751 Phil. 762
The said disorder [of Mary Grace] is considered to be severe, serious, grave, permanent and chronic in proportion and is incurable by any form of clinical intervention. It has already been deeply embedded within her system as it was found to have started as early as her childhood years. Because of such, it has caused her to be inflexible, maladaptive and functionally[-]impaired especially with regards to heterosexual dealings.On February 18, 2009, Glenn filed before the RTC a Petition for the Declaration of Nullity of his marriage with Mary Grace. Substituted service of summons was made upon Mary Grace through her aunt, Susana Rosita. Mary Grace filed no answer and did not attend any of the proceedings before the RTC.
Such disorder of [Mary Grace] is mainly characterized by grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy[,] along with her pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others[,] which utterly distorted her perceptions and views especially in terms of a fitting marital relationship. Such disorder manifested in [Mary Grace] through her unrelenting apathy, sense of entitlement and arrogance. Throughout her union with [Glenn], she has exhibited a heightened sense of self as seen in her marked inability to show proper respect for her husband. x x x She is too headstrong that most of the time[,] she would do things her own way and would not pay close attention to what her husband needed. She had been a wife who constantly struggled for power and dominance in their relationship and [Glenn], being too considerate to her, was often subjected to her control. x x x She is into many vices and loved hanging out with her friends at night[,] and she even got involved in an illicit relationship[,] which was still going on up to the present time. x x x.
The root cause of [Mary Grace’s] personality aberration can be said to have emanated from the various forms of unfavorable factors in her milieu way back as early as her childhood years[,] which is the crucial stage in the life of a person as this is the time when the individual’s character and behavior are shaped. [Mary Grace] came from a dysfunctional family with lenient and tolerating parents[,] who never impose any restrictions [upon] their children. Considering such fact, she apparently failed to feel the love and affection of the nurturing figures that she had[,] who were supposed to be the first to show concern [for] her. x x x She has acquired a domineering character as she was not taught to have boundaries in her actions because of the laxity she had from her caregivers and also because she grew up to be the eldest in the brood. She sees to it that she is the one always followed with regards to making decisions and always mandates people to submit to her wishes. She has not acquired the very essence of morality [and] has certainly learned set of unconstructive traits that further made her too futile to assume mature roles. Morals and values were not instilled in her young mind that as she went on with her life, she never learned to restrain herself from doing ill-advised things even if she is amply aware of the depravity of her actions.
The psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] is of a juridical antecedence as it was already in her system even prior to the solemnization of her marriage with [Glenn]. x x x. (Underlining ours)
The totality of the evidence presented by [Glenn] warrants [the] grant of the petition.The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) moved for reconsideration but it was denied by the RTC in its Order dated December 1, 2010.
Reconciliation between the parties under the circumstances is nil. For the best interest of the parties, it is best that the legal bond between them be severed.
The testimonies of [Glenn] and his witness [Rodelito] portray the miserable life [Glenn] had with [Mary Grace] who is a Narcissistic Personality Disordered person with anti[-]social traits and who does not treat him as her husband. [Glenn] and [Mary Grace] are separated in fact since the year 2006. [Mary Grace] abandoned [Glenn] without telling the latter where to go. x x x Had it not for the insistence of [Glenn] that he would not know the whereabouts of his wife. The law provides that [a] husband and [a] wife are obliged to live together, [and] observe mutual love, respect and fidelity. x x x For all intents and purposes, however, [Mary Grace] was in a quandary on what it really means. x x x.
From the testimony of [Glenn], it was established that [Mary Grace] failed to comply with the basic marital obligations of mutual love, respect, mutual help and support. [Glenn] tried his best to have their marriage saved but [Mary Grace] did not cooperate with him. [Mary Grace] is x x x, unmindful of her marital obligations.
