Paul and Becca’s relationship has always been shaky. Even while they were dating, they would have episodes of verbal and physical abuse, mostly inflicted by her to him than the opposite. They parted ways before graduating from college only to reunite a few years later when Becca’s mother passed away and she needed someone to lean on. Paul offered friendship but Becca wanted more. Paul obliged and the rest is history.
Shortly into their first year of getting back together, Becca gave birth to their daughter, Kathy. Paul had big plans for his young family and worked harder in the small restaurant business that he put up after college.
So he was really surprised when Becca announced that she is leaving him and will be moving back in with her siblings. At first, she took their baby with her and would not let Paul see her unless he has groceries and other supplies for their child. Later on, Becca would let Paul borrow Kathy during weekends and on trips to Paul’s side of the family. One unexpected day, Becca’s sister brought Kathy to Paul’s condominium, complete with the child’s clothes and other belongings. She said that Becca ran off with a guy she met at work and they do not know where she is. And that Paul needs to take in Kathy now that her mother is nowhere to be found.
Kathy grew up under her father’s care. Paul provided handsomely for his only child; now that Kathy is eight years old, he wants to take her to Hong Kong Disneyland and see Queen Elsa in person. Kathy is ecstatic and could not wait for summer vacation so she and Daddy can finally fly out.
There is one catch though.
Since Kathy is an illegitimate child, Paul needs to secure a Parental Travel Permit from Becca so he can be allowed to take Kathy out of the country for their vacation. But Becca is nowhere to be found. From the day Kathy was brought to Paul’s condominium almost eight years ago, they have not heard from Becca anymore. They went to Becca’s parents’ hometowns, to her friends and colleagues; Kathy even spent one whole summer vacation at Becca’s sister’s house in Laguna hoping that Becca would drop by, call, or send a letter or email. They searched through the internet and in every available social media channel where she may be maintaining an account. But all their efforts were futile.
No one knows where she is or if she is still alive. She has literally abandoned, not just her daughter and her family, but her entire life. She literally disappeared without a trace.
Paul is faced with a dilemma. How does he take Kathy to Disneyland without that Parental Travel Permit?
Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines states that the biological mother is vested with the sole parental right over her illegitimate child (or children). This is the reason why biological fathers need to seek the mother’s permission to take their children on out-of-town trips. But what if the mother has gone missing like in the case of Becca?
The fact that custody rights are given to mothers says a lot about the woman’s unique ability to nurture children and families. However, there are also cases when the mother is seen to be unfit to care for her kids. There are those who choose not to be responsible for raising their children and therefore, give up their custody rights to the biological father of their children (or any other family member, friends, or complete strangers as in the case of adoption) while others are compelled to give up their right because of personal circumstances that affect their abilities to mother their children. In such cases, the custody is given to the biological father – but not without a proper court order to support the transfer of custody rights.
That is exactly what Paul worked on in order to take his daughter to their dream vacation. He sought the services of a lawyer friend and together, they studied his situation and how they can be given a court order stating that Paul now has the sole custody over Kathy.
Fortunately for Paul, Becca’s siblings threw in their support for Kathy’s sake. They testified that their sister has not had any communication with them or with Kathy for almost eight years now. They heard somewhere that she has migrated to the U.S. but they have yet to confirm this news. They also confirmed that it was Paul who has been providing for Kathy’s education, shelter, and other basic needs ever since she was born.
Once Paul is granted that court order, he and Kathy can begin exploring the world. Both of them are hopeful that Paul’s petition would return positive results. If Paul is granted the custody, they would not even need a DSWD Travel Clearance if he and Kathy are traveling together.
For more information on Travel Clearance and Parental Travel Permits, please visit the DSWD website at www.dswd.gov.ph