Enforcement of Child Support

The most common reason that prevents a wife from ending her loveless or abusive marriage is the lack of financial independence to rear her children from that union. Single mothers feel helpless as well, what with the seeming futility of obtaining child support from the fathers that left them.

Legally, our laws seem to have the right answers to the problems of child support. Initially, one asks the father for a regular amount and documents this demand in a letter commonly known as a “demand letter.” It is only when the father refuses to provide for the child that the mother resorts to judicial intervention.

Support pendente lite.

 A complaint, pre-trial and trial take place before the formal Order of the court is issued. Ordinarily, the mother can ask for support pendente lite, or while the case is pending, so that the immediate needs of the child are met. Assuming that the mother is able to present her case well, the court compels the father to provide something for the child/children monthly.

But a mother’s problems do not end with the court order in her favor. There are some fathers who, out of spite for their ex, or out of sheer irresponsibility, neglect to comply with their obligation. This leaves the mother feeling helpless. She did her part, fought for her child’s rights, won her case but experiences an empty victory that only looks good on paper.

What can she do now?

Remedies in case of non compliance.

 The law allows the mother to enforce the payment of child support by going back to the same court that issued the decision in her favor. This time, she can file a motion to cite the father in contempt for his failure to comply with the court order containing the support provisions.

If the child support issue is found in a parenting agreement approved in court, then the same agreement can also be enforced in a court action. There will be another exchange of comments, some hearings, and then another court order to execute the support provisions.

A mother is lucky if she can identify the current employment status of the father to ask for his salary to be garnished. A difficult father can hide his assets with the use of dummies, to keep it far from the mother’s reach.

In the meantime, the single mother weighs her options carefully. Most of the time, she hesitates to continue her quest for judicial relief only because she has financial constraints. She would rather use her limited funds to provide for her child’s needs and hers than use it to pay her lawyer’s huge legal fees.

It is easy to see why statistics show that the woman who separates from her husband and becomes the primary caretaker of her children is more likely to experience a decline in her personal income.  While this may be the reality, it does not have to be that way.

It takes a lot of political will to change the traditional ways of society. Though men who shirk from their financial responsibility are a dime a dozen these days, our legislators may well learn a thing or two from our American counterparts.

Child support enforcement.

In the U.S., the government takes child support enforcement seriously. Most states have support calculators, support offices that provide free mediation services, and the best part– the criminalization of the failure to pay support. It is the equivalent of discipline by spanking. In a culture that is increasingly known for breeding men who are spoiled brats, that may just be what our country needs.

18 thoughts on “Enforcement of Child Support

  1. Liza S*****

    Hi, i am an overseas filipino worker with 2 kids in the philippines. i am separated from my husband for like 4 years now and i am the one raising the kids’ financial needs.

    i have been trying to talk it over to their father about the support because the expenses of the kids are getting more expensive. I am earning around 35thousand pesos (converted) and the monthly expenses for kids is around 24thousand. i am having difficulty making both ends meet but still i keep on sending for my kids expenses. my husband said, he has alot of loan to pay and he cannot pay monthly support

    he is working in Philippine Police Academy. what is my stand on this issue

    1. CFlorido Post author

      Hi, Liza.
      Your husband should still provide support for your children in an amount that is proportionate to his earnings. While he has other obligations to settle, he should be able to set aside something from his monthly salary for the children. It may not be for the entire 24K but definitely not an absolute zero. Find time to sit down and figure out how much he should share in the 24K monthly expenses of the children. Oftentimes, it is when the other parent takes part in the computation that he/she agrees to pay his/her share voluntarily. I hope this helps.

