Civil Law

Cortez v. Cortez G.R. No. 224638 April 10, 2019 Article 36 of the Family Code, Psychological Incapacity


Petitioner Rolando D. Cortez  alleged that in February 1990, he was invited to a birthday party, and after consuming three bottles of beer, he became dizzy and passed out. When he woke up, he was already in a room with respondent Luz Cortez, clad only in his underwear and they were covered with a blanket. Respondent’s brother, a policeman, suddenly entered the room and said “May nangyari na pala sa inyo, dapat panagutan mo iyan.” 

Petitioner claimed that at the time, he was already scheduled to leave to work abroad as a seaman, he was stopped by a hold-departure order uponrespondent’s complaint as she was then pregnant; and that he was forced by respondent’s brothers to marry respondent before an MTC Judge on March 5, 1990. He likewise claimed that they never had a honeymoon nor sexual intercourse until he left to work as a seaman.

Petitioner averred that while he was abroad, respondent gave birth to a son named on September 14, 1990. When he came back to the Philippines in March 1991, he was forced by respondent and her brothers to attend the child’s baptism and paid for it. Since his return, he stayed in his sister’s house in Valenzuela City until his departure for abroad. While overseas, he was shocked to learn from respondent that she had given birth to a baby girl on February 3, 1992. 

He tried to religiously give support despite his doubts and reservations. However, in 1994, he came to know that respondent had a husband and a child in Samar, thus, he suspended giving support to respondent and the two children. However, respondent filed a case of abandonment against him but was later dismissed, as they executed a compromise agreement for the support of the children.

Petitioner claimed that a semenal examination which showed that he had low sperm count and did not have the capacity to impregnate a woman.

In her Answer, respondent alleged that she and petitioner were introduced by a common friend in 1988; that they became sweethearts and he would sleep over at her apartment. When she got pregnant, they decided to get married on March 5, 1990; that on September 14, 1990, their son was born and petitioner came home for his baptism; that she was five months pregnant when petitioner left again for abroad, and that the child was baptized upon petitioner’s return in October 1992. 

She claimed that their marital woes started in 1994 when petitioner told her that his new year’s wish was to be with another woman; that they began to have fights. 

She filed a complaint for abandonment and demanded support for their children. She learned that petitioner and Susan Barry are now living together.

On June 9, 2003, petitioner filed an Amended Petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage on the ground of his and respondent’s psychological incapacity. 

The RTC rendered its Decision denying the Petition.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which the RTC denied.

On appeal, the CA sustained the RTC Decision.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the CA denied.

Hence this petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner.


Whether the totality of evidence presented by petitioner shows that either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated to comply with their essential marital obligations which would result in the nullity of their marriage.


We find no merit in the petition.

Article 36 of the Family Code provides:

ART. 36. 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.

In Yambao v. Republic of the Phils., We stated:

Article 36 contemplates incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations and not merely difficulty, refusal, or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will. 

This incapacity consists of the following: 

(a) a true inability to commit oneself to the essentials of marriage; 

(b) this inability to commit oneself must refer to the essential obligations of marriage: the conjugal act, the community of life and love, the rendering of mutual help, the procreation and education of offspring; and 

(c) the inability must be tantamount to a psychological abnormality. 

It is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to some psychological illness.

In Republic of the Philippines v. Katrina S. Tobora-Tionglico, We held:

The psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code must be characterized by (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after marriage; and (c) incurability, i.e., it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.

We find no error was committed by the CA when it concurred with the RTC’s finding that petitioner failed to show that he and respondent were both psychologically incapable of knowing and performing their marital and parental obligations. A perusal of the records would show that such finding is supported by the evidence. We quote with approval the CA’s findings, in this wise:

x x x While petitioner-appellant described their marriage as one attended by force and reluctance, respondent-appellee painted a picture of an initially loving and harmonious relationship that turned sour after petitioner-appellant decided to be with another woman.

The pieces of evidence on record appear to be more in consonance with the version of respondent-appellee who incidentally, appears determined to save the marriage.

In this case, both parties undoubtedly comprehend the nature and importance of their spousal and parental duties. The letters of respondent-appellee to petitioner-appellant attached to his Reply dated 9 October 2003 – demonstrate the former’s capacity and willingness to understand and forgive the latter even after he had committed infidelity to their marital union. Petitioner-appellant described respondent-appellee to be deceitful and manipulative; yet, in contrast, she asked for his forgiveness for being a nagging wife and for being jealous. In Our view, these are not the qualities of a person who is psychologically incapacitated to understand and comply with the essential marital obligations espoused under the law.

Finally, even granting for the sake of argument that petitioner-appellant’s contentions are true, the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage would still fail because the juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability of the parties’ alleged psychological incapacity have not been proven. Here, the complained acts depicting the alleged psychological disorder of the parties happened after the marriage. There was likewise no showing of any underlying cause rooted in the parties’ childhood or adolescence that could have triggered a disorder. x x x Mere stubbornness or refusal to cohabit with his or her spouse or the act of cohabiting with another woman will not be automatically considered as a psychological disorder. Moreover, demanding financial support for one’s own children cannot even be considered morally or fundamentally wrong, much less a disorder.

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