SC revises rules on nullity of marriage: Doctor testimony not required, psychological incapacity a legal concept

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) — The Supreme Court en banc on Wednesday issued a unanimous decision that modifies the interpretation of requirements of psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage.

The high court said psychological capacity is a legal concept, not a medical one, therefore the testimony of a psychologist or psychiatrist as evidence is not mandatory.

"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 said in a statement.

The Supreme Court 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."

Justice Marvic Leonen, who penned the unanimous decision, 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 states that marriages shall be void from the beginning 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 country in the world besides the Vatican City where divorce is prohibited — there are only two options for separation: Annulment and legal separation.