Basic issues in child custody

Custody of children is one of the most intense aspects in family litigation. A custody battle could be an independent case or a mere incident in an annulment/separation case. Here are some basic matters relating to custody.

In custody disputes, what is the paramount criterion?

The paramount criterion in custody disputes is the welfare and well-being of the child, or the best interest of the child. The court, in arriving at its decision as to whom custody of the minor should be given, must take into account the respective resources and social and moral situations of the contending parents. Nevertheless, this primordial rule can override the rights of one or both parents over their children.

What is the general rule as to custody over children?

The general rule is that a child under seven years of age shall not be separated from his mother, which is based on the basic need of a child for his mother’s loving care. Article 213 of the Family Code provides that “[n]o child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.” This is more pronounced in case of illegitimate children, as the law expressly provides that illegitimate children shall be under the parental authority of their mother.

Is this rule absolute?

This rule is not absolute. Even a mother may be deprived of the custody of her child who is below seven years of age for “compelling reasons.” Instances of unsuitability are neglect, abandonment, unemployment and immorality, habitual drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity, and affliction with a communicable illness. Negligent and careless failure to perform the duties of parenthood is a significant element of abandonment, regardless of actual intention. A strong basis for a finding of the parent’s abandonment of his or her child is found in the case where the parent has left the child permanently or indefinitely in the care of others, given it to another, or surrendered it entirely.

I left my child to a relative, even signing a document to such effect. Am I barred from taking back my child?

Parental authority and responsibility are inalienable and may not be transferred or renounced except in cases authorized by law. The right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows a waiver of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children’s home or an orphan institution. When a parent entrusts the custody of a minor to another, such as a friend or godfather, even in a document, what is given is merely temporary custody and it does not constitute a renunciation of parental authority. Even if a definite renunciation is manifest, the law still disallows the same.

The rule is that children older than 7 years old are allowed to state his preference. Is the court bound by such preference?

While such choice is given respect, the court is not bound by that choice. The court may exercise its discretion by disregarding the child’s preference should the parent chosen be found to be unfit, in which instance, custody may be given to the other parent, or even to a third person. Decisions on custody of children are always open to adjustment as the circumstances may warrant.

352 thoughts on “Basic issues in child custody

  1. Jackie Lyn

    Good afternoon attorney…

    Hingi po sana ako ng advice sayo po wla na akung malapitan ofw po kc ako nadto singapore nagwork as DH..ito po yung case..hindi kmi kasal ng partner ko,may anak kmi isa whch s 7 yrs.yrs.old now,ito nangyar,wla po syang work simula nung nanganak ako maybe he work for ahwile like less 1 yr.tapos wla nang work,gumagamit sya ng shabu 6yrs.maybe tumigil lng xa less a year kc now nkapasok ng work sa republic cement bago lang wla pang isang buwan,palagi kming nag aaway minsn ng wlang dhilan hanggang nwalan na ako ng gana kc gnyan sya wlang work,drug addict,tamad,temper minsan..hanggang nakita ako ng mas sa knya minahal ko kc dun ko nkita lahat sa knya hanggang nalaman nya dun na magsimula ang lahat ang away…hanggang umuwi ng hiwalayan tapos ngaun sasabihin nya wla akung karapatan sa anak ko kc may iba na akung bf simula sapol aku ng pagkain sa knya 7yrs.wla syang work at addict..the question s tinaggalan nya ako ng karapatan sa anak ko kahit kausapin ko di pwde,hindi ko na dw makakasama f uwi ako ng pinas,lahat bawal na,kahit supporta ko sa anak ko ayaw nyang tanggapin na..love na love ko anak ko attorney wlang ina na tatalikuran ang anak..ano po gagawin ko attorney…

    Reply
  2. Rina

    Hi , im seeking an advise ln po for my niece. Both her parents were alive kaso yun daddy nya nambabae which results into separation nila ng ate ko.. They were separated for more than 2 years and now hiniram nila un bata pra mgbakasyon pero ayaw na nila pabalikin. As per lola nun bata ndi sya papayag n ndi mpunta sknya ang bata. They were fighting for their rights pero un daddy nun bata adopted ln so technically no blood related un bata sa lola n gusto magkron ng rights s bata. 14 years old n un bata and since cla un nkasama nun bata as she grows up nun ok p parents nya dun nya gusto. Please advise anu pde nmin gawin kasi that family has a poor/bad background especially sa pagiging kunsintidor nila kya un kpatid ng daddy ng bata grows up being a mistress of everyone which is ayaw nmin kagisnan ng bata. And now ndi p nila binabalik yun bata which is pinagpaalam ln nila ng vacation for 1 week
    Thank you in advance sa advise po

