Withholding child support constitutes economic abuse of women, children

Published by reposted only Date posted on February 19, 2009

Is there a possibility for a man to go to prison if he fails to support his children?

Martha

Dear Martha,

The law applicable to your query is Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004”. Section 2 of the said law declares that “the state values the dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect for human rights . . . (thus) the state shall exert efforts to address the violence committed against women and children in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the constitution and the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of discrimination against women, Convention on the Rights of the child and other human rights instruments of which Philippines is a party”.

From the policy of the law, it can be gleaned that the same was enacted primarily to protect the security of women and their children. It defines as criminal any act, which tends to inflict violence against women and the children. It may be physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence or economic abuse.

The act of a man in depriving the woman or her children of financial support, which is legally due her or her family or the act of deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support is considered as an economic abuse against women and their children under R.A. 9262.

Economic abuse refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:

1) withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in case wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;

2) Deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;

3) Destroying household property;

4) Controlling the victim’s own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

Cases involving violence against women and their children under R.A. 9262 may be filed in the Regional Trial Court designated as Family Court or in the absence of a designated Family Court, in the Regional Trial Court in the place where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant.

In other words, the man who vehemently refuses to provide support to his children may be held criminally liable for economic abuse under Section 5(e.1 and 2) of R.A. 9262. Acts falling under this Section shall be punished by prision correccional or imprisonment for 6 months and one (1) day to six (6) years. If the man is adjudged to be guilty of the said crime, he will suffer imprisonment by virtue of such conviction.

In addition to imprisonment, the perpetrator shall pay a fine in the amount of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100, 000.00) but not more than Three hundred thousand pesos (P 300,000.00) and undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and shall report compliance to the court (Section 6, RA 9262).

We hope that we were able to address your concern.

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 or via text message (key in: Times dearpao <YOUR QUESTION> and send to 2299).

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