When a married couple separates, whether on their own terms or as prescribed by an annulment proceeding, child custody and support become a fundamental issue between the parties. With whom should the children stay? How often can their father / mother see them? How will their basic needs be met?
In the Philippines, custody of children under seven years old is automatically granted to the mother as mandated by Article 213 of the Family Code. This is applicable whether the child’s birthright is legitimate or illegitimate. In the same manner, the father is expected to continue providing the needs of his children and not leave the mother to fend for the family on her own.
This arrangement is easier said than done as most post-annulment / separation issues stem from the fact that fathers fail to consistently provide for their children. Each has his own reason for not being able to live up to what is expected of him (as the provider); others admit that they chose to discontinue financially supporting their children through the estranged wife because of trust issues.
In the midst of these marital (and extra-marital) issues are the children and their escalating living necessities. This blog receives a lot of questions about child support and legal actions against fathers who fail to provide for their children. We all have that one friend who is perpetually asking about means to compel her ex-husband to give and give more as the children’s basic needs rapidly become anything but basic.
We ran a research on child support, as dictated by Philippine laws, in an attempt to shed light in this touchy issue. We hope these information help put your questions on child support to rest, or at least lead you towards the right decisions in upholding the rights of your children.
How much should a father give as financial support to his children?
According to the Family Code (Articles 194, 201, and 202):
Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
The education of the person entitled to be supported referred to in the preceding paragraph shall include his schooling or training for some profession, trade, or vocation, even beyond the age of majority. Transportation shall include expenses in going to and from school, or to and from place of work.
The amount of support, in the cases referred to in Articles 195 and 196, shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient.
Support in the cases referred to in the preceding article shall be reduced or increased proportionately, according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of the recipient and the resources or means of the person obliged to furnish the same.
According to the Family Code:
- The amount of support shall be based on the children’s needs and the father’s capacity to provide (earn).
- The father is obligated to support his children’s education even after they have reached the age of emancipation.
Can I demand for support from my child’s father even if he is married to another woman (and my child, effectively, is illegitimate)?
Article 195 of the Family Code provides that both legitimate and illegitimate children have the right to receive financial support from their parents. However, an illegitimate child’s right to support shall only arise if he was duly recognized by his father.
An illegitimate child may prove that he is recognized by his biological father through the following:
- Record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment – with the father accomplishing the Affidavit of Acknowledgment / Admission of Paternity found at the back of his birth certificate.
- An admission of illegitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.
If the father refuses to recognize the child, the mother may seek to the court’s assistance by filing a Petition for Compulsory Recognition and Support. This will entail hearings and other court proceedings and the mother must be prepared to fight it out in public.
If I win the petition, can I demand the father of my child to reimburse the expenses I incurred in the years that he did not provide for my child?
No; the father’s obligation to financially support the child begins from the date of judicial demand, or once the Petition for Compulsory Recognition and Support is approved by the court.
Do I have the right to demand for financial support from my ex-husband even if he is jobless?
In cases when the children’s father is jobless and has no means of income, financial support may be derived from the separate properties. If the father does not have a separate property to liquidate, the funds may be taken from his and the children’s mother’s conjugal properties. It shall be treated as an advance and will be deducted from the ex-husband’s share of the estate when it is liquidated.
Can I sue my ex-husband if he continues to ignore his parental responsibilities?
Filing a case in court to compel the children’s father to continue his obligation to provide for the children should be the last resort. Yes, a mother can seek the court’s assistance in demanding for child support. A father’s failure to comply with his obligation despite repeated reminders is a violation of RA 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, or RA 9262 – Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) and is a criminal offense.