    Reply
  3. Jim

    I am only a US citizen – my wife and two sons are dual. Married almost seven years. Boys are 4 and 8. oldest boy was wifes before our marriage was adopted by me in US prior to him and wife becoming US citizens and then reaquiring filipino. youngest boy born in US to wife prior to her being US citizen wife and I married in Philippines. She as no job and only had 7 month job in US. She has house loan, I paying for, and after buying 9 hectares and planting them she suddenly wants me gone – Lied about age to father of first boy, and got pregnant at 15, then lied to hospital and told them she was 19 when boy born. Told another man in facebook chat she did not love me and wanted his ring on her finger, three months after we married -I forgave her. was all lovey dovey till we moved to philippines then forover six months she would take off onweekends and leave me with oldest boy – he in TKD. sometime also leave youngest with me. When I told her that was just too much she told me she no longer wanted sex but would do wifely duty sometimes. Then bought farm land and said we done now. Should I seek divorce in US or annulment in Philippines? I want me and boys to stay in Philippines and been proud of heritage here because they can always go to US later, besides I honestly believe they get better education here in private schools

    Reply
  4. Tinybubbles

    Good day! I would like to seek legal help regarding the case of my boyfriend. He has a 6 year old son who is turning seven year old this December. The mother wants to take the child with her. But she has no work. The child does’nt want to go with his mother since he experienced traumatic incidents before when he was with his mother. What can we do so that we cant give the child to her. Thank you very much

    Reply
  5. Ruben

    Magandang araw po sa inyo,

    Ako po ay isang ama na nakatira sa Brgy. Krus na Ligas QC, nais ko lamang po dumulog sa inyong tanggapan patungkol sa kustodiya ng aking anak.
    Ako po ay hindi kasal sa aking kinakasama at mayroon kaming isang anak na babae na nasa 2 taon gulang na nasa akin po nakaapelyido. Nais ko po sana na humiwalay sa aking kinakasama na kasama ko ang aking anak, dahil po sa kanyang masmang bisyo na paggamit ng droga. Sa ilang taon po naming pagsasama ay marami na pong beses na sya ay aking nahulihan ng mga gamit nya sa pagddroga at dahil sa aking mahabang pasensya ay makailang ulit ko din sya sinabihan at pinagbigyan sa pag-asang darating ang araw at sya ay magbabago at magpupursigi na lamang na maging mabuting ina sa aming anak. Ang kanya pong bisyo ay hindi na lingid sa kaalaman sa aming lugar, maging ang kanyang ina ay alam ang kanyang masamang gawain na ito. Dalawang taon na po ang aming anak, dalawang taon na dn ako na umaasa sa kanyang pagbabago, pero paulit ulit na lamang po ang nangyayari at hindi pa din nya tinitigil ang kanyang bisyo. Ako po ay nangangamba sa kinabukasan ng aming anak, ako lamang po ang may trabaho sa amin lagi ko po iniisip kung paano mkakaipon para sa kinabukasan ng aking anak kung hindi nya tinitigil ang kanyang masamang bisyo, madalas ako ay nawawalan ng pera sa bahay sa sarili naming kwarto at iyon nga po sya nyang ginagamit pang bisyo na sana ay magagastos para sa aming pangaraw araw at para sa bata. Kung sa usapang moral po ay kahit ang kanyang ina ay magsasabi na hindi sya mabuting anak at ina ng kanyang mga anak, dahil san kanyang mainiting ulo at mga pagmumura nito maging sa kanyang ina, marahil dahil na din sa epekto ng masamang bisyo sa kanya. Marami ang nagsasabi na akin na lamang po itakas ang aking anak, pero ako po ay nangangamba dahil alam ko na labag ito sa batas, kaya nman po sa inyo na kinauukulan ako po ay dumudulog ng tulong o payo sa kung ano po ba ang aking dapat gawin para mapunta sa akin ang aming anak ng naaayon sa legal at tamang proseso. Maraming salamat po sa inyong panahon.

