Law mandates parental support to children

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My husband and I parted ways several years ago. Since then, I’ve been raising our son on my own without his help, and that is fine with me. However, I was infuriated by his recent refusal to lend me a hand in paying the hefty hospital bill I incurred when our son was hospitalized. Note that he is well off, and this is the only time I asked for his help. Yet, he still turned me down. Can I file a case to ask support, and can I also demand all the support that he failed to give in the past?
Trelly

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Dear Trelly,
As the father, your husband has an obligation to provide legal support to your son. The law states that spouses, and parents and their legitimate children are obliged to support each other (Article 195, Family Code). This support that the law mandates comprises of everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation. (Article 194, Ibid.) Expenditures for hospitalization clearly fall within the term medical attendance. Thus, your husband should pay or contribute his share on the hospital bill incurred when your son was brought to the hospital.

His obligation becomes even more apparent when we consider your contention that he is well off. This gives an impression that he has financial capacity to provide legal support.

According to the law, the amount of support is proportionate to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient. (Article 201, Id.) Hence, if indeed your husband has sufficient resources to pay for the hospital bill of your son, then he is obliged to give his share. To enforce the right of your son, you may file the appropriate case in court. You may file the case at the proper court of the place where you or your husband resides.

Nevertheless, the support he failed to give in the past cannot be included in your claim should you decide to file a case. Article 203 of the Family Code states that the obligation to give support is 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 date of judicial or extrajudicial demand. This means that support must be demanded at the time it is needed.

Explaining this rule, the Supreme Court stated in the case of Jocson v. The Empire Ins. Co. and Jocson Lagniton that “the right to support does not arise from the mere fact of relationship, even from the relationship of parents and children, but from imperative necessity without which it cannot be demanded, and the law presumes that such necessity does not exist unless support is demanded” (103 Phil. 580).

You mentioned in your narration that you raised your son on your own without the help of your husband, and that the only time you asked for his help was when your son was hospitalized. To our mind, taking these statements together means that you did not demand support in the past at the time it was needed. Consequently, it cannot be demanded following the abovementioned rule.

We hope you find our opinion instructive. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if actual facts are changed or elaborated.

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

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