The Philippines’ highest court has relaxed its own rules on the annulment of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.
The Supreme Court said the rules it had put in place nearly two decades ago were “rigid”, ABS-CBN News reported.
Article 36 of the Family Code, which allows psychological incapacity as a ground for the annulment of marriage, should not be too strictly or literally applied, it said.
The high court reversed a 2011 ruling in an annulment case where it had affirmed a lower court’s decision upholding a marriage.
But after taking another look at the facts of the case, it said it had to reverse its ruling on a petition for annulment filed by a husband whose wife constantly plays mahjong and displays narcissistic behavior, according to the report.
In 1997, the tribunal issued a set of guidelines for the nullification of marriage due to psychological incapacity. Among other conditions, it said the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be medically identified, proven by experts, existing at the time of the marriage and incurable.
But in its latest decision, the court said: “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 high court said courts should rule on every annulment case not based on “assumptions, predilections or generalizations, but according to its own facts”.
In the case at hand, it said the wife’s duties to her husband and children are primary, and that taking her children with her while playing mahjong exposes them to a culture of gambling.
The tribunal said it is “not demolishing the foundation of families but is actually protecting the sanctity of marriage, because it refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological disorder, who cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations, from remaining in that sacred bond”.
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