Civil Law

Republic v. Claur G.R. No. 246868. February 15, 2022 Psychological Incapacity, Declaration of Nullity of Marriage


Angelique Pearl Claur testified that she and Mark Claur were schoolmates in high school when they became girlfriend and boyfriend. 

During their relationship, they would alternately  break up and reconcile.

When they went to different universities for college, their fights became worse. They would curse each other and sometimes their quarrels would turn physically violent.

Then, she got pregnant unexpectedly when she was 20 years old while Mark was 21 years old. 

On January 3, 2009, they tied the knot. But after the wedding, they stayed in the house of Mark’s family. 

She then discovered that Mark lied to her about being only one semester away from his college graduation, he actually still needed several years to finish his degree. Another was that his father was not working for a certain company. Mark’s father was a security guard.

Subsequently, they moved in with her parents in Quezon. And on April 4, 2009, their son Malique Antonio was born. Mark, nonetheless, wanted to end their relationship. They separated several times, each incident lasting for a few days or a week. She alleged that their married life had been marred by quarrels, disagreements, and even violence. In one incident, he accidentally locked her up in the bathroom. When she finally got out, she and Mark fought and he hit her in the face, breaking her jaw.

When Mark eventually finished college, he made no attempt at all to find gainful employment. He was lazy, extravagant, and given to vices. 

Sometime in September 2011, she insisted that they part ways. Mark retaliated by falsely telling her parents that she had a male text mate and lover.

In January 2012, she was expecting to go out on a date with Mark to celebrate their anniversary. Mark, however, came home late and drunk. She then asked their household helper to pack Mark’s things. Mark left and they have since been separated in fact.

Dr. Jay Madelon Castillo-Carcereny testified that she is a physician and a psychiatrist. She personally examined Angelique Pearl. She also interviewed Angelique Pearl’s father Antonio Tan Ong.

Based on the interviews and tests she conducted, she diagnosed Angelique Pearl with “borderline personality disorder.”

As for Mark, although she was not able to personally examine him, the information she gathered from Angelique Pearl and Antonio, who personally saw Mark’s coping mechanisms when the couple lived with them, was adequate for her to diagnose Mark with “narcissistic personality disorder.”

Dr. Castillo-Carcereny explained that the root cause of their personality disorders was their respective dysfunctional families classified as “double bind” in Mark’s case and “pseudo hostility” in Angelique Pearl’s case. They had developed it during childhood and had become deeply entrenched in their persons such that neither of them thought they were problems, Any medication or recommended treatment to address the condition would be useless since each of the parties’ personality disorder is “grave, permanent and incurable.”

Dr. Castillo-Carcereny recommended that the marriage of Angelique Pearl and Mark be declared void on the basis of each party’s “psychological incapacity to perform essential marital obligations which manifested during early adulthood, increasing in gravity and severity from adolescence to present.”

Mark did not present evidence.

The RTC granted the petition on the ground of both parties’ psychological incapacity. It found that the totality of evidence shows that Angelique Pearl and Mark were both psychologically incapacitated to perform their marital obligations.

Acting for the Republic, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) moved for reconsideration, which was denied.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC and subsequently denied the OSG’s motion for reconsideration.


Whether the evidence on record sufficiently support the declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.


Article 36 of the Family Code recognizes the psychological incapacity of a spouse as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage, thus:

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.

Psychological incapacity is a legal, not a medical, concept

In the recent case of Tan-Andal v. Andal, the Court clarified that “psychological incapacity” should be understood as a legal concept rather than a medical one. As such, it does not require clinical diagnosis to be established. 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.

Tan-Andal, too, set new parameters in appreciating the three (3) main criteria for psychological incapacity. 

First, gravity still has to be established, if only to preclude spouses from invoking mild characterological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts as ground for nullity. 

Second, incurability should also be understood in the legal sense. So long as the couple’s respective personality structures are so incompatible and antagonistic that the only result of the union would be the inevitable breakdown of the marriage, the psychological incapacity of a spouse or both spouses is deemed “incurable”. 

Third, juridical antecedence or the existence of the condition prior to the celebration of marriage, is a statutory requirement which must be proven by the spouse alleging psychological incapacity.

