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.

281 thoughts on “Basic issues in child custody

  1. Vhelle

    I adopt my niece baby (4months) last February because she couldn’t raise her. Even at first I don’t want to because I’m single but she said she will look for someone to adopt her baby if I don’t agree. Because of that, I took her in my care. We had a written and signed document along with our witness that she is surrendering her daughter to me as I am going to be the mother of her child. I even ask her to think about it and stayed at my home for 2 weeks with her whole family. The reason I agreed to adoption because of the things she did back while she just gave birth and tried to cover her baby’s mouth and nose (basically trying to kill her) and there’s a point in time where she can only feed her baby water and sugar. Also, she bathes her on the drum full of water. I am worried for her welfare so I decided to adopt her (not legal adoption).

    I care and give everything for that baby for seven months I also allowed them to visit her. Though times that they wanted to come here at my home but it seems that the real mom doesn’t give a damn of her baby. Then they told me that the sister of the father of the child wants to adopt the baby as well. Then her story rumbles and she wants now to at least to give her 1 day to spend time with the baby and take her all the way from Bulacan. That’s the time I said that I won’t allow it since I am already the mother of her child. That she is not some kind of a dog or a thing to be borrowed.

    Then after a month DSWD came to our home and gave me a letter to appear for the custody. I explain to them in tondo dswd about what happened, how it all began. Then the dswd told me that I do not have the right to claim her baby. But, she will still remain in my care and they will investigate first for 3 months if the mother is capable to taking good care of the baby. If she can support her every day needs. In the mean time, she has to start supplying her milk and diapers.

    That was tuesday but just a 2 days after they came again and she already got the letter from DSWD San jose del monte bulacan granting her to take the baby. That she is capable.

    How can she be capable that easy if she couldn’t even support herself? That she is studying and also working as a sales lady. How come they granted her shouldn’t they look if she is capable psychologically and mentally as well? Is it possible because they should have called me in there to know my side of the story before they grant her?

    I really do need your advice. I am worried about the baby. She is starting to get sick.

