VAWC: Acts of Violence against Women and their Children

violence against women and their children vawc 1Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004”, the crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:

  1. Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;

  2. Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

  3. Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

  4. Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;

  5. Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or to desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman’s or her child’s movement or conduct:

    •  Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;

    • Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support;

    • Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;

    • Preventing the woman from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business, or activity or controlling the victim’s own money or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;

  6. Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;

  7. Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;

  8. Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:

    • Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;

    • Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;

    • Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;

    • Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and

    • Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;

  9. Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman’s child/children.

If any of the above acts constitutes repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct as contemplated under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, then such act shall also be a ground for legal separation.

The perpetrator of the crime of violence against women and their children shall, in addition to imprisonment, be liable to (a) pay a fine in the amount of not less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than three hundred thousand pesos (300,000.00); (b) undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and shall report compliance to the court. Also, any victim of said violence shall be entitled to actual, compensatory, moral, and exemplary damages.

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Family Law: Reliefs Available in case of Breach of Family Obligations

As a general rule, mere breach of obligations to the family is not actionable. However, if such breach is GROSS, done IN BAD FAITH and/or WITHOUT JUST CAUSE when one of the spouses (a) neglects his or her duties to the conjugal union, or (b) commits acts which tend to bring danger, dishonor, or injury to the other or to the family, or (c) abandons the other when he or she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning or has failed to give information as to his or her whereabouts, or (d) fails to comply with his or her obligations to the family, the aggrieved spouse may apply to the court for relief. Such relief may be availed of by instituting either a civil action or a criminal action or both in proper cases, to wit:

CIVIL ACTIONS

  1. Complaint for Damages under Articles 19, 20, or 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines if the property regime between the spouses is “Regime of Separation of Property” (Sta. Maria, 2004);

  2. Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines if such failure to comply with family obligations constitutes psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage;

  3. Petition for Legal Separation if the abandonment without justifiable cause is for more than one year or if any other ground for legal separation exists;

  4. Petition for Receivership;

  5. Petition for Judicial Separation of Property;

  6. Petition for Authority to be the Sole Administrator of the Absolute Community Property or Conjugal Partnership of Gains, as the case may be

With respect to the last three-mentioned,  the obligations to the family may refer to marital, parental, or property relations. The reliefs prayed for therein are subject to such precautionary conditions as the court may impose (Articles 101 and 128 of the Family Code of the Philippines).

In cases of legal separation, where violence as specified in R.A. No. 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004” is alleged as ground therefor, Article 58 of the Family Code of the Philippines on the 6-month cooling off period shall not apply. The court shall proceed on the main case and other incidents of the case as soon as possible. The hearing on any application for Protection Order filed by the Petitioner therein must be conducted within the mandatory period specified (R.A. No. 9262, Section 19). The woman victim of violence shall be entitled to the custody and support of her child/children. Children below seven (7) years old, or older but with mental or physical disabilities shall automatically be given to the mother, with right to support, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise. A victim who is suffering from battered woman syndrome shall not be disqualified from having custody of her children. In no case shall custody of minor children be given to the perpetrator of a woman who is suffering from battered woman syndrome (R.A. No. 9262, Section 28).

Moreover, under the rules on criminal procedure, a civil action for legal separation on the ground of concubinage, may proceed ahead of, or SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH, a criminal action for concubinage, because said civil action is not one to enforce the civil liability arising from the offense EVEN IF both the civil action and criminal action arise from or are related to the same offense (Gandionco vs. Peñaranda [1987]). The same rule may apply if the civil action for legal separation is based on the ground of bigamy or adultery.

CRIMINAL ACTIONS

  1. Complaint for Bigamy;

  2. Complaint for Adultery;

  3. Complaint for Concubinage;

  4. Complaint for Violation of R.A. No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004;

  5. Complaint for Violation of R.A. No. 7610, as amended or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination

The pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does not pose a prejudicial question in a criminal action for bigamy, adultery, or concubinage (Beltran vs. People [2000]; Bobis vs. Bobis [2000]). Hence, said criminal actions shall not be suspended pending determination of the civil action. The same rule may apply if the civil action is for legal separation based on the ground of bigamy, adultery, or concubinage.

Finally, in case of violence against women and their children under R.A. No. 9262, the aggrieved spouse/parents may likewise file a Petition for Protection Order for purposes of preventing further acts of violence against a woman or her child and granting other necessary relief.

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Family Law: Rights and Duties of Parents to their Unemancipated Children

The following are the rights and duties of parents with respect to their unemancipated children or children below 18 years of age as provided under Articles 220, 221, and 225 of the Family Code of the Philippines:

  1. To keep them in their company;

  2. To support, educate, and instruct them by right precept and good example;

  3. To provide for their upbringing in keeping with their means;

  4. To give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding;

  5. To provide them with moral and spiritual guidance;

  6. To inculcate in them honesty, integrity, self-discipline, self-reliance, industry, and thrift;

  7. To stimulate their interest in civic affairs;

  8. To inspire in them compliance with the duties of citizenship;

  9. To enhance, protect, preserve, and maintain their physical and mental health at all times;

  10. To furnish them with good and wholesome educational materials;

  11. To supervise their activities, recreation, and association with others;

  12. To protect them from bad company;

  13. To prevent them from acquiring habits detrimental to their health, studies, and morals;

  14. To represent them in all matters affecting their interests;

  15. To demand from them respect and obedience;

  16. To impose discipline on them as may be required under the circumstances;

  17. To be civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused by the acts and omissions of their unemancipated children living in their company and under their parental authority subject to the appropriate defenses provided by law;

  18. To jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of their unemancipated common children without the necessity of a court appointment;

  19. To perform such other duties as are imposed by law upon parents

The relationship between the parents and their minor children naturally gives rise to various rights and obligations affecting the welfare of, and the parents’ control over, the child. Some of these are recognized in law. Other have only a moral sanction. Parental duties, it is said, are not always legal duties, and the law cannot inquire in every case how fathers (and mothers) have fulfilled their duties (59 Am. Jur. 91 as mentioned in Sta. Maria, 2004).

Nevertheless, the above rights and duties of husband and wife with respect to their unemancipated children together with their rights and obligations between themselves as husband and wife under Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code of the Philippines are relevant in determining whether or not either of the spouses is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage. Under Article 36 of the Family Code, a marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration thereof, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage shall be VOID, even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

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