SC Approves Rules on Action for Support and Petitions for Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments on Support

May 28, 2021

The Supreme Court has approved the rules that will provide for an expedited procedure in actions for support and in petitions for recognition and enforcement of foreign decisions or judgments on support.

The Rules on Action for Support and Petition for Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Decisions or Judgments on Support (A.M. No. 21-03-02- SC), which take effect on May 31, 2021, shall provide for a procedure to determine the rights and obligations of individuals to give and receive support, and the recognition and prompt enforcement of judgments or decisions for support in accordance with applicable laws, to promote the best interests of the child.

The Rules shall not preclude the filing of a verified application for support pendente lite or during litigation under Rule 61 of the 2019 Amendments to the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, and spousal and child support under the Rule on Provisional Orders, and shall apply to children regardless of the marital status of their parents. “Child” refers to a person below 18 years old, or 18 years of age and above who, because of a physical or mental disability, is unable to fully support himself of herself. On the other hand, the term “support” comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education, and transportation.

The action for support shall be filed with the Family Court, single-sala, or multiple-sala court handling family cases which has territorial jurisdiction over the place where the child or the one to give support actually resides. If the one to give support does not reside in the Philippines, or if his or her whereabouts are unknown, the action shall be filed in the court where the plaintiff resides, or where any property of the defendant is located in the Philippines.

The Rules incorporate provisions of the 2019 Amendments to the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, such as pleadings allowed, parts and contents of a pleading, prohibition of a motion to dismiss except on certain grounds, summons, effect of failure to plead, pre-trial, and trial. However, certain periods for compliance were shortened due to the urgent nature of support actions, such as the period to file an answer (15 calendar days from service of summons, or, in cases where plaintiff files an amended complaint, 15 calendar days after being served with a copy thereof), set pre-trial (not later than 30 calendar days from the filing of the last responsive pleading), present evidence (30 calendar days each for plaintiff and defendant), and render judgment (30 calendar days upon admission of evidence).

Also incorporated are the guidelines in fixing child and spousal support under the Proposed Rule on Provisional Orders (A.M. No. 02-11-12-SC dated 4 March 2003).

The amount of support in the judgment may be reduced or increased proportionally, according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of the recipient and the resources or means of the person obliged to furnish the same.

The only pleadings allowed to be filed are the: a.) complaint, b.) the answer thereto which may contain a compulsory counterclaim and/or cross-claim; and c.) the answer to such counterclaim and/or cross-claim. No motion to dismiss the complaint shall be allowed except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter; that another action is pending between the same parties for the same cause; and that the cause of action is barred by a prior judgment; provided however, that any other ground that might warrant a dismissal of the case may be raised as an affirmative defense in the answer.

Likewise, motions for reconsideration of the judgment or new trial shall not be entertained. Appeal shall be allowed only on the following grounds: 1) absence of bases for recognition and enforcement; 2) existence of grounds for refusing recognition and enforcement; 3) existence of questions or issues regarding the authenticity or integrity of the foreign judgment or decision or any of the documentary requirements; and 4) fulfillment of the obligation.

Partial recognition and enforcement can be applied for, and the court may recognize or enforce such severable parts of the foreign judgment or decision which can be so recognized or enforced.

Furthermore, the court shall not review the merits of the foreign decision or judgment of a judicial or administrative authority and shall be bound by the findings of fact on which such authority based its jurisdiction.

Judgments are immediately executory. An appeal shall not stay their execution, nor will a petition for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus cause the suspension of the proceedings or execution, unless a restraining order is issued by the proper court. Integrated in the Rules are the execution and enforcement measures found in the Rules of Court, the Family Courts Act of 1997, and jurisprudence.

The proceedings and records of these cases shall be confidential and cannot be related or disclosed to non-parties without the court’s written approval.

The Rules are expected to benefit many Filipinos seeking cross-border child and spousal support or recognition and enforcement of support decisions or judgments rendered by a foreign body or court. Before the approval of these Rules, the current rules applicable to the recovery of support were either provisional in nature or those for ordinary civil actions, which do not take into account the unique and urgent nature of actions for support.

The Philippines is a member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). On July 14, 2010, it acceded to the HCCH Statute effective, as well as four other HCCH Conventions: the Apostille Convention, Hague Service Convention, Child Abduction Convention, and Hague Adoption Convention.

Subsequently, the Court created a Special Committee on the Hague Convention on Child Support to study and propose amendments to local rules of procedure on support and recognition and enforcement of foreign support judgments to make these align with the Convention.