In a recent interview with Pep.ph, actress Ruffa Gutierrez, a single mom to two girls -- Lorin, 14, and Venice, 13, revealed she has not received a substantial financial child support from her ex-husband, Turkish businessman Yilmaz Bektas, whom she parted ways in 2007.
“He hasn’t given anything except for peanuts. I think that’s all he’s sent me from Istanbul... peanuts and maybe -- maybe, I don’t even remember -- 2,000 dollars,” Ruffa said. “Antagal na nun, nineteen kopong-kopong pa, so wala pa siyang ipinapadala.”
Ruffa though doesn't want to reach out Yilmaz to ask for assistance. “Every time that we end up talking, it doesn’t end up in a good conversation,” she explained. “Ayoko nang ma-stress sa buhay ko. Tutal, okay naman ako. So, sana kung hindi ako okay or walang pumapasok na projects, walang trabaho, then I would be stressed.”
The solo mom is fortunate to be blessed with enough to support her family. But it may not be the case for many solo Pinoy parents. Here's what every single parent should know about the laws on financial child support in the Philippines:
Can I demand financial support from my child’s father? You have every right to receive financial support from the father of your child. “Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family,” states Article 194 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
As additional information, payment shall be made within the first five days of each corresponding month (Article 203). The law also says it is the father’s obligation to give financial support -- you shouldn’t have to ask for it.
My child is illegitimate. Is he entitled to financial support? Yes, provided certain conditions have been met. “Under our laws, both the legitimate and illegitimate child shall have the right to receive financial support from their parents,” said Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta in a column for The Manila Times. “But unlike a legitimate child who is automatically entitled to support, an illegitimate child’s right to support shall only arise if he was recognized by his father as his illegitimate child.”
There are a few ways for a father to recognize an illegitimate child as his: a handwritten Affidavit of Admission of Paternity, signed by the father, or admission in a public document such as a birth record. Financial support can only be demanded after the child is duly recognized by the father, said Rueda-Acosta. Learn more from her and how to get financial support for an illegitimate child here.
Will I still receive financial support from an ex-husband? If you and your husband are “separated in fact” -- meaning you no longer live together but without the court’s recognition -- your assets are not affected because the marriage is technically still intact. Both parents are still obliged to support the family, and this includes his or her spouse and the children.
In a legal separation, the spouse who acted in bad faith is not entitled to spousal support. The abandoned spouse can file a petition in court to receive spousal and child support from their assets, ask to be named in charge of them, and/or to distribute them.
On the other hand, once an annulment of marriage is final, you are no longer entitled to receive spousal support -- just child support if the kids are in your custody.
How much should the child support be? The amount of financial support should be decided upon by the parents, taking into consideration the needs of the child and the capacity of the giver, according to the Family Code of the Philippines. Hence, the amount can change over time depending on the situation.
If you and your child’s father can’t settle on an amount, “you may file an action before the court to determine and set the amount of support that your child is actually entitled to,” said Rueda-Acosta in a separate column also for The Manila Times.
What can I do if the father of my child neglects or refuses to provide financial support? Failure to give child financial support is a criminal offense as stated in Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act. It is considered as “economic abuse” and is punishable by law. You have the option to take legal action.
Excerpts in this article were taken from the September 2013 issue of Smart Parenting magazine, which was based on interviews with lawyers Raul G. Gerodias, Maria Leobeth B. Deslate-Delicana, Jose Antonio Aliling of Gerodias, Suchianco and Estrella Law Firm, Germaine Trittle Leonin, planning officer from the Planning and Development Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Gian Navarro of Reyes Cabrera Rojas & Associates, and Nikki Jimeno of Jimeno Cope and David Law Offices.