The current trend in cases decided by the Supreme Court seems to uphold the validity of rocky (even dead) marriages as a recent case decided by the High Court prevented the dissolution of a marriage on the most common ground– psychological incapacity.
In this case, a married couple went their separate ways for more than 5 years, and the husband even lived with a third party and bore 3 children with her. After the long separation, the husband decided to legally end his first marriage and filed a petition for declaration of nullity (“annulment” to laymen) in court.
The petitioner (husband) went through the usual procedures of proving his wife’s psychological incapacity by:
- presenting a psychologist and an expert (priest) in canon law
- alleging that he caught his wife in a hotel room with another man
- alleging that she played mahjhong all the time and neglected her children
- went out at night frequently and dated other men
The wife refuted all these allegations saying that she played mahjhong only 3 times a week and always with the husband’s consent, that she was never caught in plain view half naked in a hotel room with another man, and that she took care of all her children. After battling it out in the lower court and Court of Appeals, the parties presented their case to the Supreme Court which upheld the validity of the marriage. It viewed the acrimony and infidelity of the spouses as circumstances which may have prevented them from keeping their marriage– possible grounds for legal separation, but not necessarily constitutive of psychological incapacity to nullify the marriage. (The case of Valerio Kalaw vs. Ma. Elena Fernandez, G.R. No. 166357, Sept. 19. 2011)
Personal note: After having been separated from her husband for so many years, and with full knowledge that he already lives with another woman and 3 children, what could possibly be the reason for the wife’s opposition to the declaration of nullity on ground of psychological incapacity? Pride can be self-defeating.