• Physical abuse ground for legal separation

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am planning to file a case against my husband in order for me to be declared legally separated from him. We used to have a peaceful marriage until he started having vices. He would force me to give him money, even the money I have set aside for our bills. If I refuse or fail to give him, he would become physically abusive.

    Is there a possibility that the court will decide in my favor? Also, if the court grants my petition, will I still be entitled to support from my husband? The reason why I asked is I have no source of income right now and it would be difficult for me to work considering that I am still undergoing therapy.

    Dear Sheena,
    We understand that you desire to secure a decree from the court declaring you as legally separated from your husband. We, however, want to emphasize that, in order for you to be able to obtain a favorable decision from the court, it is essential for you to establish that the physical abuse you are experiencing from your husband is recurring or constant, and not merely sporadic or occasional, or that his abusive demeanor is grave and serious in nature. This is in consonance with Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines that provides that a petition for legal separation may be filed, among others, by reason of, “(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner; x x x (emphasis supplied). It is also essential for you to file your petition before the court within five years from the time of the occurrence of the alleged abuse (Article 57, Family Code of the Philippines).

    Should the court grant your petition, you and your husband will be entitled to live separately from each other, but your marriage bonds shall not be severed. Your absolute community or conjugal partnership will be dissolved and liquidated, but if it is proved that your husband is the offending spouse, he will not be given any share of the net profits earned by your absolute community or conjugal partnership and may also be disqualified from inheriting from you. The custody of your minor children, if there be any, may be awarded in your favor (Article 63, Family Code of the Philippines).

    With regard to the provision of support, as a general rule, your husband will no longer be obliged to provide you with financial support as such obligation ceases upon the grant of a petition for legal separation. If, however, he is proved to be the guilty spouse, the court may order him to continue to provide you with financial support but specifying the terms thereof (Article 198, Family Code of the Philippines).

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other 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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