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HOW TO ANSWER BAR EXAM QUESTIONS

1. Read the question from the bottom up. This means reading the question at
the bottom of the statement of facts. Knowing the question being directly
asked by the examiner will allow you to identify which facts in the
narrative are relevant to the issue to be resolved.
2. Read the facts more than once. The first reading may be cursory, i.e., just
skim through the question so that you can get the general idea. Then, read
the facts again - this time, more thoroughly and take note of the facts that
are material or relevant to the issue/s.
3. Apply the pertinent law to the facts to arrive at your answer.
4. Compose your answer in your head then write it down using the CIRAC
pattern as your guide. CIRAC stands for (a) (abbreviated)
Conclusion/Issue; (b) Rule; (c) Analysis and (d) (extended) Conclusion. If
your answer is brief, then you can dispense with restating your conclusion
at the end of your answer. The purpose of restating the conclusion is to
make sure that the examiner does not get lost in your discussion in case
your answer gets lengthy.
5. Write down your answer using cohesive flowing sentences. For this, you
will need to use transitional words and phrases.
6. Review your answers for any typographical or grammatical errors. This is
important. Make sure you leave enough time for you to go back and
review your answers before the bell rings.

Now, let us apply the foregoing rules in answering this question asked in
the 2016 Bar Exam:

 
 

Step 1: Reading the question at the bottom tells us that the issue is whether
the petition for nullity should be granted by the court.

Step 2: After a cursory reading of the facts, we now see that we need to
determine whether there is substantive basis for nullifying the marriage on the
ground of psychological incapacity. This calls for the proper application of
Article 36 and pertinent jurisprudence.

Step 3: We should now thoroughly read the question and identify the facts
that are crucial or material to the issue that we identified in Step 2. The crucial
facts for our sample question are encircled below:

Leo married Lina and they begot a son. After the birth of
their child, Lina exhibited unusual behavior and started to neglect
her son; she frequently went out with her friends and gambled in
casinos. Lina later had extra-marital affairs with several men and
eventually abandoned Leo and their son. Leo was able to talk to the
psychiatrist of Lina who told him that Lina suffers from dementia
praecox, a form of psychosis where the afflicted person is prone to
commit homicidal attacks. Leo was once stabbed by Lina but
fortunately he only suffered minor injuries. Will a Petition for
declaration of Nullity of Marriage filed with the court prosper?
Explain (5%)

and these are: (a) Lina exhibited bad behavior AFTER the birth of their son; (b)
she suffers from dementia praecox which was probably the reason why she
stabbed Leo; (c) it is not indicated when she got afflicted with dementia praecox or
what brought about this condition; and (d) it is also not indicated whether Lina’s
condition is incurable.

It is also important to note that Lina exhibited two sets of behavior. The first one
was her post partum irresponsibility and promiscuity and the other one was her
attempt on the life of Leo because of her dementia praecox. We are treating them
separately because based on the psychologist’s advice, dementia praecox makes
the afflicted person prone to homicidal attacks. There was no co-relation made
between dementia praecox and Lina’s neglectful behavior.

Step 4: Apply the provisions of Article 36 to the facts of the case and come
up with your answer. In this case, it is clear that while Lina’s behavior shows
that she is incapable of discharging her marital obligations, there is no evidence
of juridical antecedence and incurability. The answer should therefore be that the
petition ought to be denied.

 
 

Step 5: Now that you know what your answer should be and what your reasons
are, you will now have to think about how you will present your answer. As
suggested above, you may formulate your answer using the CIRAC pattern as
shown below:

(Conclusion/Issue) The petition seeking the nullity of the marriage


on the ground of psychological incapacity should be denied.

Rule:

The term “pyshological incapacity” is not explicitly defined under


Article 36 of the Family Code. Nonetheless, jurisprudence has
consistently held that personality disorders giving rise to
psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, i.e., it
must render the party incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties
required in a marriage; (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be
rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage; and (c)
incurability, i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise,
the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.

Analysis:

Here, only “gravity” was shown to exist. Thus, while there can be
no doubt that Lina’s dementia praecox puts her family at risk and
prevents her from discharging her marital obligations, the absence
of evidence showing that her condition antedates her marriage or
that the same is incurable warrants the denial of Leo’s petition.
Similarly, the allegations regarding Lina’s neglectful and wanton
behavior cannot serve as ground to nullify the marriage under
Article 36 since it is apparent from the facts that this was brought
about by the birth of their child, which, parenthetically, took place
after the marriage. Given the legal presumption in favor of the
validity of marriage, it is the party seeking its nullity who must
discharge the burden of proving the contrary. Leo failed to
discharge this burden of proof.

Conclusion: Consequently, the petition filed by Leo to have his


marriage to Lina nullified on the ground of psychological
incapacity must be denied.

Step 6: The use of transitional words in the appropriate places pulls your
sentences together and makes your answer cohesive. So, note the transitional

 
 

words (and qualifiers put in for emphasis) in the suggested answer below:

The petition seeking the nullity of the marriage on the ground of


psychological incapacity should be denied.

The term “psychological incapacity” is not explicitly defined under


Article 36 of the Family Code. Nonetheless, jurisprudence has
consistently held that personality disorders giving rise to
psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, i.e., it
must render the party incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties
required in a marriage; (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be
rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage; and (c)
incurability, i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise,
the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.

Here, only “gravity” was shown to exist. Thus, while there can be no
doubt that Lina’s dementia praecox puts her family at risk and
prevents her from discharging her marital obligations, the absence
of evidence showing that her condition antedates her marriage or
that the same is incurable warrants the denial of Leo’s petition.
Similarly, the allegations regarding Lina’s neglectful and wanton
behavior cannot serve as ground to nullify the marriage under
Article 36 since it is apparent from the facts that this was brought
about by the birth of their child, which, parenthetically, took place
after the marriage. Given the legal presumption in favor of the
validity of marriage, it is the party seeking its nullity who must
discharge the burden of proving the contrary. In this case, Leo
failed to discharge this burden of proof.

Consequently, the petition filed by Leo to have his marriage to Lina


nullified on the ground of psychological incapacity must be denied.

Step 7: Double check your answer for typos and grammatical errors.