Basic Issues in Child Custody in the Philippines

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. Some basic matters pertaining to child custody under Philippine laws are discussed below.

Basic Issues on Child Custody in the Philippines

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 with 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.

Is the court bound by such preference of a child below 7 years of age?

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.

[See also Child Custody of the Father and Mother, Visitation Rights in the Philippines]


549 thoughts on “Basic Issues in Child Custody in the Philippines

  1. Avatarqgracie14

    Hi, please give me insight about my situation. I am married for 4 years now, living with my in-law (his mom). Every time my husband and I have disagreements, he would tell me to leave the house, telling me that I’m just a sampid, border lang sa bahay nila. The reason that I stay is because he wants the custody of our 3 year old. Ayaw ko nalang sana ng skandalo, I just want to bring our child with me. I know my rights as a mother but knowing my husband, we will just be doing tug-of-war over our daughter. I want to go back to my parents house which is only blocks away from where we live now and I’m afraid of the scandal it might create. Please tell me what initial steps I must do if the situation gets out of hand. Should I go to the baranggay, police or dswd. I want to do this in a civil way. Please help me. Thanks!

  2. Avatareci

    I just want to know what are the proceedings for me too have custody of my 2 year old child. My husband is an Indian but we got married in the Philippines. Now I want our marriage annulled and take custody of my child, but we are currently in Saudi Araia. Please help me…Thanks…

  3. Avatarloveskee

    i need help… i have a minor 16 year old daughter who gave birth october 4,2008.. the father of her son is 18 years old and did sign the acknowledgment on the birth follows his last name…… now he is demanding to have my grandson ……said that he can take him because its after his last name..he even tell their common friends of his plans…my daughter and grandson lives with me and the guy with his mother and from time to time he comes to give some milk and diapers…. they are not married…… there a way for me to have my grandson after our last name…….. or does he have the right to take away my grandson….is there any actions i can take regarding this..please help…thank you.

  4. Avatarja_carag

    How long does a custody case normally last and how much would be the projected cost of one? If the info about cost is confidential, please email me at or I can send you my contact numbers.

  5. Avatarmariacruz_1027

    Hello Atty,

    I have 4yrs old son carrying my last bf’s surname
    It’s been 3yrs now that I don’t know where is the guy
    Never had financial support ever

    Just this year I got married with a guy that wanted to take us to Canada
    My question is can I get full custody for my child from the court
    withour consent of his father?

    Thank you and I am looking forward for yur response

    Best Regards,

    1. AvatarJema

      Hello good day po Atty.
      Ang tanung ko po ay, pwede po ba ako makakuha ng full costudy sa mga anak ko 5 po cla, hindi po ako kasal sa tatay nila at ngayon po ay nasa abroad ako ang lima ko pong anak ay nsa pangangalaga ng nanay ko at balak ko po na kunin na cla at dito na manirahan sa ibang bansa. Thank you po and have a nice day.

    2. AvatarJulie

      Gud am pm atty. Tanung ko lng po once po ba na ngfile ako ng custody of minor child at nagrant sa akin ang award sa 5 years old ko na anak. Applicable prin po ba ung custody ko sa knya khit 7 years old na sya? Kse sabi ng tatay ng anak ko mamimili na ung bata kung san nya gusto sumama. Hiwalay kmi pero kasal at base sa agreement nmin hihiramin lng nya ung bata pero ayaw nnman nya ibalik sa akin.

    3. AvatarZen

      Hello Atty,

      I was legally married and have 3 children. My 13 years old choose to live with his father. My problem is how can I take back my 13 years old son. He is not well taken care of his father, he is out of school, only stays/sleep in his father’s house 2 for 2 nights and the rest of the days and night is spent to a family that his father supported. My son is lavishly provided of money more than he can manage at his age, he is allowed by his father to drive car and single motorcycle in the city or anywhere without license since he is a minor. I am so worried of my son. Atty I am married to an American.