The Court has no reason to doubt the testimony of [Dr. Tayag], a clinical psychologist with sufficient authority to speak on the subject of psychological incapacity. She examined [Glenn], and was able to gather sufficient data and information about [Mary Grace]. x x x This [Narcissistic] personality disorder of [Mary Grace] is ingrained in her personality make-up, so grave and so permanent, incurable and difficult to treat. It is conclusive that this personal incapacity leading to psychological incapacity is already pre-existing before the marriage and was only manifested after. It has become grave, permanent and incurable. (Underlining ours and italics in the original)
In Santos vs. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that “psychological incapacity” should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. 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. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The psychological condition must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.The CA, through the herein assailed Resolution dated August 7, 2013, denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Glenn.
In the instant case, [Glenn] tried to prove that [Mary Grace] was carefree, outgoing, immature, and irresponsible which made her unable to perform the essential obligations of marriage. He likewise alleged that she refused to communicate with him to save the marriage and eventually left him to work abroad. To Our mind, the above actuations of [Mary Grace] do not make out a case of psychological incapacity on her part.
While it is true that [Glenn’s] testimony was corroborated by [Dr. Tayag], a psychologist who conducted a psychological examination on [Glenn], however, said examination was conducted only on him and no evidence was shown that the psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] was characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability.
Certainly, the opinion of a psychologist would be of persuasive value in determining the psychological incapacity of a person as she would be in the best position to assess and evaluate the psychological condition of the couple, she being an expert in this field of study of behavior. Although the psychologist stated that respondent was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, she did not fully explain the root cause of the disorder nor did she make a conclusion as to its gravity or permanence. Moreover, she admitted that she was not able to examine the respondent[,] hence, the information provided to her may be subjective and self-serving.
Essential in this petition is the allegation of the root cause of the spouse’s psychological incapacity which should also be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage and shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It must also be grave enough to bring about the disability of the parties to assume the essential obligations of marriage as set forth in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to 225 of the Family Code and such non-complied marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the petition, established by evidence and explained in the decision.
Unfortunately for [Glenn], the expert testimony of his witness did not establish the root cause of the psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] nor was such ground alleged in the complaint. We reiterate the ruling of the Supreme Court on this score, to wit: the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: a) medically or clinically identified; b) alleged in the complaint; c) sufficiently proven by experts; and d) clearly explained in the decision.
Discoursing on this issue, the Supreme Court, in Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, has this to say:“Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological – not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis x x x[,] nevertheless[,] such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.”The Supreme Court further went on to proclaim, that “Article 36 of the Family Code is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves”. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.” Psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage.
From the foregoing, We cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage of the parties for the obvious failure of [Glenn] to show that the alleged psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability; and for his failure to observe the guidelines outlined in the afore-cited cases.
Verily, the burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to [Glenn]. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted from the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. (Citations omitted, underlining ours and emphasis and italics in the original)
In Bier v. Bier, we ruled that it was not enough that respondent, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in complying with his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations. Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor – an adverse integral element in the respondent’s personality structure that effectively incapacitated him from complying with his essential marital obligations – had to be shown and was not shown in this cited case.It is worth noting that Glenn and Mary Grace lived with each other for more or less seven years from 1999 to 2006. The foregoing established fact shows that living together as spouses under one roof is not an impossibility. Mary Grace’s departure from their home in 2006 indicates either a refusal or mere difficulty, but not absolute inability to comply with her obligation to live with her husband.
In the present case, the respondent’s stubborn refusal to cohabit with the petitioner was doubtlessly irresponsible, but it was never proven to be rooted in some psychological illness. x x x Likewise, the respondent’s act of living with another woman four years into the marriage cannot automatically be equated with a psychological disorder, especially when no specific evidence was shown that promiscuity was a trait already existing at the inception of marriage. In fact, petitioner herself admitted that respondent was caring and faithful when they were going steady and for a time after their marriage; their problems only came in later.
