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.

538 thoughts on “Basic issues in child custody

  1. Elina

    Atty nanalo po ako sa ibang bansa sa habeas corpus ng mga anak ko against vawc at child custody. After 6 months nkipgreconcile po ang asawa ko(filipino)
    sa buong family at relatives k po na hindi na mauulit ang pananakit nya sakin. Sa makatuwid pinatawad po namin siya at tinanggap ulit nmin sya pero Hindi aq pumayag na ipa annul yung habeas corpus . I entrusted my 3 kids ages 8,7 & 5 sa lolo at lola ng mga bata. After a couple of months ngumpisa nnmn po mging violente ang asawa ko nging threat npo skin ang pamilya nya na ipapapatay ako sa 5k na halaga kng kukunin ko mga anak ko. Ngayon ngkarescue po kmi last April 13 lng. Hindi nila binigay ang mga bata wala n daw po sa kanila Kaya ngsampa po ako ng kidnapping at vawc. Ng pass po ako ng mga medikolegal na binugbog ako pati na yung habeas corpus decision sa physcal. Ang sabi ng physcal possible Hindi nya ibigay ang mga anak ko. Galit pa po ung physcal. Ang sabi po ng counsel ko malaki chance na binayaran npo nila ang physcal. Kinausap po namin ang dswd at women’s desk na kakampi nmin na ganun ngyari. Never pa po dw ngyari ang ganyan kaso first time dw po sa physcal na mgdecide po ng ganyan. Child abuse po ang nirereklamo ng asawa ko na wala po silang ebidensha hanggang bibig lng po. Ano po dapat kong gawin? Npablack listed kna din po sila mganak sa ibang bansa. My sumusunod po skin na kahinahinalang lalaki kgbi na kinukuhanan po ako ng videos at pictures at ntatakot npo ako. Gusto kna pong mpakulong ang asawa at pamilya nya sa ginawa nila skin financially ako ang ngwork at ngpadala sa kanila po

  2. jasminecesa

    Hi po atty. Ask ko lang po naghiwalay po yung kuya ko po at ang ex live in partner niya po last year dahil nag cheat po yung girl sa kuya ko po tapos po pagkahiwalay na po nila ni kuya iniwan po niya ang pamangkin ko po sa kuya ko po para pumunta sa ibang bansa after 6 months bumalik po cya at sinabi niya po sa kuya ko po na ipapasyal niya po yung pamangkin ko po pero lumipas po ang ilang araw di niya po binalik ang pamangkin ko po dahil nasa probinsya daw po cla at ngayon po nag sabi cya kay kuya na di niyana po ibabalik yung pamangkin ko po dahil custody niya daw po.. pero iniwan niya po yung pamangkin ko po sa nanay niya. Po dahil aalis siya at pupunta sa ibang bansa… ganyan din po ang ginawa niya sa isa niya pong anak iniwan niya rin po sa nanay niya. Noong bata papo yung pamangkin ko po yung kuya ko na po yung nagpalaki kasi po party girl po kasi cya. Katonayan nga po yung kuya po ang nag alaga ng pamangkin noong bata pa po ito…

  3. Patrick

    Please att. , I am a belgian man living in Belgium, I have a son with my girlfriend were I have a relation with in the past, our son is now 3 years old and under my surename, but living in Guimaras with my ex-girlfriend.
    She don’t allow me to see the child even on webcam and use the child as a weapon against me, I want to support him but I need at least be possible to see him in real (once a year at least) and sometimes in webcam (skype) . I save money for him in my country even she don’t allow to support him in Guimaras, maybe the new boyfriend is jealous that I will see her too, she don’t work and she is an alcoholic too. What can I do…. Do I have the Philippine law with me to visit him or show him on webcam… or must I accept it with pain in my heart because I miss and love him so much…. Can you please help me with an answer,

    thanks in advance,
    Patrick Van Ostaeyen

  4. Nene

    Hello attorny,
    My son has lived-in partner and got 5 year old son. After six years we found out that the girl was married to her first boyfriend before she met my son. The problem is this certain girl never talk to my son about her past. This time she is living with her husband. Please advice us how can my son get the full custody of my grandson.

