[G.R. NO. 162368 : July 17, 2006]
MA. ARMIDA PEREZ-FERRARIS, Petitioner, v. BRIX FERRARIS, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
This resolves the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated April 30, 2003 and February 24, 2004, respectively, for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error.
On February 20, 2001, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 151 rendered a Decision1 denying the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage with Brix Ferraris. The trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy does not amount to psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were insufficient to prove infidelity. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order2 dated April 20, 2001 where the trial court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed3 in toto the judgment of the trial court. It held that the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity or that his "defects" were incurable and already present at the inception of the marriage.4 The Court of Appeals also found that Dr. Dayan's testimony failed to establish the substance of respondent's psychological incapacity; that she failed to explain how she arrived at the conclusion that the respondent has a mixed personality disorder; that she failed to clearly demonstrate that there was a natal or supervening disabling factor or an adverse integral element in respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting and complying with the essential marital obligations.5
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied6 for lack of merit; thus, she filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court. As already stated, the Petition for Review was denied for failure of petitioner to show that the appellate tribunal committed any reversible error.
Petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration.7 The Court required respondent Brix Ferraris to file comment8 but failed to comply; thus, he is deemed to have waived the opportunity to file comment. Further, the Court directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on petitioner's motion for reconsideration which it complied on March 2, 2006.
After considering the arguments of both the petitioner and the OSG, the Court resolves to deny petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The issue of whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of marriage depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case.9 Such factual issue, however, is beyond the province of this Court to review. It is not the function of the Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence or premises supportive of such factual determination.10 It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court,11 save for the most compelling and cogent reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts,12 which are unavailing in the instant case.
The term "psychological incapacity" to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.13 As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.14 It is for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained,15 which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate.
As aptly held by the Court of Appeals:
We find respondent's alleged mixed personality disorder, the "leaving-the-house" attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.
In Republic v. Court of Appeals,17 where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than his family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was dishonest to his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the psychological defects spoken of were more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitute psychological incapacity; it is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological, not physical, illness.
Also, we held in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals18 that habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity.
While petitioner's marriage with the respondent failed and appears to be without hope of reconciliation, the remedy however is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity. An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage.19 No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally "inviolable" and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state.20
Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under Article 36, it must be read in conjunction with, although to be taken as distinct from Articles 35,21 37,22 38,23 and 4124 that would likewise, but for different reasons, render the marriage void ab initio, or Article 4525 that would make the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law were indifferent on the matter.26 Article 36 should not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves.27 Neither it is to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like.28
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the Petition for Review on Certiorari for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error, is DENIED WITH FINALITY.
Panganiban, C.J., Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
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