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.

398 thoughts on “Basic issues in child custody

  1. leiyan

    good evening po atty from london.

    i am a single mother of two girls. hinde po kami kasal ng tatay nila. both po pinanganak dito london. pero ung eldest ko po 4 yrs old. and youngest mg 3. firstly he filed for a full custody of our youngest but he lost so. ngaun nmn gusto nia po kunin ung eldest namin sa mother ko sa pinas. ganito po kase yun inuwi ng ex ko ung eldest namin sa pinas dahil hinde naman sha tumutulong at hinde ako maka work. so ngdecide kami na iuwi so sya ang naguwi. tapos ngaun gusto nman niang kunin ung eldest namin. nagbabanta na idedemanda ung nanay ko ng kidnapping and stuff.. tanong ko po. pwede nia pong kunin ung anak namen without consent sa mommy ko?

    Reply
  2. Richard

    Dear Atty,

    Good day po! tanong ko lang po kung paano proseso… may isang ina na gustong kusa ibigay yung kanyang baby pagka panganak niya at willing naman ng kahit anong kasulatan. Puede po ba na ganito ang setup namin?

    Reply
  3. Sheilyn

    Hi good evening po, tanong kulang po, nasa pinsan kopo ang anak ko since 5months old po siya ngayon po 9 years old npo siya, pwede kupa po ba siyang makuha? Nakapangalan po sa kanila ang Anak ko. sana po mabigyan niyo ako ng kasagutan sa tanong ko. Nang maghiwalay po kame ng papa ang Anak ko iniwan kopo anak ko sa pinsan ko my asawa napo siya 5yrs na silang sasama at hindi nagkakaanak at sakanya kpo naisip ewan ang anak ko, iniwan siya ngayon atbukas binalikan kpo sabi kopo kukunin kuna po ang anak ko kasi po hindi ko kaya na malayo sa ko sabi kpo sakanila gagawin ko lahat ng paraan para buhayin kya lang po ayaw napo ibalik by the next day, kaya po uwe po ako ng hindi ko dala ang ko, at makalipas po isang buwan bigala nlang po namen nalaman na buntis asawa ng pinsan ko , sinusobukan kpo kunon anak ayaw parin nila ibalik, nag karoon po ako ng abgong asawa at anak at ng mga panahon nayon marame po ako naririnig tungkol sakanila kung pano nila itato ang ko, pero hindi po ako kumikibo hangang sa umaabot sa time na pag nagtatalo sila mag asawa iniiwan sa tira ko o sa pinsan ko anak ng asawa ng pinsan at aalis cla anak niya na tunay syempre po sobrang sakit sakit, at madalas aaway sila ipapatawag akoat sasabihin naibabalik sakina ang bata at sv ko cge kukunin kuna pag nagkaayos sila ayaw nanaman po ibalik sakin, ang sabi panga ng tatay mgpinsan kosakanya kung gaganyanin niyo lang din ang bataibalik niyo sa nanay niya yan, last month nag punta ako para hiramin ko anak ko, hindi ko inaasan pag kuha ko sa kanyamy sakit at ang dame pong sugat sa ulo nilalangaw napo bata tinanong kpo kung ilang lingo na sabi po sakin mama 1buwan npo eto nagulat po ako, kya posabi wagka muna pumasok 1week gamotin muna kita ksi hindi marin po siya nakaktlog dahin pangangamot at sakit, ang sv kpo sananayng bata ibabalik pag galing, mgayon po plano kpo ibalik ng sunday ng hapon pero sunday palang po ng pinamumura npo ako ngpinsan ko kasi daw po hindi kopa po binabalik ang bata sabi kpo pinagaling kulang kasinakakaawa na, tpos hinhiram kpo sana kahapon kasi po birthday kpo gusto kopo makaasama ang anak ko kya lang po hindi kuna daw po mahihiram ang bata. Sna po mabigyang sagot katanongan ko maraming slamt po

    Reply
  4. Ivy

    Atty: my question ako.
    I was an OFW when my son is below 7 yrs. old he was with the care of he’s father. But now he’s 11 and he’s dad is also away from him due to work. My son is with the care of my husbands mother and sister. I have been deprive my rights since i left my son to them which lead me to report it to dswd even to the police as my husband want dont want me to borrow my own son when i went for a vacation. The thing is can i still get my son even if he is now 11? Also do i really need to ask permission to my husband mother nor sister to borrow my own son? I feel like i been deprive by my rights to this. Also before they kind of brainwashed my son and now they are kind of asking my son to who he will choose with. He was just 11 yr. old.
    Im looking forward for your response.
    Hope you could help me
    thanks

    Reply
  5. Ruby

    Hi po attorney
    Need ko po talaga ng tulong nyo . sana po mareplayan nyo ako . Meron po kasi akong asawa seaman po sya at meron kaming dalawang anak isang 3 years old at isang 2 years old . naghiwalay po kami sa kadahilanang nanakit po sya at lagi na po kaming nag aaway . denimanda nya po ako na may kalaguyo daw akong iba pero pina cancel din naman nya po yung demanda . ngayun po nasa ibang bansa po sya nagtatrabaho bilang seaman . yung mga magulang nya na po ang nakakatanggap ng sahod nya . tanging gatas nalang po ang pinapadala ng mga magulang nya sa mga bata na nandidito po sakin . gatas nalang po talaga wala ng iba . may karapatan po ba akong magreklamo laban sa asawa ko gayung hindi na po sapat yong senosustento nila sa mga anak ko ??? Chaka anu po ang karapatan ng anak ko laban sa ama nila ??

