A House Bill being pushed forward by Manila Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo will take aim at criminalising fathers who refuse to support their children.
The new bill would give up to two years behind bars for parents who refuse or fail to give legal child support without a ‘justifiable reason.’
House Bill #6079 is directed at the amount determined by a court order or under a parenting agreement approved in court, or issued under a protection order pursuant to Republic Act #9262 (the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004).
Under the measure, anyone who refuses to give legal child support amounting to 30,000 pesos, or for a period of six months, would be punished under the pending law.
The law covers the fact that many fathers are the legal guardian of the child, so the House Bill intentionally relates to those who have legal custody of the child or children.
The law also touches on the fact that even if the parent pays partial payments, or a lessor amount deemed by the court, may also be penalized under the 30,000 pesos/six months overview.
House Bill 6079 provides a penalty of 25,000 pesos or imprisonment of no less that than six months, but not more that one year (or both) and the lump sum settlement of the total unpaid legal child support on the first instance that the parent fails to provide legal child support.
Subsequent offenders would penalize the family member with a 50,000 peso fine or imprisonment of not less that one year but not more than two years (or both) – as well as the lump sum settlement of the total unpaid legal support.
Ocampo said the issue of child support remains one of the country’s most difficult issues to resolve between couples who choose to separate from one another.
The child’s situation worsens in most cases when the parent obligated to give legal child support refuses or fails to pay for his or her obligations, said Ocampo.
“Apart from the emotional trauma, the parent who has custody of the child is left with the difficult task of single-handedly raising the child or children” she said.
Current laws do not criminalize those who refuse or intentionally fail to pay child support – however the law does not look at legal aspects of overcrowded jails, understaffed court systems, and inept barangay officials in cementing the reality of the law.
“The custodial parent can only file a motion to cite the obliged parent for indirect contempt for refusal to comply with a valid court order mandating the support provisions,” she said.
Ocampo believes that House Bill 6079 will compel parents to comply with a court ordered child support payment – however, the depth of the bill does not look at reality based objectives in supporting the bill, as well as enforcing the measure one written into law.
The measure has been sent to the House Committee on Welfare and Children for further deliberation – seeing it enacted into law will no doubt be slow, but upholding and sending people to jail for non-payment will be another issue all together.
To learn more on Republic Act #9262 go here —-> RA – 9262