  2. senen

    Magandang Araw po sa inyo Atty.,

    Ako ay may problema regarding sa costudy ng mga anak ko. dalawang lalake isang 7 years old at 4 years old. nakatira po ako sa san jose delmonte bulacan. nagtatrabaho po ako bilang isang graphic artist dito sa manila. umuuwi lang po ako sa bulacan every weekend kasi po medyo maliit po ang sweldo ko at medyo malaki ang nagagastos ko sa pamasahe pag uwian po ako sa amin. nasa P4,600.00 pesos po ang naiiuwi ko sa amin kada lingo. ang mga anak ko po ay nag aaral sa La conception college sa bulacan. isang grade 2 at kinder 1. ganito po gusto ko po malaman kong ano po ang gagawin ko kasi po ang ina ng dalawang anak ko po na ito ay nag demanda ang gusto po nya ay maibigay ko ang gusto nya na kahit hindi ko po kaya. nag sama po kami ng 9 na taon sa 9 na taon na po yun ay hindi maganda ang pag sasama namin. nan doon po na ilang besis ko po sya na huli na may ibang lalake na tinatagpo, nahuli ko po yon sa email nya mga pictures po na naka hubad at video na nakikipag cybersex sya. mga picture na nakahubad sya na pinapadala nya sa mga ka chat nya. nakuha ko po ang attention nya tungkol doon ang sabi nya sa akin hindi nya raw kasalan kong bakit sya nag kaka gayan kasalanan ko daw kasi niloko ko sya pinangakuan na papakasalan. nung mag ka kilala kami kasal po sya may asawa sya hiwalay po sila wala syang anak doon sa asawa nya. may intensyon naman po akong pakasalan sya kaso nga nong makita ko ang mga emails at chat nya hindi ko na po itinuloy ang plano ko. at ayon ang isa sa mga problema ko. nag usap na kami na pag ginawa pa nya ulit makikipag hiwalay na ako sa kanya.. ayon po naulit ulit kaya nag disisyon na ako nahiwalayan sya. ngayon nag demanda sya kasi ang sabi nya na meron pa den daw po akong responsibilidad sa kanya kasi sya dw ang ina ng dalawa kong anak. hindi ko po sure na kailangan po ba meron? o sa mga anak ko lang po?. saka ang sabi nya sa akin noon na wala daw po akong pakialam kong ano man ang gawin nysa kasi hindi naman daw po kami kasal? tama po ba yon? meron po akong mga proof na magpapatunay sa mga na kuha ko sa email nya? magagamit ko po ba yon pag nag harap harap kami sa korte.? sa november 3 po kami mag haharap harap. ang dalawa kong anak po ay nakatira sa bulacan sa bahay namin. ako po lahat ang nag babayad. wala pong trabaho ang ina nila. ako den po ang nag babayad ng katulong at tutoor ng dalawa kong anak. at saka nga pala po nan doon den ang anak kong 17 years old sa bahay namin sa bulacan doon den nag aaral sa La Concepcion college. ako den po ang nag paparal sa kanya. lahat po binabayaran ko pagkain koryente bahay tubig katulong tutor service sa school baon ng mga bata pagkain sa madaling salita full support po ako sa mga anak ko. ang ina nila dating nag work sa call center kaso po hindi tumatagal ng 6 buan humihinto po. sa bahay naman po sya walang ginagawa kondi ang mag hawak ng cellphone buong araw hagngang madaling araw. ang katulong po ang nag aasikaso sa dalawang maliit hatid at sundo sa school. at saka minsan ang anak kong 17 years old na lalake. ang binabayaran ko po sa katulong ay P4,000.00 at sa tutor po ay P1,000.00 buwan buwan. wala po akong reklamo sa mga suporta ko sa mga anak ko. ang ina nila po ngayon ay walang trabaho na sa bahay lang. minsan umaalis hindi ko po alam kong ano ginagawa nya pag umaalis sya. ano po ba ang dapat kong gawin para pag dating namin sa korte ay maipahayg ko ng mabuti ang lahat at isa lang naman ang gusto kong mangyari makasama ko ang dalawa kong anak kahit weekend lang. at kailangan ko po bang ibigay ang hinihingi ng ina nila na hindi ko naman po kaya? hangang saan lang po ba ang kailangan kong ibagay para sa mga anka ko? responsibilidad ko pa po ba ang ina nila kailangan ko po ba na bigyan sya ng sustento? kahit hindi kami kasal, kahit may nag aalaga na sa mga anak ko po? saan po ba dapat ako lulogar? ano po dapat ang gagawin ko?

    maraming salamat po Atty.

    best regards
    senen baterna

  3. Ruth Ann

    Hi, Atty. gusto ko lang po if may laban ba sa husgado kung yung tatay ay wal sa birth certificate? pde bang mkuha ng tatay yung bata if ever mag pa affidavid na mailagay yung tatay as father in birth certificate? If okay n po na legal na ung father as a parent ng bata pde po b sya umapila ng child custody ? 6 years old n po yung bat? nkatira sa nanay ever since kse my knasamang ibang lalaki yung nanay and may anak n po yung nanay sa ibng lalaki. panu po kaya makukuha ung custody ng bata? if mg file po ba yung tatay ng case for the custody my laban po ba sya? please advice naman po.. Thanks po..

