Dear FQ Mom,
I’m separated and our marriage has been annulled. I’m raising my kids alone. Should I demand support from my ex-husband? What laws protect single moms on this? Even if the mother earns more, shouldn’t the father support the children in some way? Thanks. – Ligaya via email
Answer: Hi Ligaya. Yes, even if you are earning more than your ex-husband, you still have the right to demand support from him for the needs of your children.
When your marriage was annulled, didn’t you have arrangements on child support? Under Title XIII Article 194 of the Family Code “support” is defined as comprising everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
The education of the person entitled to be supported includes his schooling or training for some profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of majority. Transportation includes expenses in going to and from school, or to and from place of work.
However, note that Article 201 states that the amount of support shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient.
Article 202 further states that the support shall be reduced or increased proportionately, according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of the recipient and the resources or means of the person obliged to furnish the same.
What usually happens?
Unfortunately, despite the clarity of the law, we see so many fathers neglect this duty and the mother, who was just too happy to get her independence from a bad marriage, opts to just devote her energy juggling time and resources in order to support all their children. You are still lucky in the sense that you can provide for your kids, but this is not the case for a lot of mothers.
This is the reason why the Congress criminalized the withholding of support in certain instances in Republic Act No. 9262: Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children in 2004. Since the withholding of financial support can now be a criminal act, there are sanctions and penalties that will apply. Check out R.A. 9262 and see where your case falls under – i.e. the reason for you ex-husband’s failure to give support.
For “Peace’s Sake”
However, before you hire a lawyer and demand your husband to give his support, maybe it’s better to try and talk about it in a more peaceful manner. Do your homework and study the above laws and list down what you want to accomplish during the talk.
It would be helpful if you have a list of all the expenses you’ve incurred in relation to supporting your children.
I remember a story of a female friend who was also earning more than her husband and you may get a tip from what she did. She listed down all the expenses of her children – tuition, etc. and had the list ready when the husband (who was then already separated from the family but still legally married to her) came to claim his share of the sales proceeds of their house. The list was her proof that he didn’t have any share to claim anymore, and in fact, still owed her some money.
If you haven’t, you may want to start recording your child support expenses. But if you feel uncomfortable doing that, may I suggest that you just record your total monthly expenses? Then make notes as to which ones accrue to child support. This way you hit two birds with one stone. You’re able to keep tab of your total expenses and you have a ready proof for child support if the need arises.
Help from Behavioral Economics Principles:
Although we think we make our decisions rationally, we actually tend to do so based on emotions. And your issue on financial support from your ex-husband is definitely emotional. Here are some Behavioral Economics principles that can help you.
1. Endowment Effect – the tendency of people to ascribe more value merely because they belong to them. When you and your children separated from their father, there must have been a profound loss that altogether made him feel detached from your children; thus, giving him the psychological excuse not to support them anymore. Maybe if the relationship continues, he would get back that “endowment” effect and would be more willing to set aside financial support. One way is to ask your kids to communicate with their father either in person or via mail and update him on their whereabouts – school, love life, etc.
2. Save More Tomorrow – This was a program done by Behavioral Economists Richard Thaler and Schlomo Bernatzi. The basic idea is this: Instead of asking people to save more now, ask them to save more in the future. The program was successful in making people save more by asking them not to do it now, but in the future. This may be applied to your ex by asking him to give financial support in the near future instead of right away, but agree on the amount (preferably one that increases) and the manner now.
3. Choice Architecture – give him choices presented in a way that you nudge him towards your preferred option. Let’s say choices a, b, c. Make choice A quite expensive for him to give, B is what you want him to opt for, and C is the minimum choice that would make him feel less of himself.
More than the shared financial support, your children also need your shared parenting. I don’t know if they maintain a relationship with their father, but may I suggest that you don’t vilify him in your children’s eyes? This may be very hard to do if your ex is really a villain. The problem is that if your kids see their father as a villain, they will always feel that they too are villains. Why? Because they’re 50% their father. What if even without you doing or saying anything, their dad is just so good at showing his not-so-good side? Well, I guess you just have to convince your kids that they won’t necessarily grow up to be their father. It’s true, their father will still have an effect on their lives, whether you like it or not, so it’s best for you to have a good relationship with him, and if you can, help him become a better person.
Both parties should re-state the ultimate goal of all these – i.e. for the benefit of your children. No matter what happened to your marriage, your children are still your shared responsibility. And no matter what your irreconcilable differences are, I’m sure you’re united in one goal: To raise your children to their fullest potential, happy and significant contributors to this world. And you can only do that when you move in unison, even if apart.
Still, I wish you both happy parenting!
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(Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys (download free book sample) and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (a story and activity book for kids from 1 to 92). Click this link to watch the Book Trailer.
To read her other articles go to Author Archive of PhilStar.com, FQMom.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com. Send your questions and comments via email to FQMomm@gmail.com. To watch her interviews and other videos, go to FQ Mom you tube channel.)
Attribution: Photos from nomommysperfect.com and pinterest.com put together by the author to help deliver the message of the article.
This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com