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Dear PAO, My wife left our family residence one year ago.

Last month, I received a call


from her asking for support because she lost her job. I refused because she was the one
who left our house and we dont have a child so I dont have an obligation to give
support. Is my reasoning correct?

Family relation creates legal rights and obligations between and among the members of
the family. One of the legal rights and obligations arising from family ties is support,
which comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical
attendance, education and transportation (Art. 194, Family Code). As provided by law,
the following persons are obliged to support each other:

(1)The spouses;(2)Legitimate ascendants and descendants;(3)Parents and their legitimate


children, and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter;(4)Parents and their
illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; and
(5)Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood (Art. 195, Ibid).

It is clear from the above provision of law that support between spouses is separate from
support between parent and child. It is an independent legal right that exists on its own,
and which the person obliged to give support is mandated to fulfill. Thus, even though a
couple has no child, they are still obliged to support each other. Yet, the right to receive
support has limitations, and it may be lost in certain instances.

One instance where the right to support is lost is when a spouse leaves the conjugal home
or refuses to live therein, without just cause (Art. 100, Id.). Under this law, there are two
requisites before the right to support may be withdrawn under this provision of law, to
wit: desertion or refusal to live in the family home, and there is no just cause for such
action. The term just cause refers to a reasonable and lawful ground for action. It is a
standard of reasonableness used to evaluate a persons actions in a given set of
circumstances (http://legal dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/just+cause). As emphasized
by Prof. Santa Maria, the mere fact of separating from the family home is not a reason to
withdraw the right to support unless there is evidence of any fault or guilt on the spouse
who leaves (Persons and Family Relations Law, p. 451 citing Sumulong vs. Cembrano,
51 Phil. 719).

Applying the foregoing to your case, the fact that you and your wife have no child, and
that she left the house you live in do not automatically disqualify her from receiving
support. Your obligation to support subsists unless you can show that she left your house
and refused to live there without just cause.

MORELAND, J., concurring:


I based my vote in this case upon the ground that a husband cannot, by his own
wrongful acts, relieve himself from the duty to support his wife imposed by law; and
where a husband, by wrongful, illegal, and unbearable conduct, drives his wife from the
domicile fixed by him, he cannot take advantage of her departure to abrogate the law
applicable to the marital relation and repudiate his duties thereunder. In law and for all
purposes within its purview, the wife still remains an inmate of the conjugal domicile; for
I regard it as a principle of law universally recognized that where a person by his
wrongful and illegal acts creates a condition which under ordinary circumstances would
produce the loss of rights or status pertaining to another, the law will, whenever
necessary to protect fully the rights or status of the person affected by such acts, regard
the condition by such acts created as not existing and will recur to and act upon the
original situation of the parties to determine their relative rights or the status of the
person adversely affected.
I do not believe, therefore, that the case is properly conceived by defendant, when the
consideration thereof proceeds solely on the theory that the wife is outside the domicile
fixed by the husband. Under the facts alleged in the complainant the wife is legally still
within the conjugal domicile.