Tan-Andal likewise decreed that the plaintiff-spouse must prove his or her case by clear and convincing evidence. Notably, this quantum of proof requires more than preponderant evidence but less than proof beyond reasonable doubt. The Court, nonetheless, reiterated that judgments in cases involving the alleged psychological incapacity of a spouse should be based on the totality of evidence adduced during the course of the proceedings. 

Each case must be resolved based on its particular set of facts and Article 36 of the Family Code applied on a case-to-case basis. 

The totality of evidence on record clearly and convincingly establishes the psychological incapacity of both Angelique Pearl and Mark

In Republic v. Mola Cruz, the Court stressed that the findings of the trial court on the existence or non-existence of a party’s psychological incapacity should be final and binding for as long as such findings and evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses and other evidence are not shown to be clearly and manifestly erroneous. A sharper pronouncement on the respect accorded to the trial court’s factual findings in the realm of psychological incapacity was made in Kalaw v. Fernandez, viz.:

It is not enough reason to ignore the findings and evaluation by the trial court and substitute our own as an appellate tribunal only because the Constitution and the Family Code regard marriage as an inviolable social institution. We have to stress that the fulfillment of the constitutional mandate for the State to protect marriage as an inviolable social institution only relates to a valid marriage. No protection can be accorded to a marriage that is null and void ab initio, because such a marriage has no legal existence.

Here, the Republic failed to provide compelling reason to convince the Court to deviate from the findings of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA. 

The totality of evidence presented clearly and convincingly show that both Mark and Angelique Pearl are psychologically incapacitated from discharging their respective duties as husband and wife.

First. Their psychological incapacity has juridical antecedence since their personality structures were manifest even before the celebration of their marriage.

Angelique Pearl admitted she got attracted to Mark despite his notoriety when they were still in high school. Their relationship had already been “rocky” since the beginning. Mark was too jealous and obsessed with her, yet, he still flirted with other women. When Mark tried to break-up with her, she threatened to commit suicide. On the other hand, when she tried to break up with Mark, he pressured her into staying together.

Unfortunately, their relationship turned for the worse after they got married.

Evidently, the testimony of Angelique Pearl successfully discharged the burden to prove her and Mark’s psychological incapacity. The trial court and the Court of Appeals properly gave credence to her personal account of what transpired before and during her marriage to Mark considering that “[t]he totality of the behavior of one spouse during the cohabitation and marriage is generally and genuinely witnessed mainly by the other.”

Clearly, the respective personality structures of Angelique Pearl and Mark were already present even before they got married. Their dysfunctional acts when they were in a boyfriend – girlfriend relationship and even when they were already husband and wife have made it impossible for either of them to understand and, more important, to comply with their essential marital obligations.

Second. The gravity of their condition cannot be categorized as mild characterological peculiarities, mood changes, and mere occasional emotional outbursts.

They resented each other and it never failed to manifest each time. Their relationship started from being “rocky”, to turbulent, to violent. Neither of them accorded the other the love and respect that was due to a spouse or life partner.

Third. Their respective personality structures are “incurable” in the legal sense. Their conditions prevented them from complying with their marital obligations as embodied in the Family Code, particularly the observance of mutual love, respect and fidelity, and rendering mutual help and support.

Their behavior before and after their wedding clearly manifests their psychological incapacity and show their utter lack of willingness to properly treat each other as husband and wife.

Fourth. The findings of Dr. Castillo-Carcereny support this conclusion.

To emphasize though, Tan-Andal categorically declared that the testimony of a medical expert is no longer required for purposes of establishing psychological incapacity as a legal concept. We no longer look at psychological incapacity as a medical condition or personality disorder, the root cause of which has to be identified. Instead, courts may rely on the testimonies of ordinary witnesses for purposes of determining whether one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated.

Verily, the fact alone that Dr. Castillo-Carcereny was not able to personally interview and administer tests on Mark does not render her findings inadmissible. As stated in Tan-Andal, expert opinion based on otherwise hearsay evidence could still be admitted if the facts are “of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon a subject.” The Court has ruled that doctors, within their acknowledged field of expertise, can diagnose the psychological make up of a person based on a number of factors culled from various sources.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DENIED. 

The marriage between Angelique Pearl O. Claur and Mark A. Claur is declared VOID on ground of their psychological incapacity. Accordingly, their property relation as husband and wife is DISSOLVED.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *