Civil Law

Mendoza vs. Republic G.R. 157649, Nov. 12, 2012 Psychological Incapacity

FACTS: 

Petitioner wife appeals the decision promulgated on March 19, 2003, whereby the CA reversed the judgment of the RTC declaring her marriage with respondent Dominic C. Mendoza as null and void. The CA held the testimonies of petitioner’s witnesses insufficient to establish Dominic’s psychological affliction to be of such a grave or serious nature that it was medically or clinically rooted.

Petitioner assails the CA’s refusal to be bound by the expert testimony and psychiatric evaluation she had presented in the trial of the case, and the CA’s reliance on the pronouncements in Dagdag, Hernandez and Pesca, supra. She contends that the report on the psychiatric evaluation conducted by Dr. Samson more than complied with the requirements prescribed in Santos v. Court of Appeals  and Molina. She insists that the CA should have applied the ruling in Marcos v. Marcoso the effect that personal medical or psychological examination was not a requirement for a declaration of psychological incapacity.

 

ISSUES:

  1. Is OSG appeal no longer required under A.M. No. 02-11-10?
  2. Whether or not the totality of evidence presented was enough to support a finding of respondent’s psychological incapacity.

 

RULING:

  1. The contention is grossly erroneous and unfounded. The Resolution nowhere stated that appeals by the OSG were no longer required. On the contrary, the Resolution explicitly required the OSG to actively participate in all stages of the proceedings. The obvious intent of the Resolution was to require the OSG to appear as counsel for the State in the capacity of a defensor vinculi (i.e., defender of the marital bond) to oppose petitions for, and to appeal judgments in favor of declarations of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, thereby ensuring that only the meritorious cases for the declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity-those sufficiently evidenced by gravity, incurability and juridical antecedence-would succeed.

2. We consider the CA’s refusal to accord credence and weight to the psychiatric report to be well taken and warranted. The CA correctly indicated that the ill-feelings that she harbored towards Dominic, which she admitted during her consultation with Dr. Samson, furnished the basis to doubt the findings of her expert witness; that such findings were one-sided, because Dominic was not himself subjected to an actual psychiatric evaluation by petitioner’s expert; and that he also did not participate in the proceedings; and that the findings and conclusions on his psychological profile by her expert were solely based on the self-serving testimonial descriptions and characterizations of him rendered by petitioner and her witnesses.

By the very nature of cases involving the application of Article 36, it is logical and understandable to give weight to the expert opinions furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological temperament of parties in order to determine the root cause, juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability of the psychological incapacity. However, such opinions, while highly advisable, are not conditions sine qua non in granting petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. At best, courts must treat such opinions as decisive but not indispensable evidence in determining the merits of a given case. In fact, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical or psychological examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. The trial court, as in any other given case presented before it, must always base its decision not solely on the expert opinions furnished by the parties but also on the totality of evidence adduced in the course of the proceedings.

 

 

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