I married a foreigner in Cebu, sometime in October 2006. A boy was born out of our marriage. My husband, however, obtained a divorce in his country in 2008 and, from that time on, he failed to give any financial support to my son. I obtained information in the same year that my estranged husband returned to the Philippines, and is now living in the province of Aurora. The information was confirmed when I went there, and discovered that he is now living with another woman. Moreover, I learned that they have acquired certain pieces of property in the area. I demanded from him support for our child but he claimed that he is no longer obliged to support him since we are already divorced. Can I oblige him to give support to our son even if he had already divorced me?
The New Civil Code of the Philippines, particularly Article 15, provides that “laws relating to family rights and duties, or the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.” This provision is called the Nationality Principle.
The Nationality Principle applies to Filipinos wherever they may be. We also apply the same principle to foreigners when it comes to their family rights and duties. Thus, your previous husband must prove as a fact that under his national law, he is not obliged to give support to his son if he is already divorced from his wife. In the case of Del Socorro vs. Van Wilsem G.R. No. 193707, December 10, 2014), Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta stated:
“It is incumbent upon respondent to plead and prove that the national law of The Netherlands does not impose upon the parents the obligation to support their child (either before, during or after the issuance of a divorce decree), because Llorente v. Court of Appeals, has already enunciated:
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved.
In view of respondent’s failure to prove the national law of The Netherlands in his favor, the doctrine of processual presumption shall govern. Under this doctrine, if the foreign law involved is not properly pleaded and proved, our courts will presume that the foreign law is the same as our local or domestic or internal law. Thus, since the law of The Netherlands as regards the obligation to support has not been properly pleaded and proved in the instant case, it is presumed to be the same with Philippine law, which enforces the obligation of parents to support their children and penalizing the non-compliance therewith.”
Applying this decision to the case of your previous husband, a mere allegation that he is not obliged under his national law to support a child from his divorced wife is not sufficient. He must allege and prove his family rights and duties under his national law; otherwise it is presumed that our national law is the same with that of his own country, in which case, the father is obliged to support his son even if he is already separated from the mother of the child.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org