We asked Atty. Jose Gabriel Benedicto, our family law expert from Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & de los Angeles Law Firm, to explain what a single mom’s rights are when it comes to child custody and support. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions that will shed light on what a single mom can expect from the law when it comes to child custody.
Please note that should anyone pursue a case pertaining to child custody and/or support, they are advised to seeklegal counsel. This article is meant to be generally informative and not a specific treatment of a case.
1. What are the specific laws that cover child custody for single moms in the Philippines?
If a child is born out of wedlock, the child is considered as illegitimateunder the parental authority of the mother. You will find this in Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines. Child custody is one of the consequencesof parental authority. Parental authority includesthe right and duty of a parent to bring up a minor (below 18 years old). This authority cannot be renounced or transferred except in cases allowed by law (Article 210 of the Family Code).
Apart from the Family Code, a single mother may also read up on RA 8972, “The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000”) to find out her benefits as a single mom under Philippine law.
2. Are minors (or children under 18 years old) automatically under the custody of a mother? At what age can a child choose to live with either parent?
It depends. In the case of married couples, the father and the mother jointly exerciseparental authority (and therefore, joint custody) of a child. However, in case of disagreement between the spouses, the father’s decision shall prevail unless there is a judicial order to the contrary (Art. 211, Family Code).
If the marriage is terminated by an annulment or declaration of nullity decree, there is a presumption in the Family Code as stated in Article 102 (6) and Article 129 (9) that any child below 7 years old is deemed to choose the mother, unless the court decides otherwise. In all cases, the court shall take into consideration the best interests of the child in making its decision.
For single mothers, they have sole parental authority over their child. The father of the child cannot be deprived of his parental rights to have access to the child in case he desires this. This can include temporary custody over the child.
Click here to learn more about answers to Child Custody FAQs.