Court Filings

Bier vs. Bier (Digested- EMS)

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Case Digest for Civil Law. Persons and Family Relations. Family Code. by: E. San Andres 2014
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  San Andres Renne Enrique Bier, Petitioner, vs. Maria Lourdes Bier and Republic of the Philippines, Respondents. Facts Petitioner (Renne) married respondent (Lourdes) on July 1992. Their marriage was going well for three years. Respondent was never remiss on her duties  —  she was all Renne has hoped for. As petitioner was based abroad, they took turns shuttling to and fro the Philippines. The couple started having marital problems after three years of marriage. According to the petitioner, his wife became aloof towards him, and has ceased to be the person he had known. She became an alcoholic, a chain-smoker, and is choosing to be more with her friends than her own husband, thus, an absentee wife.  As a result, they quarreled frequently. Then on April of 1997, respondent left for the United States. Petitioner filed a petition for nullity of their marriage on the grounds of psychological incapacity for being unable to fulfill respondent’s marital duties and obligations before the RTC of Quezon City. Respondent Republic of the Philippines appealed the decision of the RTC to the Court of Appeals stating that petitioner has not complied with the guidelines set down by a previous ruling (Republic vs. CA and Molina) to declare that respondent is psychologically incapacitated. The previous decision then, has been reversed, and declared that the couple’s marriage still subsists. The petitioner moved for reconsideration of that decision and is likewise denied. Hence, this recourse. Petitioner contends that the guidelines enunciated in Molina need not be strictly complied with as it in itself stated that it is merely ”handed down for the guidance of the bench and bar” and was  not meant to be a checklist in deciding cases involving psychological incapacity. Issue Whether Maria Lou rdes’ actions constitute psychological incapacity, and are sufficient basis for nullity of marriage.  San Andres Held The petition lacks merit , and the respondent’ s actions do not establish psychological incapacity. The trial court apparently overlooked the fact that this Court has been consistent in holding that if a petition for nullity based on psychological incapacityis to be given due course, its gravity, root cause, incurability and the fact that it existed prior to or at the time of celebration of the marriage must alwaysbe proved. Also, even if TheMolina Casewas never meant to be a checklist of the requirements in deciding cases involving  Article 36 (psychological incapacity)of the Family Code, a showing of the gravity,  juridical antecedence and incurability of the party's psychological incapacity and its existence at the inception of the marriage cannot be dispensed with. We hold that the trial court's decision to declare the parties' marriage void ab initio by reason of respondent's psychological incapacity was clearly and manifestly erroneous as it overlooked the need to show the gravity, root cause and incurability of respondent's psychological incapacity and that it was already present at the inception of the marriage. In the case at bar, petitioner was able to establish that respondent was remiss in her duties as a wife and had become a happy-go-lucky woman who failed to attend to her husband's needs and who eventually abandoned him. However, the totality of her acts, as testified to by petitioner and his brother was not tantamount to a psychological incapacity, as petitioner would have us believe. Habitual alcoholism, chain-smoking, failure or refusal to meet one's duties and responsibilities as a married person and eventual abandonment of a spouse do not suffice to nullify a marriage on the basis.
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