Obligation to Give Support Remains until Marriage is Nullified or Declared Void

Can a spouse ask for support from the other spouse even if they have been separated for years? The short answer is “yes.” The obligation to give support, as an incident of marriage, is expressly provided by law. Article 68 of the Family Code provides that the husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.

The spouses are obliged to support each other (Article 195, Family Code). Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family (Article 194, Family Code).

This obligation to give support is predicated on the fact of marriage. The right to support remains until the marriage is nullified or declared void by the court in a proper petition. The right to support remains in legal separation, which is a proceeding that does not affect the marital bond. In fact, the marital bond is not affected even if the court grants the petition for legal separation. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects, pursuant to Article 63 of the Family Code:

  • (1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed;
  • (2) The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and liquidated;
  • (3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse; and
  • (4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession.

Note that the decree of legal separation does not include the termination of the obligation to give support. The right to support is predicated on the marital bond, which is not affected by the proceedings. 

As noted in a previous post, there are two kinds of separation: de facto (separation in fact) and de jure (legal separation). De facto separation is the physical separation of the spouses without any court proceeding. The length of time does not matter. Neither de jure nor de facto separation affects the marital bond, which means that neither affects the obligation to give (or ask for) support. 


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