What is Psychological Incapacity and how does it affect a Marriage


2 min read

Short answer: Psychological Incapacity is a state of mind of the husband or wife or both that affects or hinders them to comply with the essential obligations of marriage. When either one or both of them have it, their marriage can be declared void from the beginning.

Psychological Incapacity as a topic is broad enough and it is often used as one of the grounds for the declaration of nullity of a marriage.

Every couple as husband and wife should to live together, observe mutual love, respect, fidelity, and render mutual help and support. This is according to the Article 68, Civil Code of the Philippines.

The Philippines is one of the few remaining countries in the world that do not have a Divorce Law. Meaning, you cannot divorce your lawfully wedded partner here in the Philippines. So what then is an “Annulment” and how does it differ from “Divorce”?

Divorce is a law that terminates a valid marriage. The marriage of the couple as husband and wife is valid and binding and because there is a divorce law that allows them to, their marriage can be terminated at will. Again, there is no such thing in the Philippines.

What the Philippines have are Legal Separation and Annulment. The latter is the process of declaring a marriage invalid because of a defect or for being void from the beginning.

If your marriage is valid or is not defective, it cannot be annulled and you will remain married for the reason that there is no divorce law in the Philippines.

To understand further, take these examples:

  1. H and W got married. Their marriage is valid because they have complied with all the formal and essential requisites of marriage under Philippine Laws. Can they terminate their marriage by way of an Annulment? No, because there is no defect in their marriage. Their marriage can only be terminated should there be a Divorce Law or any one of them will die.
  2. H and W got married. Sometime after the wedding, W found out that H has Psychological Incapacity, and this had started already before they even got married only that the symptoms manifested only when they started to live together. It turns out that the same was proven to be grave and incurable. Can W file an Annulment of marriage against H? Yes, on the ground of Psychological Incapacity on the part of H, and if this is proven in court, the latter will declare the marriage void from the beginning.

Divorce is a law that terminates a marriage, while Annulment is a process of declaring a marriage invalid because of a defect or for being void from the beginning.

Psychological Incapacity is not the same as a Psychiatric disorder which affects persons we often see on the streets and mental institutions. A person can be known to be a best friend, a good company or co-worker, active in the community or the church but can still be suffering from Psychological Incapacity.

How to prove Psychological Incapacity?

Under the Law, for a marriage to be declared void due to psychological incapacity, the following elements must be present:

  1. Gravity – the said incapacity must be grave that he or she can no longer comply with the obligations of marriage as laid down by the law;
  2. Incurability - The psychological incapacity can no longer be medicated like undergoing family counseling nor interventions made by psychiatrist or psychologist; and
  3. Juridical Antecedence – the said incapacity must be present even before the marriage even though it had only manifested its symptoms after the celebration of marriage.
A marriage certificate heading.

What are the evidence/s that can be used to prove psychological incapacity?

Psychological Incapacity can be proven by way of a Psychological Evaluation or Reports done by experts like registered psychologists or psychiatrists, a Case Study made by a registered Social Worker, and/or the testimonies of the witnesses that have personal knowledge that the husband or wife is having such incapacity.

Any kind of documentary, object, or testimonial evidence must prove that the above-mentioned elements of psychological incapacity exist otherwise, the petition will fail.

When the Family Court is convinced that indeed psychological incapacity is present among the husband, the wife, or both, it can declare that the marriage is void from the beginning, nevertheless, it cannot affect the legitimacy of the children born during the marriage, if there are any.

Marriage happened not only because of the love between the couple but it is also a way to create a family – the basic unit of society.

The strength of a family shows the strength of a community and the person that it produces. A dysfunctional family is one of the causes for the proliferation of the problems in society while a highly functional family is a reason for a developed country.

Every one of us is a member of a family and we have a responsibility for its development and progress. May this information is used to assess ourselves and our families not to tear it apart or for any selfish motives, but to give what is right and due to it not just to make it better but ultimately for our peace of minds which might have been disturbed due to a wrong decision.

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