert opinion. There must be proof, however, of the durable or enduring aspects of a person’s personality, called “personality structure,” which manifests itself through clear acts of dysfunctionality that undermines the family. The spouse’s personality structure must make it impossible for him or her to understand and, more important, to comply with his or her essential marital obligations. Proof of these aspects of personality need not be given by an expert. Ordinary witnesses who have been present in the life of the spouses before the latter contracted marriage may testify on behaviors that they have consistently observed from the supposedly incapacitated spouse.

As to the juridical antecedence requirement, the Court held that the psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code is incurable, not in the medical sense, but in the legal sense; hence, the third Molina guideline is amended accordingly. This means that the incapacity is so enduring and persistent with respect to a specific partner and contemplates a situation where the couple’s respective personality structures are so incompatible and antagonistic that the only result of the union would be the inevitable and irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

Considering the foregoing, the Court finds Mario psychologically incapacitated to comply with his essential marital obligations. Rosanna discharged the burden of proof required to nullify her marriage to Mario. Clear and convincing evidence of Mario’s psychological incapacity consisted mainly of testimony on Mario’s personality structure and how it was formed primarily through his childhood and adult experiences, well before he married Rosanna. In addition to Rosanna’s testimony, Dr. Garcia recounted how Mario developed traits exhibiting chronic irresponsibility, impulsivity and lack of genuine remorse, lack of empathy, and sense of entitlement-behaviors manifesting his inherent psychological incapacity to comply with his essential marital obligations.

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