I bore twins from a relationship with a guy who is a U.S. citizen. I gave birth here in the Philippines. The father has been supporting us financially, and even got his kids U.S. citizenships, so they are now both U.S. passport holders.
As a Filipino mother, what legal right do I have over my U.S. citizen twins? Since the father and I are not married, do I have full custody over them? And, in the event that the father wants to take them to the U.S., can they travel without my consent? Please help!
A: Hi, Michelle!
Since you and the father of your twins are not married, you, as the mother, have full parental authority over them. You have the right to full custody over the children, and you also have the right to ask for financial support from the father for their needs. Moreover, custody over children below the age of seven automatically goes to the mother, because the law presumes that the mother is the best person to rear a child in his tender years.
I also want to clarify that your children, while indeed U.S. citizens because of their American father, are also Filipino citizens because of you. Thus, you can also get them Philippine passports, and they are entitled to stay in the Philippines with you as natural-born citizens.
As for the issue of your children traveling abroad, there are several things to consider: If your children are taken abroad by their father using their U.S. passports, then they can travel without your consent, because a child with a foreign passport does not need a DSWD clearance to leave the Philippines (whether traveling with a parent or not). And once your children go to the U.S. with their father, you might have a hard time getting them back.
However, if they leave the Philippines using their Philippine passports, and they are using your surname and not their father’s, then he will need to produce a birth certificate to prove that he is the children’s parent in order to be granted the permission to leave the country with them. Given your unusual situation, I highly suggest keeping the twins’ U.S. and Philippine passports within your possession at all times for your peace of mind.