Lex Rex Ph

Comprehensive Guidelines on Psychological Capacity

The detailed list in the determination of Psychological Incapacity was laid down by the High Court in the case of Republic vs. Molina.

In the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code, the Court handed down the guidelines for the guidance of the bench and the bar:

Two amici curiae, namely, 

  • The Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz,9 Vicar Judicial (Presiding Judge) of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines
  • And Justice Ricardo C. Puno, served as primary basis for the following:

The Guidelines

1. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff/petitioner. Doubt favors marriage.

  • The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff/petitioner;
  • Family, 11 recognizing it “as the foundation of the nation.” It decrees marriage as legally “inviolable,” thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties

2. The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be:

  • a) medically or clinically identified, (Republic vs. Matias-Dagdag)
  • (b) alleged in the complaint,
  • (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. 
  • Expert evidence may be given qualified psychiatrist and clinical psychologists.

3. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage. (Juridical antecedence)

  • The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

4. Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. (Incurability)

  • Such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations;
  • Psychologically incapacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.

5. Must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. (Gravity)

6. Non-compliance with essential marital obligations

  • The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children;
  • Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

7. Catholic Tribunals greatly respected

Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.

8. Presence of Solicitor General

The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state.


Respondent Roridel and Reynaldo got married on April 1985, but after that, they had frequent and intense quarrels resulting to Reynaldo abandoning the wife on 1987. 

In 1989, Reynaldo filed an Answer admitted he and Roridel could no longer live together, citing 3 reasons grounded on unwillingness to handle responsibility. 

On August 16, 1990, respondent Roridel O. Molina filed a petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina due to alleged signs of “immaturity and irresponsibility” as a husband and a father since he preferred to spend more time with his peers and friends on whom he squandered his money. And as “a highly immature and habitually quarrel some individual who thought of himself as a king to be served.”

The RTC declared the marriage void. Petioner’s appeal to the CA was also denied. Thus, the instant petition.

The OSG insists that the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and incorrect interpretation of the phrase ‘psychological incapacity’ in Article 36 of the Family Code and made an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case. 

CA argues that “opposing and conflicting personalities” and “neglect by the parties to the marriage of their responsibilities and duties” are not equivalent defect in their psychological incapacity. 


Are signs of “immaturity and irresponsibility” as a husband and a father considered psychological incapacity? No.


“Incompatibility”, “difficult” and “irreconcilable differences” are not equal to incurable psychiatric disorder. The Court then laid down the 8 guidelines above to serve as guidance for the bench and bar in determining whether a case qualifies for annulment based on Psychological Incapacity.

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