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458

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Fundamentals of an Action for Support ANNOTATION

FUNDAMENTALS OF AN ACTION FOR SUPPORT By Atty. SEVERIANO S. TABIOS 1. Introduction, p. 458. 2. Grounds of Action for Support, p. 460. A. Relationship as Spouses, p. 460. B. Relationship of Ascendant and Descendant, p. 461. C. Relationship of Parents and Acknowledged Natural Children, p. 461. D. Relationship of Parents and Illegitimate Children, p. 462. E. Relationship of Brothers and Sisters, p. 462. 3. Venue of Action for Support, p. 462. 4. Provisional Remedy to an Action for Support, p. 463. A. Requirements of Application and Hearing, p. 463. B. Judicial Disposition and Discretion, p. 464. C. Enforcement of Judicial Order, p. 465. 5. Defenses Against an Action for Support, p. 465. A. Invalidity of Marriage, p. 465. B. Death of Recipient, p. 466. C. Reduction of Means of Defendant, p. 466. D. Recipients Improved Fortune, p. 466.

E. Improper Conduct, p. 467.

1. Introduction. According to the New Civil Code, support is everything that is indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing and medical attendance, according to the social position of the family, including the education of the person entitled to be supported until he completes his education or training for some
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profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of 1 majority. As enunciated in the New Civil Code, support is an obligation that arises from family relationship. Thus, the law requires mutual support from spouses, legitimate ascendants and descendants, parents and acknowledged natural children and the legitimate or illegitimate descendants of the latter, parents and natural children by legal fiction and the legitimate and illegitimate descendants of the latter, and parents and illegitimate children who are not natural. Similarly, brothers and sisters owe their legitimate and natural brothers and sisters, although they are only of the half-blood, the necessities for life, when by a physical or mental defect, or any other cause not imputable 2 to the recipients, the latter cannot secure their subsistence. It is to be noted that under the law the fact that a right to be supported is recognized in favor of the person to be supported such recognition of right does not automatically entitle him to receive support as the obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the person who has a right to receive the same needs it for maintenance and support will not be paid except from the date it is 3 extrajudicially demanded. Appropriately, therefore, the right to demand support arises from imperative necessity, without which it can not be demanded, and the law presumes that such necessity does not exist unless support 4 is demanded. It is to be noted also that in accordance with existing

jurisprudence even an unborn child is entitled to support. In this regard, the Supreme Court declared that a conceived child, although as yet unborn, is given by law a provisional personality of its own for all purposes favorable to it, as explicitly provided in Article 40 of the New Civil Code, and correspondingly has a right to support from its progenitors, even if the said child is only en ventre de sa mere, just as a conceived child, even if as yet unborn, may receive 5 donations under Article 742 of the New Civil Code.
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Art. 290, New Civil Code. Art. 291, New Civil Code. Art. 298, New Civil Code. Jocson, et al. vs. Empire Insurance Co., et al., 55 O.G. 2628. Quimiguing vs. Icao, L-26795, July 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 132, 134. 460

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Fundamentals of an Action for Support

2. Grounds of Action for Support. A. Relationship as Spouses It has been recognized that the marriage relation imposes 6 upon the spouses the obligation to support. Thus, if the wife is forced to leave the conjugal home by causes justifying her establishment of a separate domicile, she is entitled to 7 separate maintenance from the husband. In this regard, the right of a wife to support depends upon her status as 8 such, so that once the marriage has been annulled, the right ceases, even pending the action filed by her for the 9 liquidation of their conjugal property. Although the right of cohabitation and support is 10 mutual, there is, however, a little predominance given by the law to the husband such that the husband is authorized 11 to fix the family residence. Moreover, the courts have recognized the right of a wife to live separately and apart from the husband where the circumstances so justify as follows: where the place chosen by the husband for the

family residence is dangerous to her life, or she is subjected to maltreatment or insults which make common life 12 impossible; or where the husband spends his time in gambling, giving no money to his family for food and their necessities, and at the same time insulting the wife and 13 laying hands on her, or where the husband has continually carried on illicit relations with other women and treated his 14 wife roughly, or where the wife was virtually driven from 15 their home by the husband and threatened with injury. In all the abovementioned instances that justify the wifes
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Art. 109, New Civil Code; Santos vs. Sweeney, 4 Phil. 79; Lerma vs. Goitia vs. Campos Rueda, 35 Phil. 252; Garcia vs. Santiago, 53 Phil.

