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Single Moms and their Child Support and Child Custody Rights
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  • If you're a single mom, you should be aware of your rights and the laws that pertain to child custody and child support. 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

    4 common questions about child financial support law in the Philippines

    Child support is regular financial support provided by a parent who does not have custody of the child (i.e. his dad). It is used for the needs of the child and is usually given to the parent who has custody of the child (i.e. his mom). It can also be paid by both parents if someone else, like a relative, has custody of the child.

    Please note that should anyone pursue a case pertaining to child custody and/or support, they are advised to seek legal counsel. This article is meant to be generally informative and not a specific treatment of a case.

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    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 illegitimate under 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 consequences of parental authority. Parental authority includes the 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.  

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    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 dependsIn the case of married couples, the father and the mother jointly exercise parental 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.

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    What are the specific laws that pertain to child support, especially for single mothers? What can single mothers do to demand child support from the father?

    Support can be found under Articles 193 to 203 of the Family Code.  Support has some basic principles:

    • It is everything that is indispensable for food, shelter, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation in keeping with the financial capacity of the family
    • It is joint (whether the parents are married or not), based on the proportion of the resources
    • It is based on the needs of the child and the means of the parents (there are no fixed percentages or rules on how much child support will be given)
    • It is never final (as the situation changes, so, too will child support requirements)
    • It must be demanded.

    To claim or demand support, the single mother must prove that the child is related to the putative father.  In case the father disputes his paternity, this can easily be established by a DNA test.

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    The single mother must demand for child support, and this is best done in writing, with proof that such demand was received by the father.   If the father of the child refuses to provide child support despite receiving a written demand, the single mother can now sue the father for child support.

    In the case a child is taken away without the consent of the single mother, what legal actions can a single mother take?

    The single mother can file a civil and/or criminal case under Republic Act No. 90262, or “The Anti-Violence Act against Women and Children”.  Or, the single mother can also choose to file kidnapping charges under the Revised Penal Code.

    In case the father, who had been given access, takes the child away contrary to the terms under which he was given access, the single mother can sue him under RA No. 9262 or file a petition for contempt against him for violating any court order.

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