  2. Arlene G.*******

    I am legally married to my husband and we have two daughters now 18 and 15 years old respectively. My problem is that he does not give support to my children for almost 8 years now. I was able to talk to him thru cellphone last Oct 2009 and demanded that he should give support as I am not able to hold on to the everyday expenses as they are both go to private schools. I tried to have my eldest relay the message to my in-laws as she has contact with them but they say that my husband has many debts to pay and they dont have money which I do not buy. He has now a live-in-partner who has 1 daughter by previous relationship and is now pregnant by my husband. By the way, my husband is seaman. Before, we have a court order stating that he should give support amounting to 8,000.00 per child. That was, I think, 2000. He gave allotment for almost two years only and then suddenly stopped. I thought of not asking for support that time as I was still able to sustain on the expenses and I do not want to go the same tiring routine of asking for support again . But it was difficult for me every year as expenses gets higher. Todate, all my jewelries are pawned and I still have outstanding loans that incur interests. I dont know where to go and asking him the support is the only way I know to be able to go through all of this hardships. Also, I tried to seek the help of the agency that employs my husband but said that they cannot help me. They say that I need a court order to be able to dig on his files as I do not know that the address listed on the documents I was able to get from POEA pertaining to his employment is still current. I need your help please. Thanks for your time.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Use your court order to get him to pay regular child support. Your previous lawyer should be able to file the necessary motions in the same court and case number where you won your case for support in 2000 and to help you obtain a court order directing him to pay the monthly allowance plus back support (also known as arrears). You can send the demand letter first at his last known address, copy furnished the parents as well, who may be secondarily responsible for support if their son is as they say, unable to provide right now. I suggest that a lawyer send the demand letter first.
      I hope this helps.

  3. Karmella

    Hello Atty. Christine,

    I am a single mom of a 5 year-old. My relationship with my baby daddy ended 3 years ago. Since then, he has not given any financial support to our son. I sent him a letter in January 2010 requesting for financial assistance. I enumerated the expenses that I incur every month on our kid and even offered a 50-50 sharing on the expenses. However, he totally ignored the letter.

    I would like to fight for my child’s rights but my monthly salary is a bit over what is entitled for free public attorney. However, my monthly salary is not enough to cover both my child’s needs and the legal proceedings.

    What’s the best thing for me to do? Is it okay for me to keep sending him letters (say, monthly) and keep the courier’s receipts? Can I take the copy of my letters and receipts to court and then they send him a court order or something without having to go through court hearings?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Atty Post author

      Karmella: I suggest that you obtain the services of a lawyer initially to send a demand letter to the father. Usually, a demand letter is enough for the other party to listen and do something. This service should not cost as much as a full blown case for support in court. If the father still refuses, by then, the lawyer who sent the demand letter would be able to advise you on your next steps at which time, you can also ask for a flexible payment arrangement, e.g. payment of appearance fee in the meantime and a settlement of the acceptance fee once the father starts paying back support. I hope this helps.

  4. Trish

    Hi Atty.
    I have questions regarding child support. What are the steps into demanding the father to give support? And who will compute for the amount?
    My brother fathers a child to her ex girlfriend, they are not married and not living together, the child is turning 7 years old. He acknowledge the child and signed in the birth certificate. For the past 7 years, my brother unfortunately has no job, but the mother has. Just this June, my brother got a contractual job, I doubt if he is even earning 5k gross a month, the job is located in another province thus he still rents there. Upon learning, the mother now demands for support. She sent a letter I think, not sure what letter it is, but my brother learned about the letter just lately when he went home, thus he never got to attend the “meeting”.
    My question is, what letter would that be? And what would be the possible next step of the mother? Also, what steps should my brother do?
    Thanks a lot and I hope you will reply.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Trish: That letter could be anything from a simple reminder to pay support or a demand letter from an attorney (or it could even be a sales letter, for all we know! 🙂 Seriously, I can’t pretend to know what the contents of that letter are since I have not seen it). Usually, if a demand letter is sent and the person obliged to provide support fails to provide any after the demand is made, the next step may be a petition for support filed in court. I suggest that your brother talk to the child’s mother and negotiate a fair agreement for the child’s support, taking into consideration his present finances and the actual needs of the child.

  5. Karen

    Hi Atty.

    I have a live in partner now for 6 years. We have only one child. My partner has 2 children on his first wife. My partner now doesn’t have a work and I shoulder all our family’s expenses since I have a stable job and my partner being a bum, is the “yaya” of my child. His first wife is still asking for child support. At first, I am giving them child support, but lately, my expenses are getting bigger so I can not give them anything. Is the wife can still ask for continuos child support to my partner even if he has no work? Am I obliged to do my partner’s obligation to his children with his first wife? I am hoping that you can help me with this problem. Thank you very much.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Karen: You don’t have the obligation to support the 2 children and wife of your live-in partner. I suggest that you tell your partner that you can no longer pay for his obligations so that he will be compelled to find suitable work to support not only his 2 children from his first marriage, but also your only child with him. You can also try telling the wife as well that there has been a problem with the employment of the father of her children and that you have been helping him out by paying for her child support. End nicely by saying that your situation is no longer as it used to be and that you find it hard to make all ends meet. Tell her in a nice way that the support will resume as soon as your partner’s situation improves. Try not to annoy the first wife even if it really is not your obligation to pay her child support– after all, she and her children may still go to court and sue your partner. I hope this helps.