x x x To use the words of Navales v. Navales:Article 36 contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations. Mere “difficulty,” “refusal” or “neglect” in the performance of marital obligations or “ill will” on the part of the spouse is different from “incapacity” rooted on some debilitating psychological condition or illness. Indeed, irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only be due to a person’s refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage and not due to some psychological illness that is contemplated by said rule. (Citations omitted, underlining ours and emphasis in the original)
We cannot help but note that Dr. Tayag’s conclusions about the respondent’s psychological incapacity were based on the information fed to her by only one side – the petitioner – whose bias in favor of her cause cannot be doubted. While this circumstance alone does not disqualify the psychologist for reasons of bias, her report, testimony and conclusions deserve the application of a more rigid and stringent set of standards in the manner we discussed above. For, effectively, Dr. Tayag only diagnosed the respondent from the prism of a third party account; she did not actually hear, see and evaluate the respondent and how he would have reacted and responded to the doctor’s probes.In the case at bar, Dr. Tayag made general references to Mary Grace’s status as the eldest among her siblings, her father’s being an overseas contract worker and her very tolerant mother, a housewife. These, however, are not sufficient to establish and explain the supposed psychological incapacity of Mary Grace warranting the declaration of the nullity of the couple’s marriage.
Dr. Tayag, in her report, merely summarized the petitioner’s narrations, and on this basis characterized the respondent to be a self-centered, egocentric, and unremorseful person who “believes that the world revolves around him”; and who “used love as a…deceptive tactic for exploiting the confidence [petitioner] extended towards him.” x x x.
We find these observations and conclusions insufficiently in-depth and comprehensive to warrant the conclusion that a psychological incapacity existed that prevented the respondent from complying with the essential obligations of marriage. It failed to identify the root cause of the respondent’s narcissistic personality disorder and to prove that it existed at the inception of the marriage. Neither did it explain the incapacitating nature of the alleged disorder, nor show that the respondent was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some incapacity of a psychological, not physical, nature. Thus, we cannot avoid but conclude that Dr. Tayag’s conclusion in her Report – i.e., that the respondent suffered “Narcissistic Personality Disorder with traces of Antisocial Personality Disorder declared to be grave and incurable” – is an unfounded statement, not a necessary inference from her previous characterization and portrayal of the respondent. While the various tests administered on the petitioner could have been used as a fair gauge to assess her own psychological condition, this same statement cannot be made with respect to the respondent’s condition. To make conclusions and generalizations on the respondent’s psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side is, to our mind, not different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.
x x x x
A careful reading of Dr. Tayag’s testimony reveals that she failed to establish the fact that at the time the parties were married, respondent was already suffering from a psychological defect that deprived him of the ability to assume the essential duties and responsibilities of marriage. Neither did she adequately explain how she came to the conclusion that respondent’s condition was grave and incurable. x x x
x x x x
First, what she medically described was not related or linked to the respondent’s exact condition except in a very general way. In short, her testimony and report were rich in generalities but disastrously short on particulars, most notably on how the respondent can be said to be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder; why and to what extent the disorder is grave and incurable; how and why it was already present at the time of the marriage; and the effects of the disorder on the respondent’s awareness of and his capability to undertake the duties and responsibilities of marriage. All these are critical to the success of the petitioner’s case.
Second, her testimony was short on factual basis for her diagnosis because it was wholly based on what the petitioner related to her. x x x If a psychological disorder can be proven by independent means, no reason exists why such independent proof cannot be admitted and given credit. No such independent evidence, however, appears on record to have been gathered in this case, particularly about the respondent’s early life and associations, and about events on or about the time of the marriage and immediately thereafter. Thus, the testimony and report appear to us to be no more than a diagnosis that revolves around the one-sided and meagre facts that the petitioner related, and were all slanted to support the conclusion that a ground exists to justify the nullification of the marriage. We say this because only the baser qualities of the respondent’s life were examined and given focus; none of these qualities were weighed and balanced with the better qualities, such as his focus on having a job, his determination to improve himself through studies, his care and attention in the first six months of the marriage, among others. The evidence fails to mention also what character and qualities the petitioner brought into her marriage, for example, why the respondent’s family opposed the marriage and what events led the respondent to blame the petitioner for the death of his mother, if this allegation is at all correct. To be sure, these are important because not a few marriages have failed, not because of psychological incapacity of either or both of the spouses, but because of basic incompatibilities and marital developments that do not amount to psychological incapacity. x x x. (Citations omitted and underlining ours)