    Thank you

  5. bea

    can i send an email s inyo para private ung tanong q..baka po kasi maka cause p ng sobrang problema kungbi post q ung question q dito..tnx po..sana po makuha q ang e mail i can send my question po.

  6. Ana Marie

    Good Day Po Atty.

    Hihingi sana ako ng advise regarding po sa application for Sole Custody Certificate ng anak ko. I was married for 5 years and got separated from my husband without a child and after two years without communication from my husband, i had been into a serious relationship and was blessed with a daughter. Mayroon napo kaming plan ng current partner ko at that time na i process yung annulment ko with my husband.However, 4 months po before sa schedule ng pangagnganak ko I found out na may ibang girl friend yung current partner ko and I decided na tapusin yung relationship ko sa kanya. Subsequently, hindi ko dn pina specify yung father’s name sa Birth Certificate ng anak ko.

    OFW po ako and Im currently residing in Dubai, Im planning to get my daughter on mother’s visa po and one of the requirement is to acquire the Sole Custody Certificate from DSWD, since andito po ako, I need your advise kung pano ko po i pa process yung certificate from here. Hope matulungan nyo po ako.

    Ana Marie

  7. Fatima

    Good day po Atty.
    Please help me,I have 2 daughter eldest is 7 yrs.old and the youngest 5 yrs.old.But I’m not married with my ex lived in partner,and my daughter’s used username of my ex-LIP.Now,He said he will get my 2 daughter if I wont agree to get back my relationship to him..
    I need your advice,please!!!
    Thank you!!

  8. Lisa

    Can i file a custody case against the mother of my nephews? The mother dont have work so as her parents. And it seems that she cant take good care of them because we always see the kids playing beside the street without their mother. And if ever were going to get so that we can spend time with them the mother will not allow them. My brother who happend to be the father of the kids passed away. The eldest is 7 years old second is 4 years old and the youngest is 1. Since birth of the kids were the one helping my brother support them financially not just financially but also help them taking good care of the kids.

  9. Fatima

    hello atty,
    i ask ko lang po about s pamangkin ko, anak po ng bunso nmin kapatid. Sinasaktan nya po ung anak nia at balak ko po sanang kunin sa knya ang bata at pa dswd para mawalan n po sya ng karapatan s bata, kasi sobra po ginagawa s bata ee. Dto po ako nkatira sa ibang bansa ang tanong ko lang po gaano katagal iprocess yung pagiging legal guardian ko na kahit umalis kami ng pilipinas is wala na karapatan ang nanay nia at ano po ba mga kailangan ko gawin/steps for legal custody.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Atty.Fred Post author

      Hi! The article provides enough general information to start with your search for answers. Unfortunately, we cannot give any legal advice in this Forum.

  10. Jean velano

    Tanong ko lang po kung saan po ba pede mapunta ang mga pamangkin ko? Nasa abroad po both parents nya, hiwalay na po sila kasi nag ka 3rd party ung babae, kapatid ko po ung lalaki. Ngaun po humihingi ng sustento ung girl pero nasa abroad po sya, nasa pangangalaga po ng nanay nya ang mga pamangkin ko. Nasa pangangalaga po dati ng magulang ko ung mga bata nuon,malilinis, malulusog at nag aaral, pero nung umuwi at nag bakasyon ung nanay nila,sinabi po na hihiramin lang ng ilang lingo para makasama,pinag paalam po sa skul nila. Pero nung araw na po na sabi na ibabalik pamangkin ko hndi na po nya binalik. Bumalik na po sa ibang bansa ung girl, iniwan nya po ang mga pamangkin ko sa nanay nya en sa kapatid nya na abnormal, ngaun po napakadungis at pumayat na mga pamangkin ko, hndi po maxado naalagaan ng lola nila, kasi may mga apo padin sya sa isang anak nya na inaalagan dahil hiwalay din ito sa asawa. Gusto po sana hiramin ng mader ko ung apo nya dun at papakainin lang sana,sabik na nag paalam mga bata sa lola nila, kaso hndi na po bumalik mga pamangkin ko, umiiyak na po sila sa haus nila at hndi daw po sila pinayagan ng nany nila.
    Tanong ko lang po pwede po ba mag file ang parents ko para sa costudy ng mga apo nya…

