Collecting Child Support From Absentee Fathers
In this issue, Atty. Barney Almazar will advise single mothers ways to cough up the cash from deadbeat dads. In addition to legal tips on how to demand support fathers rush to pay, the article will also discuss the penalties for missing a support payment which can include revocation of professional licenses and even, in some cases, jail term for up to a year.
While it’s easy for a mother to condemn the father of her children who can’t or won’t support their kids as incorrigible scofflaws — and treat him accordingly — that doesn’t get her very far if her goal is to make him pay up for the Pampers.
The noncustodial father has the responsibility to meet his financial obligations to the children he brings to the world. Even if the marriage has been dissolved, the ex-wife may still be entitled to alimony.
A common misconception is that Filipino fathers who are outside the Philippines are not within the reach of Philippine laws relating to family obligations. Article 15 of the Philippine Civil Code provides that laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad. In fact, a petition to terminate the father’s parental authority over the child pursuant to Article 229 of the Family Code of the Philippines can be filed by the mother even if both of them are outside the Philippines.
What can be demanded from the father?
Under Article 194 of the Family Code, support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
The mothers should note that Section 3 B (3) of Republic Act 7610 of the Philippines, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act considers the unreasonable deprivation of the child’s basic needs for survival such as food and shelter as a form of child abuse.
Computing Child Support
The amount of support shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the father and to the necessities of the child.
The child’s monthly support is not a fixed amount and shall be reduced or increased proportionately, according to the reduction or increase of the needs of the child and the resources or means of the father obliged to furnish the same.
In cases where parents have mutually agreed on the amount of financial support through a settlement agreement, the contractual support may be adjusted whenever modification is necessary due to changes in the circumstances manifestly beyond what has been previously contemplated by the parents.
The father is given the option to fulfill his obligation either by paying the allowance fixed or by receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the child he is required to support. However, if there is a moral or legal obstacle (for example, the father is living with his paramour), the latter alternative will not be allowed.
The child support laws are fair not just to the father but to the children as well. No father will become bankrupt due to a child support order. He may go broke because he is in debts or due to his wrong choices—but this is his problem, not his child’s problem and no child should have to pay for the bad decisions of his dad.
Remedy under UAE Laws
The initial remedy is for the mother to send a demand letter to the uncooperative father pursuant to Article 272 (1) of the UAE Civil Code as amended by Federal Law No. 1 of 1987.
Should the father fails to provide support despite several demands from the mother, a legal case can be initiated against him before the UAE Family Courts. The mother can also request the father’s employer to make direct monthly payments to her out of his salary. This is of course without prejudice to the filing executory reliefs before the Philippine Courts.
Compared to Philippine laws, UAE laws are tougher on the miscreant fathers. Penalties for missing a support payment can be up to a year in the prison as UAE jurisprudence considers it a crime against the family if the father refuses to pay alimony and child support. Article 330 of the UAE Penal Code states:
“Part Six: Crimes Against The Family
Shall be punishable by confinement for a period not exceeding one year and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams or by one of these two penalties any individual against whom a self-executing judgment is rendered, imposing upon him the payment of alimony to his spouse, any of his relatives or legal dependents, or the payment of salary of the guardian or foster-mother or rent of a house and who, after three months from the day on which he has been warned to pay, refrains from performing the obligation although he is capable of fulfilling it.”
Note to Absentee Fathers
If you are complaining about paying your child support, is it really about the money or is it all about having to pay it to your ex that gets under your skin? You should be able to separate your relationship with your ex from your responsibility towards your children. No child should suffer because you are so angry with your ex.
Every parent, whether non-custodial or custodial, has a duty to financially and emotionally support his or her children. Financial support should be provided for the child by both parents equitably.
A parent should consider not just the legal repercussions of ignoring or evading child support, but more importantly, the best interest of the child.
For more information on family law, readers can visit www.gulflaw.info or call 04-4492076. Gulf Law and volunteer Filipino lawyers hold monthly free legal aid and seminars at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai and Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Barney Almazar, Esq.
Atty. Barney is a director at the Commercial Department of Gulf Law in the Middle East, Philippines and United Kingdom. He holds a UAE legal consultancy license and is a lifetime member of the Philippine Bar. He is a holder of Juris Doctor and MBA dual degrees with concentration on International Business and European Union Law (University of London).