Mom or Dad? A Guide on Child Custody in the Philippines

Legal separation between parents, and the matters affected by it, are one of the most intense and complicated parts of any family litigation. In the case of child custody, the courts take a look into several factors to deem who is the more worthy parent to exercise parental authority: the mother or the father. Here are some of the things you should know about child custody in the Philippines.

The well-being of the child is of paramount importance.

According to Article 213 of the Family Code, the paramount criterion when it comes to child custody is the welfare of the child. This means the court will take into careful consideration the capabilities of both mother and father to raise the child, including their moral, social, and economic situation.

It should also be noted that other procedural rules can be overridden by the best interests of the child, especially if the child is at an age where he or she can make intelligent decisions.

As stated in Article 213 of the Family Code, “Every child has rights which are not and should not be dependent solely on the wishes, much less the whims and caprices, of his parents. His welfare should not be subject to the parents’ say-so or mutual agreement alone.”

The mother has parental authority over children under 7 years of age.

According to the same article in the Family Code, “no child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.” This is due to the fact that a mother’s loving care is regarded as one of the basic needs of a child.
The same rule extends to illegitimate children.

As stipulated in the article, however, the mother will lose parental authority and custody over the child if “compelling reasons” were found by the court. This includes instances of neglect and abandonment, drug abuse, unemployment, failure of exercising parental duties, as well as leaving the child to the care of others permanently or otherwise, and regardless of intention. Prostitution and unfaithfulness to the husband may not be used as grounds to separate a child from the mother. The mother’s sexual orientation cannot also be used to separate her from her child, unless there is evidence that this is not conducive to her child’s overall development.

If a child under 7 years of age expresses his or her desire to stay with the mother or the father, the court is not bound by that preference especially if the chosen parent is deemed unfit by the court.

Parental authority is inalienable

Unless it is expressly authorized by the law, parents cannot simply give up and/or transfer their parental authority and responsibilities. The only exceptions to this is in cases the child being surrendered to a home or an orphanage, as well as guardianship and adoption.

When a parent entrusts his minor child’s custody and care to a relative or a friend, this only entails temporary custody.

Learn more about child custody in the Philippines

For more information, get in touch with Duran & Duran-Schulze Law at or (+632) 478 5826.

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