  4. gary

    Good evening po Atty.!…
    May anak po akong babae na ngayon ay 7 yrs old na ngayon. May kinakasama nang iba at nag kaanak pa sila.,, kasal po kami sa simbahan nag kahiwalay kami nung 2012,,. Gusto ko po sana na makuha ng legal process ang custody sa bata. Ang plano ko po sana na mag file ng adultury sa kanila para makuha ko ang anak ko ngunit naaawa ako sa anak nila.. May iba pa po bang paraan pra makuha ko ang anak ng legal process…
    Salamat po!…

  5. Ling

    Hello Atty,

    My sister passed away September of last year. She have two kids 4 and 2 years old. The kids is now in the costudy of their grandparents in father side. He (the father of my neice) is now working in one of those well-knowed company in our country, getting a salary of just a minimum (less than 500Php/day). I know that even if your salary is more than Php 500 it is still not suffecient enough to have fair living . Specilly when you are renting a room and own no car. If i can prove to the court that i am more capable and financially ready. Now i want to ask you if their is any posibility to have the costudy of my neice having that situation.



  6. Jane

    Hello po mr. Atty. I just wanna ask…May asawa po ako pero hindi kami kasal .Live in lang kumbaga.Ngayon may iba syang babae at manganganak na this december.Yung mga anak ko nasa nanay nya sa province kasi nandito ako sa manila nag wowork nagpapadala lang ako ng pera linggo linggo.Ngayon uuwi sana ako sa provincia ko sa Surigao at nais kong dalhin ung mga anak ko pero ayaw ibigay ng ama nila.Nais raw nya dalhin sa bago nyang kinakasama. Hindi kopo alam kung may laban ba ako pag sakaling ilayo niya ung mga anak ko eh hindi nmn sya nagpapadala ng sahod nya nitong huli…Salamat po if ma advice nyo ung dapat kong gawin.

  7. Cedric

    Atty, i have an issue sa custody. I have a daugther and her mother and i are not married.
    Now i want to get the kid to get her to a good school or take her here in Singapore where the education is supreme in Asia. In fact no.1 na education system dito. No matter how inexplain it to the mother she dont wanna hear it. I always hitvthe wall at ang katwiran nya sa lugar namin mag aral ang bata blocking all possibility for the kids future.
    I wanted to file a case not to actually take the cuatodybof the kid ut just to get her to study outside our sleepy place.
    Is there any avenue in phil law i can explore to force her into submission?
    I need your in depth advice on this and if you may, kindly give me your number or other contacts(email perhaps) so we can discuss this at length.

  8. Lyn

    goodmorning po…meron po kasi akong pamangkin na anak ng cousin ko.yung cousin ko po minor so nanganak xa sa amin.pero pag alis nya sabi nya iniwan nya ang bata.ngayun po sabi ng isang ante ko aampunin nya kasi wala xa anak.imbes na kegal adoption paper inerehistro po ang bata na ang nanay na nanganak ay ang anye ko.ngayun po ng abrod yung ante ko.ako po nag alaga sa bata until 2yrs old.then nag abroad din ako.ang bata inalagaan ng mama ko.anu po gagawin ko kung sa tingin ko wala naman na talagang interes ang nag ampon sa bata.nais ko po sana gawing legal ang pag adopt at ako na ang parent ng bata.

  9. kaila

    my brother wants to get custody of his 2 years old daughter. his live-in partner lives in the province with the child and always leaves the child with the care of her mother who too old to care of my niece, whenever she wants to leave the province and go to manila. most of the times, napapabayaan na po yung bata. his live-in partner already abandoned her first born with another man and now in the care of her previous live-in partner. pumapayat yung bata, may mga sugat sa kung saan saan bahagi ng katawan.
    nakuha ng brother ko yung anak nya at pina check-up, mostly virus and caused ng mga sugat na pabayaan kaya kumalat.
    may chance po kaya na makuha na ng brother ko anak nya and just to stay with him. willing po kameng kumuha ng lawyer for this concern. thanks.

  10. Camille

    Hi Attorney,

    Just want to ask for some advise. I am married and I found out that my husband has a mistress and left our house with our 1 year old son. I allowed him to borrow our son once a week since he’s still the father provided that he will not bring my son to his mistress. But then a friend told me that they see posts in social media showing that my husband and my son is together with the mistress in a resort. My husband is not telling me the truth of my son’s whereabouts when he borrowed it. So knowing that I told my husband that I will no longer allow him to borrow my son. And now that he no longer borrow’s my son, he also stopped his financial to us every month.