    Reply
  6. Noel

    Dears,

    Good am po,tnong ko lng po,ofw po ako,at may anak kme ng exwife ko,nsa pinas ung anak ko s pangangalaga ng lola nya sa side ng ex ko,babae po anak ko,3years old n po sya,tanong ko lng po pwede ko b mkuha ung anak ko kasi d nmn sya ang mg aalaga s anak nmen,if ever d n ako mg abroad,or else pwede ko b mahiram ung bata at ipasyal ko po s pangasinan,recently nsa leyte ung bata,slamat po,

    Noel

    Reply
  7. IRENE

    Good am po , ask ko lang po kasi ako po ay hiwalay ng almost 7 years na po, nasa Singapore po kame sa side ng asawa ko pati anak ko. nanbabae po siya at pinili nya ang abbae nya ng mga panahon na yung gulogulo ako at sinabi ng nmga inlaws ko at asawa ko di pede dalhin ang bata dahil s gulo gulo atwala ko trabaho paguwi ng pilipinas wala ko choice kung hindi iwan, yumg mga una taon lumipas na umuwi sila s pilipinas kasama ang anak ko tinago nila at di sinasabi na nandito ang anak ko nalaman ko po yun at lumapit ako sa Pao nagkasundo kame ng asawa ko at pumirma s mga kasunduan, . nagging mabait ang mga inlaws ko kasi wal sila choice kaya pag umuuwi sila ditto sa pinas sinasabi na nila sa akin pero eto mga taon kapag may bago girlgriend ang asawa ko sinasama pa nya anganak s mga date ng mga babae nya at di po yun makakabuti sa anak ko di na po ganun naalagaan ang anak ko kasi lahat sila may trabaho umuuwi nalng ang ank ko mgisa ngbyahe sya magisa sya po ay 10 yrs old palang at elementary palang. yung anak ko pag tumatawag ako damadama ko dame nya gusto sabihin sakin pero nasa paligid nya ang asawa ko at mga inlaws ko. may posibilidad ba makuha ko ang anak ko pag umabot kame s korte ? ang anak ko ay 10 years old na po, babae, ako po ay natratrabaho sa isang opisina. tiniis ko lata para lang wag mahirapan ang emosyon ang anak ko pero lalo po ata nahihirapan ang emosyon ng anak ko pag nasa kanila. anak ko kasi parang takot mgsabi sakin o magkwento pag andyan ang mga inlaws ko. ayaw na din ako papuntahing ng asawa ko sa Singapore kasi magaglit daw ang girlfriend nya. please tulungan nyo give me advice po. pano ko makukuha ang anak ko.

    Reply
  8. Yam

    Hi.Please Help Me. I am a Filipino, Single Parent.

    I am A single parent with two children. The father of my children, ever since Birth Abandoned me, and did not provide a single sent for the bringing up of my children. My children have been living with my parents and my siblings. My Mom and Dad have been the direct guardian to my children. Since the need for financial, i have been working as a Domestic Helper to provide money to my parents for my Children Upbringing. My children have expressed that they don’t want to be with their father, because he is i responsible, and they don’t have future, basic need and providence at the fathers place.The father of my children have not provided anything for them throughout the 13 years that my children have grown Up. In the early days, when i asked for support he refused to provide. Before he cheated me, He already was married, and has children. He is Also A Filipino just like me.
    Now, my children are grown up, 12 and 13 years old. Last Month He went to my parents home and took my two children away from the house, and brought them to his house to Stay. He has brainwashed my Children to the extend where now they say they don’t want to come back to their grandparents place, and they want to stay there. when i spoke to my Kids, They are crying on the phone, and someone from behind is saying telling them ” Don’t speak to your mom, Just ignore her, If she calls again, just don’t speak to her”

    My parents are sick, and they find it difficult to talk to the father of my children. He did not even ask permission from me and he took them away from my parents home. When i spoke to him, he said your children don’t want you and they don’t want to go back home. He and his family have brainwashed my children and they are crying on the phone.

    I really need help in this situation. Please Advice me accordingly. I am working as a Domestic Helper in Overseas. i need to report this and get Custody For my Children.

