Thursday, February 28, 2013

The how-to for child support

Disclaimer: This post should not be taken as an expert's opinion. I'm not a lawyer but I reckon someone out there may be asking Google about the matter, as my friend and fellow blogger Raine said (she's happily married  by the way). Let's just say I've been in your shoes before and want to share my experience hoping that I can help someone out there in my blogger's way of writing a how-to post. Please excuse the occasional expletives. Spare me too your pontifications, I have enough of that. 

If you are going through this right now or know someone who needs someone who has "been there been that" (hahaha), please send me an email at I can be a friend and can recommend a good lawyer for your child support battle.

- o0o -

Before we start, allow me to be blunt about this and state the obvious - it will not only be a financial battle but more importantly, an emotional one. Wounds, whether fresh or old, will be opened, you will have to recall everything that transpired and you have to be pretty resolute about seeking support from your former husband, boyfriend, partner, sperm donor and whatever you call him. It is inevitable that you will face this man, who has not only left you with a broken heart but also in a financial rut. This will be a painful ordeal but remember, you are doing this for your child/children because they are entitled to it, it is their right and you have to do something on their behalf.


As I mentioned, I was in this situation once. He religiously gave monthly support the entire nine months I was pregnant but after giving birth to my daughter, not even a centavo was given. I was confused whether to run after him for child support or just allow the law of Karma to chase him. The emotional toll was too much and I didn't want to be sidetracked from taking care of my infant. That time I didn't want anything to do with him anymore, never mind that his medical practice was picking up and charges six-figure every time he opens someone's head. I was dead set that I will raise Leia alone, come hell or high water.

But after a heart-to-heart convo with Dad, I realized how selfish I was for allowing my pride to get the better of me. By not doing anything, I was practically stealing from my own daughter what is rightfully hers. It was not a question of whether I can raise her alone but what the law can do in order to protect and uphold her rights. My parents' prodding to be honest, made me swallow my pride and the following day I sought legal advice. That was two years ago. This is my story and here are things you need to do should you reach a point where you've had enough being Miss or Mrs. Nice Girl. Please refrain from doing anything scandalous, it may be thrown back at you or worse, may be used against you. Your best weapon is to think logically and act maturely.

Okay, so are you ready and set? Then let's go!

1. Find a lawyer - they don't come cheap but in my experience, every peso is worth it. The lawyer will give you legal advice on how best to proceed and walk you through all the steps since not all child support cases are the same . If you cannot afford one, you can go to the VAWC (Violence Against Women and Children) office of the City Hall and they will assist you as they have lawyers specializing in RA 9262 or the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004". In Davao City, it is located at the second floor of the City Hall, same floor as the Mayor's Office. The office is called IGDD (Integrated Gender and Development Division). Everything under RA 9262 they will be ready to help you with. They will interview you, ask you questions regarding your complaint and be your most honest self. Don't worry, you are in good hands. Majority, if not all of the staff and lawyers working there are women and have been trained on how to handle this special case. 

2. Prepare your narrative - Okay, so this was perhaps the most excruciating thing I have to do - to write down everything from the beginning until you got to this point. With this process I had to recall the good and bad and put it on paper. OUCH! Honesty is the best policy here ladies, no pain no gain for your cause. For the much needed bravado, I had to drink two cans of beer if only to get my hands and mind working. Warning: This will stress your tear ducts and make your heart beat gazillion times because of all the emotions associated with the person.

My best advice - don't stress yourself too much. Write only what you can for that day unless you want to get it over and done with the soonest possible time. Allowing some breathing space actually helps you remember things you would otherwise forget if you write your narrative like there's no tomorrow. Support from your family and friends is very important especially if in the course of writing, you remember how he did a Chuck Norris on you and your kid (Missing In Action) and you want to do Arnold Schwarzenegger on him (translated - you want to be his Terminator). You should not be too proud to cry and admit pain. It helps, believe me. Reserve that brave front for when you have your family conference. I'll discuss that next.

