PARENTS TO BE PENALIZED FOR REFUSING TO GIVE CHILD SUPPORT

MANILA — Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo (6th District, Manila) has filed House Bill 6079 which seeks to penalize parents for refusing or failing to give legal child support without justifiable cause. Parents refer to those obliged to give child support under the proposed law.

Ocampo said the issue of child support remains to be one of the most difficult issues to resolve between couples hounded by the pain of separation.

“Apart from the emotional trauma, the parent who has custody of the child is left with the difficult task of raising on his or her own the child or children,” she explained.

Ocampo, vice chair of House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Games and Amusement and on Natural Resources, said the situation becomes more agonizing when the parent, who is obliged to give legal child support, refuses or fails to remit the support.

“Hence, the welfare of the child is compromised, especially when the custodial parent does not have the means to sustain the needs of the child,” she said.

Ocampo lamented that the present laws do not penalize anyone who refuses or intentionally fails to pay the legal child support.

“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 added that this makes it easier for the obliged parent to neglect the support owed to the child, even if that parent is financially capable. “It is the child who suffers the most from this conflict,” she said.

To address this situation, Ocampo proposed penalties of fines and imprisonment against the obliged parent if found guilty of refusing or failing to give legal child support without justifiable cause.

Under the bill, legal child support refers to 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 No. 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.” The amount is to be remitted by the parent obliged to give support to the parent who has the legal custody or parental authority over the child.

The measure declares it unlawful for any person to refuse or fail without justifiable cause to give legal child support amounting to more than P30,000 or for a period of more than six months.

Likewise, it shall be unlawful for any person to pay less than the amount determined by the court as legal child support amounting to more than P30,000 or for a period of more than one year.

For the first offense, any person who commits any of the prohibited acts enumerated in this Act shall suffer the penalty of a fine in the amount of P25,000 or imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than one year or both and the lump sum settlement of the total unpaid legal child support.

For subsequent offenses, the bill provides the penalty of a fine of P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than two years or both and the lump sum settlement of the total unpaid legal support.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Welfare and Children chaired by Rep. Aurora Enerio Cerilles (2nd District, Zamboanga del Sur). PNA