What are the custody rights of an illegitimate child’s father?

Custody is often a matter discussed when a child’s parents have legally separated or annulled their marriage. It also takes center stage in cases of children borne out of wedlock.

In this blog post, we will tackle the topic of custody and whether or not the father of an illegitimate child can exercise or assume parental authority or custodial rights.

Key notes on child custody in the Philippines

  • You can’t separate a child from his or her mother. Under Article 213 of the Family Code, children under 7 years of age are under the parental authority of their mothers. This rule extends to illegitimate children. The mother, however, can lose her custody rights and parental authority if she is deemed by the state unfit to raise her child. These “compelling reasons” include unemployment, neglect, and failure to accomplish parental duties. Prostitute, unfaithfulness, and the mother’s sexual orientation are not considered grounds to remove a child from his or her mother’s custody unless it evidence suggests such an environment is detrimental to the child’s development.
  • The child can influence decisions regarding custody. If the child is at an age where he or she can make intelligent choices, his or her preferences and best interests can trump procedural rules.

You can read more about child custody in the Philippines here.

Does a father have custody rights over his illegitimate children?

It depends. Article 176 of the Family Code clearly states that, “Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of  their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code…

From that statement, we can surmise that the mother has custody rights and parental authority over her illegitimate child. The child’s father, however, can get custody if it is proven that the mother can’t provide a safe and loving environment for her child.

Instances where the court can decide to deny the mother of her custodial right and give it to the illegitimate child’s father are as follows:

  • Failure to exercise parental care
  • Drug addiction
  • Maltreatment of the child
  • Immorality
  • Insanity
  • Unemployment
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment

In cases where the mother is abroad and unable to care for her child, the court won’t deny her of her custodial rights and grant it to the father. You can read more about this situation here.

Does the father have any rights over his illegitimate child?

Yes, definitely. For one, the father of an illegitimate child must have the right to access his child (visitation right). The father will only be denied his visitation right if such meetings between father and child are deemed detrimental to the child’s well-being.

When it comes to the surname of the illegitimate child, the father or the mother can’t dictate the child’s last name. Only the child himself or herself has the right to decide which surname to take when he or she becomes of age. But for the mean time, illegitimate children shall bear the surname of their mothers.

For more details about legitimation, the Philippine Statistics Authority has everything you need  to know. You can also talk to Duran & Duran-Schulze Law today at [email protected] or (+632) 478 5826.

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