Child support is often an major area of disagreement between separating spouses, bogging down proceedings and causing increasingly hostile negotiations.
The Philippines has several laws dealing with custody and support of children.
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Philippine Law and Child Support
Support in the law is described as everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
The law emphasizes that this support should include schooling or training for some profession, even beyond the age of majority. [Art 194, Family Code of the Philippines]
Those who are obliged to support each other are enumerated in Art 195:
- The spouses;
- Legitimate ascendants and descendants;
- Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter;
- Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; and
- Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood
You’ll immediately see that regardless of whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate, support is an obligation from both parents.
How much support can I expect?
You might think there is some support calculator to define exactly how much support you can expect for your child.
You’ll be surprised to know that how much support really differs from case to case.
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. [Art 201, Family Code of the Philippines]
What this means is that support really depends on the capacity of the giver.
Does he or she have good investments?
Does he or she have a good job?
If that is the case, support can be drawn from these sources. If not however, there is no possible way that support can be received even if there is a court order for it.
If you are preparing to negotiate with your ex-partner, it would be helpful to create an accounting of the child’s expenses for schooling and maintenance.
This can help guide the discussion and set realistic expectations.
How can the court order for support be implemented?
You might think that after receiving a court order, support will automatically be sent to your account from your ex-partner’s.
It is a little more complicated than that.
As the Philippines has no uniform infrastructure to ensure support is actually given, the options for receiving support can be very specific:
- You might be able to request the deduction of support from your ex-partner’s payroll.
- You might be able to receive support by asking the court to garnish his assets such as by taking his cars or other properties.
These court orders can then help ensure that the court’s decision translates into actual financial support for the child.
R.A. 9262 or Criminalizing Lack of Father’s Child Support
R.A. 9262 puts pressure on a father to provide for his child by threatening him with criminal action if he does not provide support.
Section 5 e (2) in particular discusses Child Support:
Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support.
Meanwhile, Sec 6 (c) discusses the penalty as punishable by prision correccional or jail.
In successful support cases however, it is when there is true cooperation and trust that the child’s welfare is of primary importance that support is consistent and regular.
It is when a father is involved in the discussion and that he trusts that the money is truly going to his child that support cases achieve their goal.
How do I file a Child Support Case?
You’ll usually file a case for child support where one of the spouses resides. It may be its own independent case or ancillary to a case for legal separation, annulment of marriage or the like.
Once the case is filed, your court will send a notice and the full copy of the petition to your ex-partner ordering him to show why the petition should not be granted.
Your court will then conduct a preliminary conference between the parties to see if a resolution without full blown trial is possible.
In the meantime, the court has the power to issue provisional orders for support after giving the other party the opportunity to respond to the provisional claim and the allegations about the financial conditions of both parties, as supported by affidavits, depositions or other authentic documents. The court can therefore issue a provisional order for support which will be enforced even while the case is not yet finished.
The guidelines for such provisional support are as follows:
The common children of the spouses shall be supported from the properties of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership.
Subject to the sound discretion of the court, either parent or both may be ordered to give an amount necessary for the support, maintenance, and education of the child. It shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient.
In determining the amount of provisional support, the court may likewise consider the following factors: (1) the financial resources of the custodial and non-custodial parent and those of the child; (2) the physical and emotional health of the child and his or her special needs and aptitudes; (3) the standard of living the child has been accustomed to; (4) the non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the child,
The Family Court may direct the deduction of the provisional support from the salary of the parent.
But if the court elects not to order provisional support, all your evidence and witnesses’ testimonies will be heard in a full blown trial and then the court will make its decision.
You might wonder how long a full blown case for support lasts.
Well, it depends on how quickly you and your ex-partner can agree on terms.
When you and your partner can negotiate a compromise agreement where both needs are met, then the court process is smoother. You may spend only a year to a year and a half in court.
However it can take years if you and your ex-partner cannot agree and are unwilling to compromise.
How much will I spend?
When you and your ex-partner cannot agree , a case will become more complicated and more expensive.
More evidence, court appearances and coordination between lawyers will be required.
As such, the cost of the case will primarily depend on you and your spouse.
The normal court costs are the following:
- Acceptance fee which varies per lawyer and depends on how complicated your case is
- Court fees for filing the petition
- Document processing fees such as notarization and postal service
- Pleading fees for each written submission to the court
- Court Appearance fees for each appearance to the court
What documents do I need for a Child Support Case?
You’ll need several documents for a child support case:
- PSA Birth Certificate and proof of paternity such as Affidavit of Paternity and any other proofs, if illegitimate.
- PSA Marriage Certificate if you were married
- Summary of receipts and expenditures related to the child
- Summary of properties and proof such as titles, bank accounts, etc. of the other spouse
- Summary of your ex-partner’s income and proof
The more information that you gather helps in explaining to the court what the requirements of the child are in addition to proving the capacity of your ex-partner to pay.
This is important and helps a great deal.
What if my ex-partner is a foreigner and or abroad?
When your ex-partner is a foreigner and when he currently lives abroad, the laws of his country and of the country where he currently lives in comes into play.
Obtaining and enforcing a court order may require engaging lawyers in the foreign country. Furthermore, your personal appearance abroad may be needed to file the petition there. What is required will depend on the law of the country from which relief is sought. It will certainly require close coordination between you and your lawyer.
Your ex-partner can be asked for child support in his home country and be compelled to pay, especially when:
- The child is a citizen of that country
- There is clear proof of paternity/maternity
In the United States, there are a number of ways to compel a parent to provide support.
The amount owed may be deducted from wages otherwise his passport may be confiscated, his driver’s license suspended or he may go to jail among other penalties.
Resorting to these will require some familiarity with the laws involved and the possible enforcement mechanisms.