What solo mothers should be told instead

Ana P. Santos
Solo moms need not feel alone or helpless because there are laws on their side

Looming deadlines have taught me to tune out the background music and chatter of the radio in the various coffee shops that I call my office for the day. But on this particular day, the letter from a listener that the DJ read caught my attention. 

“My husband left me and our children for his mistress. He seems to be happy now with her. How can I move on from this? I just want him to support our children and help out with expenses without the usual excuses and delays.”

The DJ very kindly offered some advice about moving on and some platitudes about how child support is a matter of conscience and how sadly, some men don’t have a conscience.

Then she gently reassured the listener that single mothers are blessed because God knows they are alone.

Child support is a responsibility

First of all, child support is not a matter of conscience. It is a responsibility and, yes, quite an expensive one.  Education, healthcare, dental needs and other everyday costs like baon, supplies and school bus add up to a pretty nifty sum. Now, multiply that by the number of children you have.

Child support is an imperative. It is the symbolic umbilical cord that is not severed until the child can earn his own living. Sometimes in the Philippine setting, not even then. 

Telling the woman that child support is dependent on someone’s conscience was implicitly telling her that there was nothing she could do about her situation.  In truth, a woman who finds herself in this position has options such as those provided for by the law: The Family Code and Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Law (VAWC). 

The Family Code

Under the Family Code, as long as the father is gainfully employed, a child (who is in the custody of the mother) is entitled to receive child support.

According to lawyer Beverly Ann Noriega, whom I interviewed for an article about how to negotiate child support without looking needy or greedy, Title VIII, Article 194 of the Family Code stipulates that a biological child is automatically entitled to child support. “The law does not distinguish between legitimate or illegitimate children,” said Noriega. Child support is not contingent on the legal union of the parents and covers “all things that are indispensible” such as food, clothing, education, medical needs, among others. 

There is no specific set amount for child support. It depends on the child’s needs and the giver’s earning capacity. The amount of child support is also not fixed; it may diminish over time as the child’s needs are also reduced, like in the case of tuition.

You will have to make a written request to the father for child support and you must show proof that this request was received. The request for child support can be made even while legal proceedings to dissolve your union are under way. That only seems practical considering the time it takes to get an annulment. 

R.A. 9262: Anti-VAWC  

Under R.A. 9262 Section G, Point 8, you may file for a protection order directing the father to provide child support. Under what is known as salary garnishing, the protection order may stipulate a percentage of the income or salary be withheld by the employer and automatically remitted to the woman.

Both the respondent (the one who is supposed to give child support) and the employer may be charged with contempt of court if they fail to comply or if they delay remittance.

Do take note that if he moves to another company; you will have to make this arrangement again with his new employer. 

Fatalistic acceptance

As for all single moms being blessed because they are alone, it is true that a person’s faith may be their source of empowerment and strength. But it’s not the same for every person and faith should not be seen mistaken for fatalistic acceptance. And solo moms need not feel alone or helpless because there are laws on their side.

The cold hard truth about a failed relationship especially where kids are involved is that it will be difficult. But the good news is that you have equal chances and choices to simply accept the situation or squarely face the curve ball life threw at you and hit it right out of the park.  

And as Dr. Margie Holmes says in her piece for Happy Even After: A Solo Mom’s Journal, “(On dealing with the situation), the children take their cue from the mother or the parent they spend the most time with.” 

The kerfuffle solo moms find themselves in can be turned into a teaching moment to show them how to deal with a tough situation with tenacity, grit, and yes faith – faith in yourself, in others and faith in the fact that things will get better. You will have to work at it, though. And in that sense, adequate child support certainly helps. – Rappler.com 

Ana P. Santos is a regular contributor for Rappler apart from her DASH of SAS column, which is a spin off of her website, www.SexAndSensibilities.com (SAS). She also published Happy Even After: A Solo Mom’s Journal. Follow her on Twitter at @iamAnaSantos.