3. The demand letter and the family conference - once you have consulted a lawyer or the city IGDD office, the next step is the preparation of a demand letter signed by a counsel on your behalf. It will be on a letterhead of the law office that is helping you with the case or the IGDD. The demand letter will be sent to his office address, business address, home address, sibling's address or in the address where he is more likely to receive the communication. Someone can receive it on his behalf and acknowledge receipt so there is no denying he did not get the letter. The tone would be something like "we are reminding you to fulfill your obligation to your child so and so..." In the case of the IGDD a family conference will be scheduled to discuss how much the support will be. This is an inevitable part of the process. He will be given the chance to explain himself. It will be discussed how much the actual child expenses are (only the necessities here, sadly the expenses that go along with the weekly trips to the malls are not considered basic needs) vis-a-vis how much he is earning. Tension and emotions will run at record high here but try your damn best to be calm. Easier said than done but at least try.

Please keep any deadly weapon at home when you show up for the family conference. Seriously.

4. Drafting the agreement -  if the powers of the universe conspire and the father of your kid will issue no contest - then an agreement will be prepared right there and then where the details of how much financial support will be given, the schedule and how it will be given shall be explicitly declared. Both of you will sign this document in the presence of the lawyer and you can breathe now. Of course visitation rights will also have to be given him but if he chooses not to have any relationship with his child for whatever stupid reason, it's not going to be your loss. However, if he will play hardball and come up with reasons why he cannot fulfill his obligation to the child (as the usual case is), it may require another meeting or you can then file a case and go to trial. Some men will go as low as denying paternity (if he has not yet signed the birth certificate) so you have to be able to establish that there indeed was a consummated relationship (please don't let me be graphic) and at some point, he admitted that he is indeed the father supported by evidence. I cannot overemphasize the importance of establishing paternity as this will be the basis for everything.

In extreme cases, he will push for DNA testing. Don't worry, under the law whoever questions the paternity should pay for the test. Only results from court-accredited DNA testing centers will be admissible  - either NBI (Php 20,000/per sample so that's Php 60,000 for you, him and the kid) or St. Luke's (I don't know if it's Php 25,000 or higher).

5. Going to court and settlement - push comes to shove and you have no choice but to go to court since it can no longer be settled amicably. Family courts now are required to conduct mediation to lessen the number of cases that actually go to formal trial. Your lawyer will file the case then inform you of the schedule for your mediation. It's like a family conference only that it will be handled by a court-appointed mediator and your lawyers will be present. In my case, the mediator called it "tawaran" until both parties come up with an agreed amount. I wanted to puke because my daughter's future and what her father did to her can never be haggled! But as a law abiding citizen I had to bite my tongue and the piercing look from my lawyer when i started showing signs of being emotional. We did back and forth on the amount until the mediator said we have to schedule another mediation the following week to allow cooler heads to prevail. My counsel advised me to accept the last figure he quoted because for a three-year old, it was a reasonable amount. I said I have to think about it and confer with my parents. Tito Jet gave me a picture that if we go to formal trial we will spend more because we need to present experts and other related expenses.

The following week we agreed and our lawyers did the paper works which we had to sign. He acknowledged paternity of my daughter and agreed to pay X amount every month, to be given to my lawyer's office then deposited to Leia's account. So far he has been true to his word. For my daughter's sake I hope he does not develop selective amnesia.

It was an arduous journey, more than once I thought of giving up the fight but I pressed on for Leia. I know one day she will understand why giving up was never an option even if it meant washing some dirty linens in public. To this day, I still keep my sperm donor's identity a secret and I will continue doing so for my daughter's sake. I have not stopped working because the money given to her monthly is hers alone. That I can assure you Doctor.

I made some bad decisions in the past and I can never undo them. I have loved and been loved yet somewhere along the way things fell apart but it's no excuse to deny Leia of a good future. I went through these experiences and will use my learning to help those who will need it - let's call it a mission. I have written this post because I realized if I made it through, other mothers can too.

Love, strength and courage to all you Ina-Tays out there. True, we raise our kids alone but it only means that we love them twice as much.

There is always hope, for as long as you don't give up. Let me quote that tagline from a multi-vitamin ad - "think positive, hwag kang aayaw!"


  1. Kudos to you Lan for being courageous and generous in sharing this. You effort will not go wasted as I know this will help and inspire lots of people.I have already shared this post to two friends who are in similar position.

  2. Thank you also to you Raine for the much-needed push, this post would not have materialized if you didn't support me. It took me a few months but here it is. Unta makatabang ni Raine, I really hope. :)