    Sana po mareplayan nyo .

    Reply
  6. Katrina

    Hello, Here ismy case. I got married last 2008 when I was already 2 months pregnant. My marriage with my husband didn’t worked, so we separated last 2011. Our son is already 8 years old now and is under the custody of my husband. My husband took away my son from me because when we were separated, I had a relationship with another man and got me pregnant. Our annulment case is still on-going right now. I just want to ask if it happens that our annulment will be granted, can I get back the custody of my son? Thank you..

    Reply
  7. Eiram

    Ask lang po, how to obatin a judicial declaration of custody. Requirements lang po ng partner ko para makuha mga anak nya dito sa Canada since inabandona nman sila ng nanay nila wayback 2004.

    Reply
  8. Mark anthony

    Atty. Can i ask something?
    Ganto po kase iniwan ng nanay ang mga anak ko saken 3months ago na ngayon gusto nya kunin yung 2&10months old ko na anak may laban po ba ako sakaling idala namen sa korte? Btw. Sya po ang gumawa at sumama sa ibang lalake at ako naman yung mga bata lang na iniwan ang inaalagaan ko actually yung bunso 3months palang nung iniwan nya. Sana po natulungan nyo ako.

    Reply
  9. Genmarl11

    My mom got annulled last 2 years and my NSO’s legitimate father stated is the 1st husband of my mom but I am not biological child of her 1st husband. My mom told me the reason why she used the 1st husband’s surname due to the hospital’s not discharging them because of all the expenses so my Mom decided to used her 1st husband’s info for the sake of making sure they’ll pay all the expenses from her 1st husband’s benefits to cover all his maternity charges. So basically my mom wasn’t also expecting that the hospital will pass all the info for the NSO registration. So i was declared legitimate child of her 1st husband without knowing the right thing to do. So my Biological dad and my mom decided to have me a late registration to recognize the paternity of my biological dad. They were advised to have civil wedding just to have a recognition that he’s the biological dad, so when my mom filed a case for legitimization , the court didn’t grant the case due to void and null civil wedding because they were not annulled yet during the civil wedding happened. My mom already did a lot of strategies just to make sure i’ll be recognized as legitimate child of my biological dad. What steps should we do to make sure i have already a legitimate identity because i am using my biological dad’s surname the entire transactions i had from preschool til college though my surname on my NSO is my mom’s first husband. Thank you so much IF you can address this concern. May God Bless you. Have a good day!

    Reply
  10. DeeCee

    Good PM Atty. I just wanted to ask lang po, My ex-wife dont have work, Ako meron, I can compensate all the needs of my children. I can also say na mejo may kataasan ang salary ko. But sya, since walang work. there is no source of income but her parents, meron business. Kanino mapupunta ang mga anak ko? Is it sakin ba which is kaya ko pong masupportahan sila, or dun sa ex wife ko na walang work but aasa sa business ng kanyang magulang?

    Reply
  11. Mary Jane

    Good pm po, nagfile po ako ng annulment nagrant po ito . pero hindi ko pa po hawak ung decision sabi ng attorney iba pa po ang case para s custody ng anak ko para matapos annulment. paano po ba step non,matagal po ba at ibang bayad and case po ba iyon para sa custody?

    salamat po sa sagot in advance
    regards

    Reply
  12. Rosauro

    Hello…. I don’t know if you could help my niece with this matter….
    She just started working abroad and she is a single parent of a 2 year old boy…. she had to leave her son behind so she could give him a good future in the care of the baby’s grandmother and grandfather (which happens to be my brother and sister in law).
    Now the grandparents of the baby wants to travel to palawan and Boracay once 2018 rolls in, and they wanted to bring the baby with them… but they were told they cannot bring the baby because they are not the legal parents…
    What kind of legal paperwork can my niece get from where she’s at (she is in Dubai if I’m not mistaken)?
    And should it be a paperwork that came from the Philippine Embassy? Or just a regular letter made by a lawyer (in Dubai) and signed and sealed?
    What kind of paperwork do they usually look for in the Philippines to have the grandparents of the baby as the temporary caretaker (who’s mom is working outside the Philippines)?
    Please advise me on what they should do….. thank you and I will wait for your response.

    Reply

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