In a rare move, the Philippine Supreme Court has ruled on relaxing its stance regarding annulments of marriage on the grounds of psychological incapacity.
The high court described the ruling, which has been been in place for 18 years, as “rigid.”
A 25-page decision by Associate Justice, Lucas Bersamin reversed a September 2011 ruling in an annulment case where it had affirmed a Court of Appeal decision upholding the marriage of two individuals.
“After taking a second hard look” at the facts of the case, the high court said it had to reverse the 2011 ruling which involves a petition for annulment filed by a husband whose wife constantly plays Mah Jong and displays narcissistic behavior.
Article #36 of the Family Code, which points out psychological incapacity as a grounds for annulment, should not be literally applied – the court set guidelines in 1997 for nullification of marriage due to psychological incapacity which include – the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be medially or clinically identified – alleged in the complaint – sufficiently proven by experts – proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of marriage and clinically or medically incurable, among others which are mentioned in the Family Code itself.
“The foregoing guidelines have turned out to be rigid, such that their application to every instance practically condemned the petitions for declaration of nullity to the fate of certain rejection,” the latest decision read.
Ample safeguards remain in place to ensure that petitions for annulment of marriage are decided with extreme care, the high court added.
Recent arguments for staunch supporters of the Family Code are worried that the massive influx of annulment cases – the high court should in fact be looking at the rising cases involving marital abuse, domestic violence and incestuous rape issues within marriages in the Philippines.