• According to the Law: Establishing Paternity

    Our guest family law expert, Atty. Nikki Jimeno, answers a single mom's dilemma.
    by Atty. Nikki Jimeno .
  • paternity

    Q:

     Good day, Smart Parenting!

     I am a single mom to my 6-year-old son. I’m currently still studying and dependent on my parents. When I asked my ex for financial support, he refused to give any and even blamed us, saying that I and my family have deprived him of his rights, which is not true because it was he who disappeared from our lives. I just want to ask if I can legally ask for financial support from him. Should I file a case against him? Thank you in advance.

    Chinggay

    A:

    Hello Chinggay,

    I am sorry to hear about your predicament. I can imagine your difficulty in trying to raise your son by yourself, and you have every right to ask for support from the father.

    We first need to determine whether or not your ex-boyfriend has acknowledged your son as his natural child. When your son was born, did the father sign the birth certificate as the natural father? If yes, then he has already acknowledged your son as his own. If not, was there ever a time that he has admitted paternity over the child in writing or by his actions? For example, if he was present when you gave birth, or he has already told other people (his family and friends) that he is the father. As long as he has given any indication that he acknowledges your son as his own, then you can already claim support.

    If, however, he has denied it from the very beginning, then you must first file a paternity suit to make your ex recognize your son as his own. A prima facie case for paternity exists when you claim that you had sexual relations with the supposed father at the time of conception. You need to strengthen your case by showing evidence of the existence of the relationship, such as through pictures, letters, text messages, and the like. In these instances, the Court relies on the mother's testimony, as well as on the physical resemblance between the father and the child to establish paternity, but this is difficult, especially when the child is still very young and his features have not yet fully developed.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court now recognizes DNA evidence in paternity cases, which has greatly helped in getting definitive results. In the Philippines, there are currently 4 laboratories that perform DNA analysis procedures for forensic purposes: the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) and the University of the Philippine Natural Sciences Research Institute (UP-NSRI). St. Luke’s and UP-NSRI usually process them for civil cases.

    Once you have established your son's paternity, then you can file a civil case through a petition for support with a family court, or you can file a criminal case under RA 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Law. Under this law, a father who refuses to give adequate support to his child can be penalized with imprisonment from 6 months and 1 day to 6 years, plus a fine in the amount of not less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than three hundred thousand pesos (300,000.00).

    As the mother, you have every right to make sure that your ex complies with his parental obligations, and that your son is given the support he needs. Most of all, your ex needs to be reminded that financial support is not enough--your son also deserves the love and guidance of his father.

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    Atty. Nikki Jimeno

     

    Got legal questions? Send us an email at webmaster@smartparenting.com.ph.

    Photo by iandeth from flickr creative commons

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