A Thematic Look at Selected Cases of Marital Nullity in the Philippines


Author: Antero Rosauro V. Arias, Jr., University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
Email: [email protected]
Published: December 2016

Citation: Arias, Jr., A. R. V. (2016). A Thematic Look at Selected Cases of Marital Nullity in the Philippines. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 2(3). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpbs.2.3.05


Psychological incapacity on the part of either or both spouses as the basis of marital nullity under Article 36 of The Family Code of the Philippines has long been traced to cases of personality disorders. From a theoretical framework that included the legal basis under the said article and the categorical model of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR), the author purposefully selected several clinical cases of spouses’ narratives in their social case history – these narratives were already part and parcel of court transcripts. Employing a qualitative research methodology using thematic analysis, they were then dissected into superordinate themes that represented spouses’ developmental years, premarital relationship years, and period of marital cohabitation as husband and wife. Thereafter, other themes and possible subthemes were extracted and listed under each of these superordinate themes. These themes and subthemes were then equated to the spouses’ overt manifestations of psychological incapacity. In turn, these manifestations were matched with any or all of the diagnostic features or traits of personality functioning in the DSM. The ultimate objective of deriving and labelling the identified themes with specific personality disorders, with due consideration to the subthemes that referred to spouses’ juridical antecedent behaviors, was successfully achieved to supplement the use of powerful psychometric tests, including the use of projective techniques which were utilized in the local courts. This innovative scheme of thematically analyzing spouses’ narratives on marital nullification figured very well in forensic mental health assessment, especially when the respondent spouse was not available to undergo the necessary psychological assessment for some reason.


marital nullification, psychological incapacity, personality disorder