    Can I still demand for his financial support to me and my son even if I no longer allow him to borrow my son, even if I have reasons to do so? Are my reasons valid for not allowing him to borrow my son?

    Hoping for your advise on this matter.

    Thank you,

  11. chin

    Good Day!
    Gusto ko lang po ikonsunlta itong problema ko.
    May dalawa po akong anak at sila ay nasa pangangalaga ng kanilang ama kasama ang Lolo at Lola nila.
    Ito po ay sa kadahilanan na mayroon kaming problema ng ama ng aking mga anak kaya kami ay pansamantalang naghiwalay.
    Nagkaroon kami ng kasunduan na hihiramin koang aking mga anak kapag bakante ako dahil ako po ay isa pang estudyante. Ang problema ko po ngayon ay ipinagbabawalan ako ng kanilang Lola na sila ay bisitahin.Ano po ang magagawa ko?

  12. Jeffrey

    Hi im jeffrey kasi po young lola ng anak ko gustong makuha sa akin pero nag usap na po kmi ng ina ng aking anak na sa akin muna ang anak namin ngaun medyo nag away po kami ng ina ng aking anak ngayon po gusto ng lola ng anak ko ay sakanya dw po ang anak namin. Pero sa istado ng kanyang buhay ay hnd maganda… Ang tanong ko po kung my karapatan ba ang lola na makuha ang anak ko

  13. Marissa

    Good day Atty,
    I have a 2 years old son his carrying the father’s surname. But were not married. Hiwalay sya s asawa bgo naging kame. At bgo sya nagpakasal sa ex wife nya,may anak sya sa iba,at kasama nya ngayon.I’m working as a ofw now and its just 3 months from now.Habang kame nagka affair p sya sa iba at may anak na mas bata sa anak ko ng 1 year.Hinayaan ko LNG po sya kc sabi nya ako nmn DW ang asawa nya,hayaan LNG DW nya yun. Now, im working as a ofw 3 months from now.Pero 1 month ago, nagtalo kame for not telling me sa sitwasyon ng anak ko.He left the home (my parents home) and dinala nya yung anak ko.
    Now, he is living with that girl. Their 1 year old daughter and his oldest daughter with his father and grandmother. Wala xang trabho ngaun,pa extra extra LNG,namamasada minsan.manginginom po xa at babaero. Nakulong din po sya ng kapapanganak ko plng dahil s illegal position of firearms.At nag aalala po ako kung anong behaviour magkaroon anak ko kung sya any kasama.
    Anu po any dapat Kong gawin PRA makuha ko ang anak ko ng legal.ayaw nya kasing ipahiram ung bata sa amin. Parehas kame ng bayan,magkaibang brgy LNG.
    Hoping to have a good and immediate response regarding my problem,
    To god be the glory.

    Best Regards,

  14. joy

    magandng arw po atty..
    meron po kc aqng dlwng ank nsa dti q png klive-in knukha q n po pro ayw n png ibgy ng nany nya skn,dhln po nla pnbyaan q dw po
    kht po ang dhln ay iniwn q pra mgtrbho
    dhl hnd nmn po aq bningyn ng pera o pnggsts man lng at bukod po don ung ngssma pa ho kme ay nmbabae pa ho sya at my nbuntis pa ho syang ibang babae nung ngssma pa ho kme,pero ang gsto q lng ho tlga ay ang mkugg ang mga ank q.

    sna po ay mtulungn nyo po aq

  15. Lady vien

    Hello atty..this is lady vien fernandez a single mother was pregnated with the same of my age 20 years old..we didnt finish our studies and wanted to ask from your legal rights advise?? What are my rights and legal actions regarding with my baby have no work..cant afford to feed and provide my baby daily needs..i am abandoned with his father and dont get any form of financial support..i leave this in your good hands…


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