Child custody is a delicate issue especially among unmarried couples. Almost always, it is the mother who takes custody of her children especially if they are still minors. Today’s blog endeavors to answer some frequently asked questions about child custody, especially for single parents.
All the facts stated in this blog are based on the Family Code of the Philippines that you can access by clicking this link: Family Code of the Philippines.
Who has custody of the child if the parents are not married?
The Family Code of the Philippines states that an illegitimate minor child (one born out of wedlock) must be in the custody of the mother.
In the same manner, the child’s father must also be allowed his parental rights to the child and this may be defined by both parties through verbal agreement or documented in the presence of a lawyer. The father must not be deprived his right to visit and spend time with the child if he so desires.
Who has custody of the child if the parents are married but separated?
If the parents are married, both the mother and father of the child have joint custody and parental authority. Should the parents disagree on any matter concerning the child’s welfare, needs, and upbringing, the father’s decision shall prevail.
If the parents are separated by annulment, custody of their children aged 7 years old and below is given to the mother, unless the court decides otherwise. Children who are above 7 years old already have the right to choose and state their preference — whether they want to stay with the mother or their father. This is considered in court but not entirely bound by it; meaning, the court will still see if the chosen parent is fit to take care of the child. The child’s wishes may be superseded by the court as they see fit.
Who gets custody of the child if the single mother dies?
Philippine laws dictate that the surviving maternal grandparent/s automatically gets custody of the child should anything untoward happen to the single mother. If the grandparents are unable to care for the child, custody may be granted to the deceased mother’s siblings.
Should the biological father of the child want to take custody of his son/daughter, he needs to prove his paternity (if he hasn’t yet — i.e. signed the child’s birth certificate, allowed the child to use his surname, etc.).
Is it possible for a mother to lose child custody?
Yes. If the mother is found guilty of abusing the child or is exposing the child to any of the following, her child may be taken away from her by the government:
- Immorality and unemployment
- Habitual drunkenness
- Drug addiction
- Maltreatment of the child
- Affliction with a communicable disease
If you need more information about child custody, you may download a copy of the Family Code and go over it with your spouse, parents, or child. Of course, seeking the help of a family lawyer is always the better and wiser option. Make sure to find a competent one.