A considerable number of queries in this blog involves a scenario where one of the spouses receives a letter from a psychologist, inviting the said spouse for an interview or assessment to determine the existence of psychological incapacity. The usual query is whether the spouse who received the notice should participate and, in general, what on earth is this notice? The more recent inquiry is found in the post on “Annulment in the Philippines: Questions and Answers (Part 3)“.
The notice is sent by a psychologist in preparation for a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, pertaining to psychological incapacity [see Psychological Incapacity and Annulment]. The psychologist interviews the petitioner spouse (husband or wife, of course) and his/her witnesses. As a matter of procedure, the psychologist also sends a notice to the other spouse inviting him/her to come in for the same interview or assessment process. The end-result is a psychological report which the psychologist, as an expert witness, submits to the court, outlining the process, the facts found in the interviews, the findings and conclusions.
As discussed somewhere, in a petition for declaration of nullity based on Article 36, it doesn’t matter who is psychologically incapacitated — it could be the husband, the wife or BOTH. Provided there’s enough evidence, the court can grant the petition based on the incapacity of either of the spouses (whether the petitioner or the respondent) or both.
The petitioner spouse (the one who files the petition) must always be included in the evaluation process (he/she will file the petition in the first place). Some respondent spouse (he/she will be summoned after the filing of the petition) participate in the psychological evaluation process. Here’s the gist of the queries — what if the other spouse refuses to participate? No problem. The psychologist may come up with a finding of incapacity of the petitioner. The psychologist can even come up with an assessment of the incapacity of the non-cooperating spouse based on the testimony/evidence of the petitioner and his/her witnesses. In other words, it will not prejudice the entire proceedings.