By: Giulz Garcia
The commitment to say “I do” brings the hope of a successful marriage. Unfortunately, in this age when broken homes have become all too common, marriage requires hard work – a part of it is to accept the fact that something may come up and destroy the union and the commitment you’ve made with your spouse. Wives, in particular, should be aware of their legal rights. When cheating or death occurs, what do you do? What do you get? What are your powers? Knowing your rights as a legal wife is a powerful knowledge that will come in handy when unfortunate events happen.
The Right to File For a Concubinage Case
The legal wife has all the power to go after her philandering husband. Here in the Philippines, the act of concubinage is a criminal offense and the cheating husband can very much end up in jail once a case is pursued. If your husband is “keeping a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, having sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances with a woman who is not his wife, or cohabitating with her in any other place,” you can file for a case under RA 9262, or the Anti-violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004. One instance is enough to file a case. However, this poses a problem for most wives – you need solid evidence of concubinage for the case to triumph. If you’re on a mission to deal with your cheating husband legally, a good lawyer that can advise smart strategies can possibly help you.
The Right to File Against an Abusive Spouse
As a legal wife, you don’t have to live through the nightmare of abuse. You have the power to save yourself and your children from harm caused by an abusive spouse. Abuse – whether it be verbal or physical – is already considered a crime under the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004. You don’t need to be battered to file a case. Psychological abuse – one that is “causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as, but not limited to, intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule, or humiliation” – is enough to file a case and to request a protection order against your husband.
The Right to Claim Conjugal Properties
One of the most important rights of the legal wife is the claim to conjugal properties. Except only when a prenuptial agreement was signed, anything you and your husband owned at the time of marriage, plus properties you have acquired during the marriage are considered conjugal property or community property. As long as you’re still the legal wife and the contract of marriage still binds you together, you have a claim over your marriage’s conjugal properties even if you and your husband are no longer living together.
In Case of Death, the Right to Claim Husband’s Remains
As long as you’re not yet annulled, the legal wife will always have the right to claim the remains of her deceased husband. This right doesn’t take into consideration whether you are still in good terms or already living separate lives for many years. As long as the contract of marriage still binds the husband and wife, the husband’s remains automatically go to to the wife.
The Right to Ask for Spousal Support
As long as the legal wife and spouse are still married, the wife has the right to ask for spousal support (also known as alimony). The law clearly states that one of the obligations of married parties is to support family members, including the spouse. This right, however, is denied from the offending spouse. The only ground for the wife to not be eligible for spousal support is when she is guilty of abandonment – an act of leaving the home for three or more months without letting the other party know of her whereabouts. The act of leaving the home to escape an abusive spouse is not considered abandonment and the wife has all the rights to require her spouse to give alimony. This responsibility is stopped once marriage is annulled.
They say the law is unfair to women, but fortunately, it can be fair for the legal wives. Through their legal rights, wives will no longer be silent victims. With the help of the law, the wife can fight and claim for what is rightfully hers.
Giulz Garcia is a mother to a 14-month old cookie monster. She loves to sing, write, and give kisses to boo-boos. She considers motherhood her favorite roller coaster ride.