'Sustento o kulong': House bill sets non-custodial child support to 10% of father's income

James Relativo - Philstar.com
'Sustento o kulong': House bill sets non-custodial child support to 10% of father's income
Children enjoy playing at the Bernardo Park in Quezon City on July 10, 2021. Kids five years old and above are now allowed outdoors in areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine after the Inter-Agency Task Force approved the proposal.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers recently filed a bill that sets a fixed amount of financial support non-custodial fathers must provide for their children, penalizing "deadbeat" parents with imprisonment and hefty fines in the process.

House Bill 8987 or the "Paternal Child Support Responsibility Act of 2023" was filed by the following solons on August 29: ACT-CIS Reps. Erwin Tulfo, Edvic Yap and Jocelyn Tulfo, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and Quezon City Rep. Ralph Tulfo.

"In a recent study by the World Health Organization, it is accounted that 15 million Filipinos are solo parents — nine-five percent (95%) of which are women," said HB 8987's explanatory note.

"In light that majority of the deadbeat parents are men, there is an imminent necessity to ensure that paternal child support is thoroughly enforced and the neglect of paternal responsibility shall be dealth with stringent penalties."

The Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act currently criminalizes the act of being a deadbeat parent — defined as a parent who has "abandoned his/her parental obligation" or is "unwilling to pay his/her child support obligation" — as a form of economic abuse.

However, the current proposed measure seeks to establish exactly the amount of paternal child support needed to be paid and streamline the process in establishing paternity.

How much is the needed support?

Child support, according to the legislative measure, is defined as the money regularly paid by one parent to the other for the purpose of providing adequate financial support to their common child or children.

Section 5 of the bill further clarifies on a non-custodial parent's obligation:

"The amount of Paternal Child Support per child shall be at least ten percent (10%) of the father's salary. However, this Act mandates that a paternal child support per child shall not be lower than Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00) per month, which is equivalent to Two Hundred Pesos (P200.00) per day."

Other than for the maintenance of the child, the support could also be for the support of both the child and the parent with whom medical attendance, education, and transportation, arrearages, or reimbursement, and which may include related costs and fees, interest and penalties, income witholding, attorneys' fees, and other relief.

A paternal child support order shall legally obligate the said fathers to provide support for their children and provides the needed amount (monthly obligation plus arrearages, if any) and how it is to be paid.

What are the penalties?

Any person who willfullly fails to pay paternal child support, consistent with RA 9262, shall be punished by prision mayor (six to 12 years imprisonment) and a fine not less than P100,000 but not more than P300,000 at the discretion of the court if such obligation has remained unpaid for a year.

This also applies if one has an outstading amount due of P50,000 or more. Inter-country agreements will likewise be implemented if the offender is a Filipino living overseas.

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