      Please help me

    4. AvatarAna

      Magandang hapon po Atty.
      May kapatid po ako na babae ..hiwalay po sila ng kinakasama nya..may anak po sila..gusto ko po sana matulongan ang kapatid ko ngayon po ay meron na siya bago kinakasama gusto makuha ang kanyang anak na nasa ina ng kanyang kinakasama dati ayaw po nila ibigay ano po ba ang pwede namaing gawin..ayaw nila ibigay ayaw daw po ng bata.,ang bata po ay edad 9 na taon., tapos sinisiraan po nila ang kapatid ko sa bata kaya ayaw po sumama..

  6. AvatarCharie

    I adopted a baby (Note: adoption paper still on going). The baby was abandoned in the hospital w/c was t-over to DSWD, then DSWD gave it to me. my problem now is, after 9 mos of custody, DSWD informed me that the mother appreared and that she want to get the baby. But since the mother is not capable(Unemployed), her relatives want to get the baby for her. Is ders a law protecting the rights of the adoptive parents? What are the other remedies?

    Thany you.

  7. Avatarmichaela

    My husband recently told me that 2 years ago he had an affair with a woman in the Philippines when he was visiting his dying mother. The woman had a baby, but my husband is not the biological father but my husband is named as the father on the baby’s birth certificate. The mother has abandoned the baby with my sister-in-law in Manila and we don’t know where she is and she said that the biological father disappeared when she was two months pregnant. What is the legal relationship between my husband and the baby under Filipino law?

  8. Avatarteena

    My boyfriend (the father of the child) and I broke up two months ago. For the whole time I was pregnant until I gave birth I was leaving with my x’s parent’s house. My family never helped me or gave any financial assistance. When I gave birth with my child all expenses were paid with his parents. I had c-section then and my child was premature. The bills reached 120k but I gave 20k. I was unemployed then since I stop working because of my condition. Now that we are already separated with the father of the child. They don’t want to give my son to me especially the mother of my x, since they paid a lot for the hospital bills. My question is can I get my son. With so many reasons. We are not married, the father of my son is still studying and I am working but on the birth certificate my son is bringing the last name of his father? Can I get my son? Cause they won’t give my child to me.

  9. Avatarsqeekywipers

    I’m studying law….San Carlos. Very simple advice.

    1. Do you have financial capability….to have your own safe place….food..shelter…water…medical…clothing….neccessities for you and hte child together ALONE?

    if no….you rely on others….YOU DON”T GET IT..sorry.

    2. Do you have any criminal background or recent history of it?

    Another lost case……

    3. Anyone has solid evidence you neglected the child before or said insults to it or tried to disenroll from the responsibility?

    If so ….and its true…..even a small thing….you lose

    4. Age takes precidence in these situations

    5. Education as well.

    6. Psychological Stability

    7. Benefits the child can inherit… funds….insurance….land…etc…

    8. Responsibility in your personal life.

    9. If you lived at MOMMY and Daddys….you better have a good reason you can support it alone with no help.

    10. Knowledge of how to take care of a child….not emotionally….medically.


    you have any of these attributes…..bad….and don’t turn your head and ignore it….your ignoring your own bullshit…and losing the case to win your child and be more responsible to raise it.

    Read this and think it over.

    I have all 1’s at San Carlos.

    so suck it.


    sorry for the bad spelling…im really tired and hungry from studying

    1. Avatarquenelyn

      sir i want a piece of advice u given to me im a ofw not married and have one child now the father of my child borrow my child to my mother bit he didnt get back again my child to my mother even a call or mesaages my mother didnt have info why father did not get back my daughter now i chat the father of my child to please him to get back my child in our house and then he when houre not here the child will stay at my cuatody coz u are far fr here ur working abroad thats why ill hide the child to your family because he is the father he tell me. Accusing me abandonment even he know why am here coz its for my childs future. I dont know what am i going to do coz am so far away…please help me email me

    2. AvatarCat

      …and you have such bad grammar too. What a shame for law students. I wonder if you’ve already become a lawyer; if so, good for you and bad for the rest of us.

  10. Avatarsqeekywipers

    also JLP LAW won’t email you or that…your all guinea pig study subjects for them… they can see trends and build better cases for their clients.

    don’t waste your time here.


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