  6. Karen

    Thanks a lot for the reply Atty. This is really a big help for me. I’m thankful I bumped into this site 🙂

  7. "Joe Daddy"

    Good day Ms. Florido. Many posts here from angry mothers who want money. Well I am an angry FATHER. My ex-girlfrend and I have 4 ilegitimate sons together, and when we broke up she kept 2 in her custody and I had 2 in mine. I don’t have a job but I managed to scrape up 8,000 pesos a month to give her through my supportive friends and extended family who were all too happy to do that to help me get away from this woman. My ex, would then immediately spend ALL of that 8,000 on drinking, gambling, and doing drugs with her new boyfriend(s) right in front of all my friends and family without any shame. Then she would be back the very next day asking for money, saying the kids have nothing to eat. So of course I would feed the 2 she was supposed to be caring for at my residence along with the 2 kids I have cared for since the beginning of this arrangement. This went on for several months. I would give her support, she would waste it all, and in affect I was supporting ALL the kids anyways. Then she had the idea to steal all the kids away to another island in hopes that I would then DOUBLE my support to HER, since she would then be in possession of all 4 boys. It was only a matter of a days when my sons contacted me and said, “Papa, we want to come back, we’re SO hungry!” I arranged for my ex to bring them back immediately and now I have all 4 boys in my custody and she left the island again. SO now what do I do? I am so happy to have all my sons with me, and they are getting the best care I can provide. But don’t you think SHE OWES ME some child support money? They are her kids too! What is HER obligation?? Well, I suppose nothing… Because any judge could take one look at her and say, that woman is too poor and too stupid to enforce law upon. Just forget about her…

    1. Atty. Post author

      JoeDaddy: Every situation is different. I understand how you can be angry after reading your message here. Anyway, if you don’t have a support agreement, then I suggest that you ask a lawyer to contact her and propose that you enter into a support agreement. You can include provisions requiring her to show proof of how child support was spent to remind her of her duty to use it only for the intended purposes of the amount. She may also be obliged to share in the amount of child support, in proportion to her financial resources. It may not be a 50-50 sharing but you may ask her to draw up a list of expenses of the 2 children and ask that she shoulder at least a portion of it. If she refuses to enter into any written agreement, you may have to consider taking legal action– but I’d leave that to your lawyer to strategize as there are various options for getting her to compromise with you. I hope this helps.

  8. Fran

    My wife and I recently separated and she’s asking for child support for our 1 yr old child. She wants us to go to her lawyer (her parent’s friend). She’s threatening me that she will file a case against me if i dont give support. The problem is i dont have a lawyer and I am currently jobless. I dont intend to run away from my responsibilities but i have nothing to give. What can i do?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Fran: The obligation to support a child does not end or is not suspended even if you are unemployed as the law considers financial resources (or other sources of income) that may be used to pay for child support. This means that if the mother wins a court order for support and you fail to pay for it citing unemployment, the mother may look for properties in your name and ask the court to consider those in payment for support. If you fail to provide monthly child support as ordered by a court, then you may incur back support for which the mother may still claim once you are able to find work. The amount of backsupport can grow considerably over time so your best move really is to exert more efforts to fulfill your obligations and consider a compromise with the child’s mother to share in the expenses in the meantime.

  9. scorpian88

    GOod day atty., my brother has an illegitimate child, we’ve been supporting his child since birth but there was no specific amount.. The child received the same support as the legitimate children received from us..until 3 yrs ago, the grandmother of the child filed a case against my brother (abandonment)..or something…then after that, the court determined the monthly support to the child. Now, the child is 16 years old, and she is pregnant and they were engaged to get married once she’ll reach the legal age. My question is, is my brother still oblige to support the child??

    1. Atty. Post author

      Scorpian88: If the child is still a minor then the father’s obligation to support continues.

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