This article talks about the rights of a father over his illegitimate child. Although the mother shall have sole parental authority over the child, the father has visitation rights over his child.
Art. 176 of the Family Code states that an illegitimate child shall be under the parental authority of the mother.
An illegitimate child is one conceived and born outside a valid marriage (Art. 165, Family Code). Thus, an illegitimate child shall be under the parental authority of the mother. This finds support in Art. 176 of the Family Code which states:
“Art. 176. 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. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in force.”
The father, as the parent of the child, has the natural right to care for his illegitimate child. Thus, the father has visitorial rights over his child.
However, it is well to note that even if the mother is the one vested with parental authority over the illegitimate child, the father, as the child’s parent, has the natural right to care for his children. Thus, in Silva vs. Court of Appeals [G.R. No. 114742, 17 July 1997], the Supreme Court elucidated:
“Parents have the natural right, as well as the moral and legal duty, to care for their children, see to their proper upbringing and safeguard their best interest and welfare. This authority and responsibility may not be unduly denied the parents; neither may it be renounced by them. Even when the parents are estranged and their affection for each other is lost, the attachment and feeling for their offsprings invariably remain unchanged. Neither the law nor the courts allow this affinity to suffer absent, of course, any real, grave and imminent threat to the well-being of the child. x x x
There is, despite a dearth of specific legal provisions, enough recognition on the inherent and natural right of parents over their children. Article 150 of the Family Code expresses that “(f)amily relations include those . . . (2) (b)etween parents and children; . . . .” Article 209, in relation to Article 220, of the Code states that it is the natural right and duty of parents and those exercising parental authority to, among other things, keep children in their company and to give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding. The Constitution itself speaks in terms of the “natural and primary rights” of parents in the rearing of the youth. There is nothing conclusive to indicate that these provisions are meant to solely address themselves to legitimate relationships. Indeed, although in varying degrees, the laws on support and successional rights, by way of examples, clearly go beyond the legitimate members of the family and so explicitly encompass illegitimate relationships as well.”
Such case enunciated the doctrine that a father has visitation rights over his illegitimate child. This was further affirmed in Briones vs. Miguel [G.R. No. 156343, 18 October 2004], where the Supreme Court sustained the visitorial right of an illegitimate father over his children in view of the constitutionally protected inherent and natural right of parents over their children. Consequently, even if the parents are not married, the mother cannot deprive the father of visitation rights over his child.
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