Husbands have the obligation to support family

Published by rudy Date posted on February 8, 2009

Dear PAO,

My husband is working in Jeddah, K.S.A. At first, we did not have any problem with our communication and with his remittances. However, since 1993, he cut his communication with us and his remittance became irregular. He came home once in 2008 but he stayed with his parents and he did not inform us that he was home.

I sought help from the POEA and the Philippine Embassy at Jeddah but nothing happened.

We have two children, the youngest is in her second year in college. My husband promised to support our children’s education but most of the time, if the remittance is not delayed, it is not sent at all. Is there anything I can do to have an allotment from the salary of my husband? I do not have money to go to court in order to have a court order. I don’t have money to support my children and I don’t want them to stop going to school because of this problem.

Worried Mother

Dear Worried Mother:

It is quite lonesome to know that plenty of families have to part ways because one has to go overseas to work for the benefit of the family. But it is more disheartening to see a family break up because the head of the family had reneged on his obligations to his wife and to his children.

The obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the person who has a right to receive the same needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the time the date of judicial or extrajudicial demand. (Article 203, The Family Code of the Philippines)

From the foregoing, you can demand support from your husband either by personally asking him or by filing a case in court to demand support in behalf of your children. As a matter of fact, it is not only your children who are entitled to support from your husband, you are also entitled to be supported, pursuant to Article 195 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Article 195 of the Family Code, provides:

“Article 195. Subject to the provisions of the succeeding articles, the following are obliged to support each other to the whole extent set forth the preceding article:

1. Spouses;

2. Legitimate ascendants and descendants;

3. Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter;

4. Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; and

5. Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood.”

Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family (Article 194 of the Family Code of the Philippines). Further, the education of the person entitled to be supported shall include his schooling or training for some profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of majority. Support for education also includes the fare in going to and from the school.

According to you, your husband did not even bother to inform you that he was in the Philippines when he came home once in 2008. Thus, it would be impossible for you to ask him extra-judicially the support you and your children need. You must then file the necessary case in court.

An action for support may be qualified as an action, which affects the personal status of a person. As defined, status means a legal personal relationship, not temporary in nature nor terminable at the mere will of the parties, with which third persons and the state are concerned (cited in Remedial Law Reviewer, 2001 Revised Edition, Page 244). Put otherwise, it is an action where the relationship of your children and their father is at issue.

A petition for support may be filed in any of the family courts in the place where you reside. The fact that your husband is not a resident of the Philippines and the case affects the personal status of your children, you can also file the said case in the place where the property or any portion of the property of your husband is located, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 4 Section 3 of the Rules on Civil Procedure.

Aside from filing a petition for support, in an instance that you and your husband have conjugal properties, you may choose to file an action in court praying for the judicial separation of property or for authority to be the sole administrator of the conjugal properties, subject to the precautionary conditions as the court may impose (Article 101 in relation to Article 128 of the Family Code of the Philippines). You can use the fruits of your conjugal properties for you and your children’s sustenance.

If summons against your husband cannot be effected by personal service, due to the distance of his present residence, summons may, by leave of court, be served against him by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the court may order, in which case a copy of the summons and the order of the court shall be sent by registered mail to his last known address or in any manner that the court may deem sufficient. (Section 15 Rule 14, The 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure)

Summons is a writ or process issued and served upon the defendant in a civil action for the purpose of securing his appearance therein.

Whatever course of action you decide to choose you will need the assistance of a counsel. Should you want to avail of the services of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), you can do so, provided, you pass the merit and indigency tests of the office. The PAO is mandated to represent, free of charge, indigent persons if it is determined after investigation that the interest of justice will be served thereby. (Section 1 of MC No. 18 Series of 2002 otherwise known as the Amended Standard Office Procedures in Extending Legal Assistance of the Public Attorney’s Office)

Section 3 of the same memorandum circular provides further the guidelines in determining those persons considered as indigent clients, to wit:

1. Those residing in Metro Manila whose family income does not exceed P14,000.00 a month;

2. Those residing in other cities whose family income does not exceed P13,000.00 a month;

3. Those residing in all other places whose family income does not exceed P12, 000.00 a month.

You may visit any of our district offices nearest to the place of your residence to avail of the services of our office. Our district offices are usually located at the halls of justice, city halls or provincial halls or capitols of your place.

Further, we need to remind you that our opinion was just based on your narration of facts and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary if other facts are added or elaborated on.

We hope that we were able to address your concern.

(Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net or via text message key in: Times dearpao <YOUR QUESTION> and send to 2299).

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