My wife and I could not agree on certain matters, so she left me. That was about a year ago. Just this month, I was informed by a common friend that my wife wishes to ask support from me as she is struggling financially at the moment. May I ask if I am still obliged to support her?
Under the law, “marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this code” (Article 1, Family Code).
One of the legal rights and obligations arising from marriage is support, which “comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation.” (Art. 194, Id.) As provided by law, the spouses, legitimate ascendants and descendants, legitimate siblings, parents and their children/grandchildren are obliged to support each other. (Art. 195, Id.)
This support arising from marriage is a legally demandable right on the part of the person who needs it, and it may not be denied except in cases provided by law. One such case refers to a situation where the spouse leaves the conjugal home or refuses to live therein, without just cause. (Art. 100, Id.)
As such, the mere fact of separation by the spouses does not negate or suppress the legal consequences of marriage, including the right to support, which is clearly provided by law. As emphasized by Dean Melencio Sta. Maria Jr., the mere fact of separating from the family home is not a reason to withdraw the right to support unless there is evidence of any fault or guilt on the spouse who leaves (Persons and Family Relations Law, p. 451 citing Sumulong vs. Cembrano, 51 Phil. 719).
Applied to your case, the mere fact that your wife left you is not a sufficient ground to deny her the right to receive support, especially now that she is struggling financially. To deny her of support, you must show that she left your family home without just cause, which could be shown by fault or guilt on her part.
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 email@example.com.