Mamaril, 9 Phil. 118; Claussen vs. Cabrera, 72 Phil. 252.


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952; Dadivas vs. Villanueva, 54 Phil. 92; Panuncio vs. Sula, 34 O.G. 1291.
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Yangco vs. Rhoda, 1 Phil. 404. Mendoza vs. Parungao, 49 Phil. 271. Art. 109, New Civil Code. Art. 110, New Civil Code. Talaa vs. Willis, 35 O.G. 1369. Panuncio vs. Sula, 34 O.G. 1291. Dadivas vs. Villanueva, 54 Phil. 92. Garcia vs. Santiago, 53 Phil. 952. 461

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establishment of domicile separate from that of the husband, the courts have uniformly required the husband 16 to give support. B. Relationship of Ascendant and Descendant. Under the law, legitimate ascendants and descendants are 17 required to support each other. In this regard, the basis of the right for support is the legitimacy of relationship so that in case the status of a child is denied and placed in issue, no effect can be given to the childs claim for support until an authoritative18declaration has been made as to the existence of the cause. It is to be noted that abandonment of the descendant will

It is to be noted that abandonment of the descendant will deprive the ascendant of the right to receive support from the descendant so abandoned. Thus, where a mother delivered her child to other persons when the child was scarcely two years old, and since then never took care of such child, abandoning her entirely, such mother relinquishes all parental claim and is not entitled to be 19 supported by the child. C. Relationship of Parents and Acknowledged Natural Children. Pursuant to the rule that unacknowledged natural children 20 have no rights whatsoever, a natural child who has not been recognized by the putative father is not entitled to 21 support. However, once the fact of paternity of a natural child is found to have been established by evidence and is no longer disputed by the father, recognition of the child can be 22 compelled and support thereof can be required. Appropriately, the right of
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Goitia vs. Campos Rueda, 35 Phil. 252; Talaa vs. Willis, 35 O.G.

1369; Panuncio vs. Sula, 34 O.G. 1291; Dadivas vs. Villanueva, 54 Phil. 92; Garcia vs. Santiago, 53 Phil. 952; Del Rosario vs. Del Rosario, 46 O.G. 6122.
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Art. 291, New Civil Code. Francisco vs. Zandueta, 61 Phil. 752. Castillo vs. Castillo, O.G. March 27, 1941, p. 968. Serrano vs. Aragon, 22 Phil. 10; Buenaventura vs. Urbano, 5 Phil. Cruz vs. Castillo, L-27232, June 30, 1969, 28 SCRA 719. Cruz vs. Castillo, L-27232, June 30, 1969, 28 SCRA 719, 723-724;

1.
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Navarro vs. Bacalla, L-20607, Oct. 14, 1965, 15 SCRA 114. 462

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Fundamentals of an Action for Support

natural children to be supported by their father depended exclusively on the recognition by the father of his 23 paternity. D. Relationship of Parents and Illegitimate Children.

Under the law, illegitimate children other than natural and 24 children by legal fiction are entitled to support. This grant of right in favor of illegitimate children has been recognized as a form of assistance in order for them to surmount the disadvantages facing them through the misdeeds of their parents, since the transgressions of social conventions committed by the parents should not be visited 25 upon such children. Moreover, in order that an illegitimate child may be entitled to support, it is necessary for him or her to allege that his or her putative father had 26 acknowledged and recognized him or her as such. E. Relationship of Brothers and Sisters. Under the law, the right of a brother or sister to be supported by another brother or sister is limited to the necessaries for life when by a physical or mental defect, or any other cause not imputable to the recipient, the latter 27 cannot secure his or her subsistence. While the assistance includes, in a proper case, expenses necessary for elementary education and for professional or vocational training, even if the brother or sister is only of the half-blood of the one giving support, moreover, the right thereto exists only when there are no descendants or ascendants 28 who can give the support. 3. Venue of Action for Support. While family disputes such as probate, both of testate and intestate estates, appointment of guardians, annulment of marriage, adoptions, declaration of absence, recognition of
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Silva vs. Peralta, L-13114, Aug. 29, 1961, 2 SCRA 1025. Art. 287, New Civil Code. Report of the Code Commission, p. 89. Paulino vs. Paulino, et al., L-15091, December 28, 1961, 3 SCRA Art. 291, New Civil Code. Manresa, Comentarios al Codigo Civil, Vol. I, pp. 669-671. 463

