Philippine Annulment Law Made Easy
LESSON V: COURT
PROCEDURE AND EVIDENCE TO PROVE PSYCHOLOGICAL
March 15, 2003 is the date of effectivity
of the New Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages promulgated by the Supreme
Court. Thereafter, we wrote an article simplifying this Rule for easy
understanding to laymen
step-by-step procedure here). We received numerous feedback
from our web audience that the article was very useful and informative
to them. But education is a continuing process, so is our passion and
commitment to translate the law in layman’s term.
Q. Do I need a psychological report before I could file a petition
GTALAW: No. Generally, a psychological report is not required
before you could file the petition to declare your marriage void. It is
also specified under the New Rule that an expert opinion is not required
to be alleged in the Petition.
Q. But does your Firm require your clients to submit to a
psychological evaluation before filing the Petition?
GTALAW: Yes. The psychological report is the very foundation of
your petition. It is like going to battle fully prepared. In this case,
it would be easier for us to allege the manifestations of psychological
incapacities because these facts are already stated in the psychological
Q. If I am the one filing the Petition, do I still need to take a
GTALAW: Yes, you have to take the test because the psychological
report is the very foundation of your Petition. In the psychological
test, our resident psychologist will determine the psychological
incapacities of your husband or even your own incapacities. We usually
that you take the test prior to the filing of the Petition.
Q. I am planning to file an annulment case on the ground of the
psychological incapacity of my husband. The lawyer that I have contacted
over there told me that I can already receive the decision after five
(5) to eight (8) months. But I don’t remember him
psychological report. Do I have reason to be suspicious?
GTALAW: Every lawyer has its own style in handling the case. We
are not at liberty to comment about it. But for your information, the
Supreme Court has already set guidelines in proving a case for a
petition for nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological
We would like our web audience to be informed about these
which are as follows:
1. The burden of proof to show nullity of the marriage belongs to the
plaintiff and any doubt must be resolved in favor of the existence of
marriage and against its nullity.
2. The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be:
a. medically or clinically identified;
b. alleged in the complaint;
c. sufficiently proven by experts; and
d. clearly explained in the decision
3. Incapacity must be proven to be existing at “the time of the
celebration” of the marriage, although the manifestation need not be
perceivable at such time.
4. Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically
permanent or incurable, although the incurability may be relative only
in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolute against
of the same sex. Furthermore, the incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not to those not related to marriage
like the exercise of profession or employment
in a job.
5. Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of
the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage.
6. The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles
68 to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as
Articles 220, 221, and 225 of the same code in regards to parents and
their children. Such non-compliance must also be stated in the petition,
proven by evidence, and included in the text of the decision.
7. Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal
of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or
decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.
8. The trial court must order the fiscal and the Solicitor General to
appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless
the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in
the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or
opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General,
along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
submitted for resolution of the court.
Obviously, an annulment case cannot be concluded in the five (5) to
eight (8) months and without the psychological report if Courts will
follow the guidelines.
Q. I was informed that my annulment case would take longer if the
Solicitor General’s Office will appeal the RTC Court decision to the
Court of Appeals. How true is this?
GTALAW: Yes, your annulment case would take longer than what is
expected. The good news is, appeal by the Solicitor General to the Court
of Appeals is not anymore mandatory under the New Rule. But sometimes,
the Solicitor General would make an Appeal to the Court of Appeals if it
feels that the proceedings in the RTC Court was patently erroneous. We
would like to take this opportunity to express our opinion that an
annulment case is not a walk in the park. We already heard so many
nightmare stories about Petitions being denied by the Court of Appeals.
We would like to tell litigants
to concentrate on strengthening their
cases rather than entertaining any idea of approaching the prosecutors
or judges to expedite the process of their annulment.
Q. How long does it take to get my marriage annulled?
GTALAW: For uncontested petitions, the estimated processing time
of the annulment petition is one year and six months to two years
depending on the availability of witnesses and the court’s trial dates.
The case would take longer if the Petition is contested – meaning the
other spouse is interposing an opposition. Custody of children and
property issues are also known factors that cause delay. There are also
factors outside of our control that cause delay like unexpected
postponements of trial due to sickness of thejudge or the prosecutor;
retirement of the judge or postponements due to inclement weather.
Q. Am I required to appear in every Court hearing?
GTALAW: No, you are not. As petitioner, you are only required to
appear during the pre-trial conference and during your scheduled
testimony in Court.
Q. How many witnesses do we need to present in Court in order to
prove my case?
GTALAW: We need to present you as our principal witness, the psychologist/psychiatrist as expert witness to prove the psychological
incapacity; one or two more witnesses who have personal knowledge of
your marital relations and who can affirm your story.
Q. My husband and I are planning to file the petition
jointly. Will this help expedite my case?
GTALAW: Your case will be dismissed by the Court. The New Rule
says that the petition can only be filed solely by the husband or the
wife. Besides, this is a clear evidence of “collusion” oragreement of
the spouses to annul their marriage, which is a ground to dismiss the
Q. The public prosecutor summoned me to appear for
investigation regarding the annulment case which I filed earlier? What
investigation all about? Can I just send my lawyer instead?
GTALAW: This investigation is usually conducted by the prosecutor
to find out if there was an agreement or “collusion” between the spouses
to annul their marriage. This happens especially in
petitions when the respondent spouse did not submit his/her Answer to
the petition despite receipt of the Court Summons.
If you are in the
country, I suggest that you attend the investigation together with your
lawyer. During our early years of practicing Family Law, we have had an
experience that the prosecutor submitted a Certification of the Presence
of Collusion between the parties because our client, the petitioner,
failed to attend in the investigation.
The Certification was only
withdrawn by the public prosecutor when our client appeared. However,
prosecutors are very considerate if you can give a valid excuse for not
attending the investigation.
:: Related Topics
Lesson I: Annulment
Lesson II: Declaration
of Nullity of Marriage
Lesson III: Issues About Marriage License
Lesson IV: Issues About Psychological Incapacity
Lesson V: Court
procedure and evidence to prove psychological Incapacity
Lesson VI: Solutions for Petitioners Working Overseas
Lesson VII: Issues after the issuance of
Lesson VIII: Divorce obtained by former
Lesson IX: Our Fee Structure