    1. Atty.Fred Post author

      Hello. Please read the article again. You might have missed the portions that might help you. Please remember, however, that no legal advice is given in this Forum.

  11. Van

    Hi Atty,
    I have problem with my brother in law the husband of my sister just passed away 5 months ago. Since my sister died his behavior was changed alot. My sister 3 siblings lived with him but the reason I am here to your blog is because my brother in law won’t let us see the kids. And even if he always passing by my parents house , he never think to stopped by just to say HI. So we dont know what is going on.

    Can we get my sister siblings and stay with us even the father still alive? I don’t know how to process step by step. Also they married twices at the civil and church.. or just ignore him and just wait if he brings the kids at my parents house.

    Please give us an advice??
    Thank you


    1. Atty.Fred Post author

      Hi Van, no legal advice is dispensed in this forum. By way of general information, however, I think the article is clear on the general rule and the possible exceptions. Whether there are enough facts to justify the removal of custody is a matter that should be discussed with your lawyer. In our experience, we usually suggest a dialogue among the parties concerned because any legal move is sometimes counter-productive, and should be taken only as a last resort. It’s all about the best interest of the children.

  12. George

    I am considering starting a relationship with a Filipina who has a 2-year-old child. I would be fine with supporting a child, but would not want to legally adopt, because I would not want to be “on the hook” for many years of child support for a child that isn’t even mine, if she decided to divorce me later. I’ve been searching for info but can’t seem to find any for this specifically. Should I say, in so many words, “Sorry, I can’t even start this, because of the risk to me financially.” Or are my fears unfounded? Thanks for your help.

  13. Mary

    Good day ! Atty. Do we have a right to claim a custody to my Sister’s daughter’s custody even if she is 10 months? Because this case for my sister is her ex-husband wanted to claim the child Kahit po 10 months palang ang niece ko may karapatan po bang Kunin ng ex-husband ng sister ko ang Anak niya? Kasi po gagawa po ng kalokohan ang ex-husband ng sister ko para lang po makuha niya ang bata.. Ano po ba ang dapat gawin ng kapatid ko. I am waiting for your advice. Thank you.

  14. Kwin

    Hello poh.. asl lng pos sa custody nang anak ko single poh ako 26 yrs old I have 4 yrs old son.. Wala poh akong work gusto nang tatay nang anak ko kunin nya kasi daw sya yung my trabaho ako poh wala.. parents and sibling sumusuporta sakin finance sa anak ko.. nag aaral yung anak ko d nya po sinisuntentohan yung anak namin kung na sakin custody nang bata. Ang gusto nya Lang dun lng sa kanila.. panu po yan my right din ba sya kunin sakin kahit 4yrs palang?

  15. Febzzzzz

    Hi po atty.
    May anak po ako turning 4 na po sya sa may, simula po nong ipinagbuntis ko sya hanggang sa naipanganak ko sya walang support galing sa tatay nya, kaya ginawa ko iniwan ko po sya sa tatay nya para maalagaan sya at para maka pag trabaho po ako . Ngayon gusto ko na po syang kunin sa tatay nya ngayon nalaman ko po na wala sa kanila Yong anak ko pinaalagaan nya po sa ibang tao.. ask ko po paano po namin makukuha Yong bata, binantaan po ako na hindi ko daw makukuha Yong anak ko sa kanila..


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