Nilda Navales vs Reynaldo Navales

G.R. NO. 167523 – 556 SCRA 272 – Civil Law – Persons and Family Relations – Family Code – Nullity of Marriage – Article 36: Psychological Incapacity

In 1986, Nilda and Reynaldo met in a local bar where Nilda was a waitress. Because of his fear that Nilda may be wed to an American, Reynaldo proposed to Nilda and they got married in 1988. Reynaldo is aware that Nilda has  an illegitimate child out of wedlock. The 1st year of their marriage went well until Nilda began to work when she neglected some of her duties as a wife. She later worked as a gym instructor and according to Reynaldo’s allegations; her job makes her flirt with her male clients. She also drives home with other guys even though Reynaldo would be there to fetch her. She also projected herself as single. And she refused to have a child with Reynaldo because that would only destroy her figure. Reynaldo then filed a petition to have their marriage be annulled. He presented her cousin as a witness that attested that Nilda was flirting with other guys even with Reynaldo’s presence. Reynaldo also presented the findings of a psychologist who concluded that based on Nilda’s acts, Nilda is a nymphomaniac, who has a borderline personality, a social deviant, an alcoholic, and suffering from anti-social personality disorder, among others, which illnesses are incurable and are the causes of Nilda’s psychological incapacity to perform her marital role as wife to Reynaldo. Nilda on her part attacked Reynaldo’s allegations. She said that it is actually Reynaldo who is a womanizer and that in fact she has filed a case of concubinage against him which was still pending. She also said that she only needs the job in order to support herself because Reynaldo is not supporting her. She also showed proof that she projected herself as a married woman and that she handles an aerobics class which is exclusive to females only. The RTC and the CA ruled in favor of Reynaldo.

ISSUE: Whether the marriage between Reynaldo and Nilda is null and void on the ground of Nilda’s psychological incapacity.

HELD: The petition must be granted because the State’s participation in this case is wanting. There were no other pleadings, motions, or position papers filed by the Public Prosecutor or OSG; and no controverting evidence presented by them before the judgment was rendered.  And even if the SC would consider the case based on the merits, the petition would still be granted. The acts presented by Reynaldo by themselves are insufficient to establish a psychological or mental defect that is serious, incurable or grave as contemplated by Article 36 of the Family Code. 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. The SC also finds the finding of the psychological expert to be insufficient to prove the PI of Nilda. The testimonies presented by people the expert interviewed were not concretely established as the fact as to how those people came up with their respective information was not as well shown. There is no proof as well that Nilda had had sex with different guys – a condition for nymphomia. There being doubt as to Nilda’s PI the SC ruled that this case be resolved in favor of the validity of marriage.

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