Jose Ochosa vs Bona Alano

June 15, 2015
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640 SCRA 517 – Civil Law – Persons and Family Relations – Family Code – Article 36; Psychological Incapacity – Juridical Antecedence

Sexual Infidelity and Abandonment are not per se Psychological Incapacity

In 1973, in only about three months of knowing each other, Jose Ochosa, a member of the Armed Forces, and Bona Alano, at that time a college drop out, married each other. But due to his work, Ochosa was assigned in different places in different times. In 1987, Ochosa was incarcerated for his participation in a failed coup d’etat. While in prison, he heard of his wife’s infidelity. When he got out of prison, he confronted Alona and the latter eventually left him. She however admitted having an affair with various men during the marriage.

Some time in the mid 90’s, Ochosa filed a petition to have their marriage be declared void on the ground that Alona was psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations.

In court, Ochosa presented Gertrudes Padernal and Demetrio Bajet. Both were under their household employ and they testified that indeed Alona was unfaithful to Ochosa and that Alona abandoned Ochosa.

Lastly, Ochosa presented Dr. Elizabeth Rondain who testified that based on her evaluation, Alona is suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder; that Alona has an excessive emotion and attention seeking behavior.

The RTC declared the marriage void but on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC ruling.

ISSUE: Whether or not psychological incapacity was proven in the case at bar.

HELD: No. Firstly, the totality of the evidence failed to support a finding that Alona is psychologically incapacitated. Although it is true that there is no requirement that the spouse sought to be declared psychologically incapacitated should be personally examined by a psychologist this is only true if the alleged psychological incapacity can be proven through independent means. In this case, Dr. Rondain only based his conclusion on the statements made by Ochosa and those of Padernal and Bajet. Those testimonies by Ochosa et al can hardly be considered as objective. They are self-serving.

Secondly, juridical antecedence was not proven since the said infidelity and abandonment by Alano were not proven to have existed at the time of the marriage. What’s clear is that said infidelity and abandonment only happened after the marriage. In fact, the witnesses (Padernal and Bajet) who testified on Alona’s infidelity and abandonment only knew Ochosa and Alano in 1980 and 1986, respectively. Thus, Ochosa failed to link Alano’s infidelity and abandonment as something that is psychologically rooted so as to support a finding of psychological incapacity.

NOTE: In this case, the SC also emphasized that Article 36 does not actually dissolve a marriage. What it does is that it recognizes that, in the first place, if it is present at the time of the marriage, there is really no marriage to speak of – hence, the need to declare such marriage void.

 

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