730.
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Fundamentals of an Action for Support natural children, claims for support and other special proceedings not otherwise provided for, are within the 29 original jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance, however, in places where special tribunals for juvenile and domestic relations questions were established, original jurisdiction over specific cases of family disputes has been considered vested30exclusively in said Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. Correspondingly, where a suit such as an action for support is filed in a court other than that which the law invests with jurisdiction to try the case, such a suit 31 will have to be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of the court. 4. Provisional Remedy in an Action for Support. A. Requirements of Application and Hearing. At the commencement of an action for support, or at any time afterwards but prior to final judgment, the plaintiff may file an application for support pendente lite, stating the grounds for the claim and the financial conditions of both parties and supporting the same 32 with affidavits, depositions or other authentic documents. Notice of the application shall be served upon the adverse party who shall have three (3) days to answer, unless a different period of 33 time is fixed by the court. After the answer is filed or after the expiration of the 34 time for its filing, a day will be set for the hearing, whereby the
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Section 44 of the Judiciary Act, as amended, and Rules 73, 92, 100, In Manila, Quezon City and Iloilo, family disputes involving the guardianship, adoption, paternity and acknowledgment,

105 and 107 of the Revised Rules of Court.


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custody,

separation of property, annulment of marriage, legal separation, action for support, declaration of absence and others specifically provided in the New Civil Code are within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the respective Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court created in the respective localities by virtue of the provisions of Republic Acts 1401, 4834 and 4836, respectively.
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PRISCO vs. CIR, 108 Phil. 134; Osmea vs. Hontanosas, L-31373,

Jan. 22, 1970, 31 SCRA 48; Macailing vs. Andrada, L-21607, Jan. 30,

1970, 31 SCRA 126; Laquian vs. Baltazar, L-27514, Feb. 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 552; Pacana vs. Cebu Autobus Co., L-25382, April 30, 1970, 32 SCRA 442.
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Section 1, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court.. Sections, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court. Section 4, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court. 464

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Fundamentals of an Action for Support

defendant is afforded the opportunity to prove his defense. Of course, it is not necessary to allow the parties to go fully into the merits of the case, it being sufficient that the court should ascertain the kind and amount of evidence deemed sufficient to enable it to justly resolve the application one way or the other in view of the provisional character of the 36 resolution to be entered. Moreover, where the status or juridical relation alleged by the applicant as ground for his right to support is denied by the adverse party, the evidence thereon shall be clear and satisfactory as the lack of proof thereon would render an order granting support pendente 37 lite as having been issued in excess of jurisdiction. B. Judicial Disposition and Discretion. After having determined provisionally the facts, the court shall render such order as equity and justice may require, having due regard to the necessities of the applicant, the means of the adverse party, the probable outcome of the case, and such other circumstances as may aid in the proper elucidation of the question involved. Correspondingly, if the application is granted, the court shall fix the amount of money to be provisionally paid and the terms of payment. On the other hand, if the application is denied, the trial of the principal action on its merits shall be held as early as 38 possible. It is to be emphasized that the order, whether denying or granting support pendente lite, is interlocutory and consequently not appealable. However, in case the application is granted, the order is immediately executory. Moreover, it has been held that while an order denying or granting support pendente lite is interlocutory and,

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consequently, non-appealable, however, if appeal is taken therefrom, and no timely objection is interposed thereto the 39 objection is deemed waived.
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Sanchez vs. Zulueta, 68 Phil. 110; Mangoma vs. Macadaeg, L-5153, Sanchez vs. Zulueta, 68 Phil. 110; Mangoma vs. Macadaeg, L-5153, Yangco vs. Rhode, 1 Phil. 404; Lanzuela Santos vs. Sweeney, 4 Phil.

Dec. 10, 1951.


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Dec. 10, 1951.


