Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CHILD SUPPORT

Q: I have two children, now 19 and 20 years old. They are still in college. I am not married to their father who is a public school teacher. Ever since my children were born, their father has not given any financial support. What can I do? - AB

A: It is the father's obligation to support the children especially if he acknowledges that he is indeed the father. I advice you to write him a letter asking for support for your children's education and living expenses. Make sure the amount you ask for is specific. In your letter, give a time frame when you would like to receive the money. Make it easy for him by opening a bank account in your children's name and giving him the account number.

There has to be some diplomacy in drafting your letter, even if you feel aggrieved, oppressed and angry. The reason is you would like the father to be convinced to give support, so if you are very matter-of-fact and not angry in your approach, there may be greater likelihood that he will provide support. On the other hand, you don't have to beg or be emotional.
Another approach is to ask your children to talk to their father. This may make his heart softer.
If this doesn't work, you could try writing the education department's legal office for advice. I believe they have some administrative processes that may force the father to support his children.

ABUSIVE BOYFRIEND

Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for more than five years. He is in the Philippines, and every time I go back home, I live with him. In the beginning, he borrowed money from me, saying he will deposit his payment in my Philippine bank account. Later, he kept on borrowing more money until I realized that this has become regular. He continued promising that he will repay me by putting the money in my bank account. The last time I went home, when I checked my account, there was no deposit from him at all. I asked him about it, and he said he forgot my account number. After five years, I realize that he has been fooling me and abusing my kindness. I also bought a lot of furniture and things for his house and wanted to get it back but he said I don't have any rights. I have all the remittance papers showing that I sent money to him. May I get back my money? What about my furniture and other things for the house? - CD

A: Of course you have the right to receive payment for the loan. It is clear that from the beginning, he borrowed money, agreeing to pay you back. I suggest you write him a letter asking him to pay you back on or before a certain date. As for the things you bought, it will be better if you are in the Philippines when you get these back. On the practical side, does he really have money to pay you back? Does he have a job? Does he have any source of income? If not, it may take forever for you to wait. What is clear is that it will be wise for you consider ending your relationship with him.

SECRET MARRIAGE

Q: When I was 21, my boyfriend and I were secretly married. After a few months, he left for abroad and never came back. Because he was away for a long time, I lost my love for him and fell in love with another man. I am now on the family way with the baby of my new boyfriend. We want to get married but my secret marriage is already recorded at the National Statistics Office. What can I do? - EF

A: I know how you would like to marry your new boyfriend but unfortunately, you cannot do so because you are already married. There is no such thing as a “secret marriage” under Philippine law. It is just a label given to marriages that people don't want their parents to know about. If it has all the requirements of a valid marriage, then it is valid. The only time you can marry is if your first marriage is annulled or otherwise dissolved. Our laws make annulment difficult to obtain.

First published in THE SUN newspaper HK, August 2007 issue