Civil Law

PEREZ-FERRARIS vs. FERRARIS G.R. No. 162368 July 17, 2006 Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, Psychological Incapacity, Article 36 of the Civil Code



The RTC rendered a Decision denying the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioner’s marriage with Brix Ferraris. The trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy does not amount to psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were insufficient to prove infidelity. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied where the trial court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.

Petitioner appealed to the CA which affirmed in toto the judgment of the trial court.


Whether or not the marriage of petitioner and respondent is void ab initio on the ground of respondent’s psychological incapacity.



It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court, save for the most compelling and cogent reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts, which are unavailing in the instant case.

The term “psychological incapacity” to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.

As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.

It is for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained, which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate.

Indeed, the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his “defects” were already present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable.

We find respondent’s alleged mixed personality disorder, the “leaving-the-house” attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals, where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than his family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was dishonest to his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the psychological defects spoken of were more of a “difficulty,” if not outright “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitute psychological incapacity; it is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological, not physical, illness.

An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage. No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally “inviolable” and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state.



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