    Reply
  9. MJ

    Dear Attorney,

    I am a single mother of 2 kids. For almost 7 years na pong walang support yung tatay ng mga anak ko. 7 years ago nagpunta kami ng mother ko sa barangay nila to ask for child support. Yet as per barangay’s advised sabi po ay kausapin muna yung side ng tatay nila. Nagpunta kami sa bahay ng lalake , nakausap namin yung nanay at yung lalake. Sabi nila wala pa raw maibibigay dahil wala pa raw trabaho yung lalake. After that day, wala na po kaming narinig mula sa side nila kahit anong paramdam wala po. Wala po talagang naging assistance. paano ko po maililipat sa surename ko ang mga anak ko. Naka affidavit po kasi sa kanya yung mga bata. Gusto ko po sana kung pwedeng ilipat sa pangalan ko ang mga anak ko. Sana po matulungan nyo po ako. Salamat po.

    Reply
  10. Queen

    Hi may I ask Atty. My live in partner want a custody to his iligetimate son from his ex gf. Now the girl is using his son to win my co-hab back.
    How can we have the custody of his son without being harrased by his ex.

    More power Thanks

    Reply
  11. Ellie

    Hello po atty. Annulled marriage po ako at naninirahan sa ibang bansa. May isa po akong anak 16 years old na po siya pero ang custody po nya ay nasa father po nya. Gusto lo ng anak ko na sumama na saakin sito sa ibang bansa kaya lang po ang problema eh yong custody, pwede po ba na ilipat ang custody saakin at ano po ba ang dapat na gawin para mailipat po ang custody saakin. Thank you po in advance!

    Reply
  12. Katwiran

    Dear Atty,

    Hello, I decided to adopt the baby of my sister at payag naman po siya, dahil may dalawa pa po siyang illegitimate child, but the problem po ayaw pumayag ng boy friend niya na ipa adopt yung baby, di po sila legally married and hiwalay na din yong guy sa unang asawa at may anak din sa pangalawa. My right po ba ung sister ko na ipa adopt sa amin yong baby kahit di pumayag ung boy friend niya? Hiwalay na din kasi sila pero ni recognize niya po yung baby sa birth certificate. Kung eh insist po ng lalaki yung gusto niya na kunin ang bata my right po ba siya? Thank you…

    help po…

    Reply
  13. Cathy

    Good day po!

    Ask ko Lang po! Kung my karapatan po ba ang kaibigan ko na makuha ang mga anak nya?
    Boy po ang friend ko at Kinuha ng ex partner nya sa Kanya ung anak nyang Babae! 2 po ang anak nila nasa nanay po ung isa Tpos po kniNa Kinuha nya na din ung isa pa sa Ama! Ngkahiwalay po sila dahil Sumama ung girl sa tomboy!

    Pls help us!

    Reply
  14. Melanie

    Good afternoon Atty,

    I would like to ask a question in regards to my husband issue. he has child in Philippines with his past relationship. he acknowledge the child and sign the birth certificate, we have no problem of giving a monthly support but the mother of a child is refused to do the DNA TEST. and keeping the child from his father. and say to just disappear. and now she’s telling to her friend that to file a abandonment case which she is the one refused to participate of what the father of a child request. and cut all the communication as well.

    Reply
  15. Marissa

    Hello!

    This is for a friend of mine in the Philippines (I’m not local) that’s desperately need help and solution for his situation.
    He has a 8 months son with his ex-girlfriend that is still living with him right now. She is still living with him and his family because she was kicked out from her own family and nobody wanted her back, and since the child was his, he accepted her in before she gave birth even though they broke up before that.
    The issue is, the mother of the child never takes care of the baby. She didn’t breast feed him ever since he was born. She is staying with him because of shelter benefit and uses the son as an anchor for her to stay at his house. He even quit his job because nobody will be able take care of the baby 24/7 as his parents are also busy with work, and the ex-girlfriend does not care much to be at home for the baby and carried on with her work for her own benefit.

    He and his family got tired of her attitude of staying in the house for free without helping them in any way. They are planning to kick her out from the house but there will be a high chance that she will sue them for the custody of the child & child support and they do not trust her that she is able to take care of the child as she barely spends time with her own son.

    How can he win against this kind of lawsuit?

    Thank you.

    Reply

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