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Najera vs.

Najera
G.R. 164817 July 3, 2009
Facts:
Digna Najera filed with the RTC a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage with Alternative Prayer
for Legal Separation, and Designation as Administrator of the Conjugal Partnership of Gains.
Digna alleged that she and Eduardo are residents of Bugallon, Pangasinan, but Eduardo is presently
living in the U.S. There were married on January 31, 1988; they are childless. Digna claimed that at the
time of the celebration of the marriage, Eduardo was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the
essential marital obligations of marriage, and manifested only after the marriage as shown by the
following facts:
a.) At the time of marriage, Digna was employed as an accounting clerk and Eduardo was jobless.
He did not exert enough effort to find a job and was dependent on Digna for support.
b.) While employed as a seaman, Eduardo did not give Digna sufficient financial support.
c.) When Eduardo came home from his ship voyage, he started to quarrel with Digna and falsely
accused her of having an affair. He became a drunkard, started smoking marijuana and also
forced her into it. When she refused, he insulted her through unprintable words.
d.) Quarreling was constant and he continued with his vices. He also attempted to kill her with a
bolo but she was able to parry the attack.
e.) Eduardo left the family home taking along all their personal belongings.
Petitioner prayed that an order be issued appointing her as the sole administrator of their conjugal
properties and judgment be rendered declaring their marriage void ab initio on the ground of
psychological incapacity.
Respondent filed his answer wherein he denied the allegations and averred that petitioner was
incurably immature, of dubious integrity, with very low morality, and guilty of infidelity. He claimed that
the subject house and lot were acquired through his sole effort and money.
From the interviews of Psychologist Cristina Gates to Digna (not Eduardo since he was abroad), it was
clear that Eduardo is afflicted with psychological hang-ups which are rooted in the kind of family
background he has (his parents are separated and his brothers are also separated from their respective
wives). Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Eduardo is afflicted with a borderline
personality disorder. Furthermore, the ingestion of prohibited substances is known to cause irreparable
damage organically. Psychologist Gates also testified that the chances of curability of respondents
psychological disorder were nil.
Digna contends that her evidence established the root cause of the psychological incapacity of Eduardo
which is his dysfunctional family background. Hence, respondent could not have known the obligations
he was assuming, particularly the duty of complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
RTC rendered a decision that decreed only the legal separation of the petitioner and respondent, but
not the annulment of their marriage. CA also affirmed the decision of RTC.
Issue: Whether or not the totality of petitioners evidence was able to prove that respondent is
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage warranting the
annulment of their marriage under Article 36 of FC.

Held:
No, the totality of the evidence submitted by petitioner failed to satisfactorily prove that the respondent
was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.
Republic vs CA laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family
Code. The guidelines incorporate three basic requirements that psychological incapacity must be
characterized by a) gravity; b) juridical antecedence, and c) incurability. It is important that the presence
of evidence can adequately establish the partys psychological condition. If the totality of evidence is
enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person
concerned need not be resorted to.
In the case at bar, the root cause of Eduardos psychological incapacity was not sufficiently proven by
experts or shown to be medically or clinically incurable. Psychologist Gates conclusion that Eduardo
was psychologically incapacitated was based on facts relayed to her by Digna and was not based on
the evaluation of the respondent; thus, her findings are unscientific and unreliable.
The court also agrees with CA that the evidence presented by Digna in regard to the physical violence
and grossly abusive conduct of Eduardo and his abandonment without justifiable cause for more than
one year are grounds for legal separation only and not for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of FC.
Petitioner also argued that the Court of Appeals failed to consider the Decision of the National Appellate
Matrimonial Tribunal and failed to follow guideline no. 7 in Republic vs CA which states:
The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature.
Petitioners argument is without merit. The basis of the declaration of nullity of marriage by the NAMT is
not grounded on causes of psychological nature, but to those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion
of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and accepted.
Though the factual basis of the decision of the NAMT is similar to the facts established by petitioner, the
decision of the NAMT confirming the decree of nullity of marriage by the court a quo is not based on the
psychological incapacity of respondent. Petitioner, therefore, erred in stating that the conclusion of
Psychologist Gates regarding the psychological incapacity of respondent is supported by the decision of
the NAMT.