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79; Herera vs. Barreto, 25 Phil. 245; Francisco vs. Zandueta, 61 Phil. 752, 757.
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Section 5, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court. Salazar vs. Salazar, L-5823, April 29, 1953. 465

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C. Enforcement of Judicial Order. It has been held that disobedience to an order granting 40 support pendente lite constitutes contempt of court. However, before he is punished for contempt, the defendant who fails to comply with the court order must show cause 41 why he should not be punished for contempt. In this regard, should the defendant appear to have means to pay support and refuse to pay, either an order of execution may be issued or a penalty for contempt may be imposed or 42 both. Finally, an order for support pendente lite is in its very nature contingent and the dismissal of the main action 43 has the effect of abrogating the order. 5. Defenses Against an Action for Support. A. Invalidity of Marriage. Since the marriage relation imposes upon the spouses the 44 mutual obligation of support, the cessation of marriage relation 45 will necessarily terminate such obligation of support. Thus, according to the New Civil Code, the obligation of mutual support between the spouses ceases

after the final judgment of annulment of marriage. Appropriately, the invalidity of marriage is a defense against an action for support, although support pendente lite may still be 47 achieved during the proceedings for annulment of marriage. Moreover, if the answer of the defendant denies the marriage between him and plaintiff, thus putting in issue the very status of the plaintiff, support pendente lite should not be allowed, until the 48 marriage is established as a fact.
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Mendoza vs. Parungao, 41 Phil. 271; Perkins vs. Perkins, 57 Phil. Section 6, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court. Section 6, Rule 61, Revised Rules of Court. Saavedra vs. Ibaez, 56 Phil. 33. Art. 109, New Civil Code; Claussen vs. Cabrera, 72 Phil. 252. Mendoza vs. Parungao, 49 Phil. 271. Art 292, New Civil Code. 292, New Civil Code. Yangco vs. Rhode, 1 Phil. 404. 466

223, 224; Hashim vs. Concepcion, 42 Phil. 694,696.


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47Art. 48

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Fundamentals of an Action for Support

B. Death of Recipient. Under the law, the obligation to49 give support shall cease upon the death of the recipient. Thus, where a judgment for support was rendered, under which the defendant was to pay to the mother of a child, as support for the latter, a certain sum, the death of the child extinguishes the obligation to support, because the support is not for the 50 benefit of the mother but of the child. C. Reduction of Means of Defendant. According to the New Civil Code, the obligation to give support shall cease when the resources of the obligor have been reduced to the point where he cannot give the support 51 without neglecting his own needs and those of his family.

Appropriately, however, the reduction of means as a defense does not apply to support of spouses for it refers more to a case where the recipient is a stranger to the family of the 52 obligor. D. Recipient s Improved Fortune. According to law, the obligation to give support shall cease when the recipient engages in a trade, profession, or industry, or has obtained work, or has improved his fortune in such a way that he no longer needs the allowance for his 53 subsistence. Thus, if in spite of the ability to practice the profession, art or trade, or even its actual practice, the necessities of the recipient continue without his fault, the 54 obligation to give what is needed subsists. Appropriately, it is the sufficiency of income derived from the practice of profession, art or trade that determines the necessity for support and so a father is not obliged to give support to his children if they have their own properties or profession or industry,55 from which they get sufficient income for their subsistence.
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Art 303, New Civil Code. Malabanan vs. Abeto, 74 Phil. 13. Art. 303 (2), New Civil Code. Corral vs. Gallego, 38 O.G. 3158. Art. 303 (3), New Civil Code. Corral vs. Gallego, 38 O.G. 3158. Manresa, Comentario al Codigo Civil, Vol. I, p. 697. 467

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E. Improper Conduct. Two instances of improper conduct have been recognized by the New Civil Code as reasons for which the obligation to give support shall cease, namely: (a) when the recipient, be he a forced heir or not, has committed some act which gives rise to disinheritance; and (b) when the recipient is a descendant, brother or sister of the obligor and the need for

support is caused by his or her bad conduct or by the lack 56 of application to work, so long as this cause subsists. Accordingly, a mother who delivered her child to a couple and since then ever took care of such child, completely abandoning her, can not later ask for support from the 57 child. Similarly, since under Article 921 of the Civil Code a spouse may be disinherited when he or she has given cause for legal separation and adultery is a cause for legal separation under Article 97 thereof, therefore, pursuant to Article 303 par. 4 of the New Civil Code, adultery on the part of the wife is a valid defense in an action for 58 maintenance brought by her against the husband. Moreover, even the refusal of the person seeking support to live with the obligor without any justifiable reason 59 extinguishes the obligation to give support.
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Art. 303 (4 & 5), New Civil Code. Castillo vs. Castillo, O.G. March 17, 1941, p. 968. Quintana vs. Lerma, 24 Phil. 285; Sanchez vs. Zulueta, 68 Phil. People vs. Miraflores, CA-G.R. No. 43384, April 30, 1937. 468

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