G.R. No. 193225, 9 February 2015
BBB and AAA allege that they started to date seriously only in 1996. AAA was then a medical student and was raising her first child borne from a previous relationship, named CCC, a boy. During their relationship, AAA bore two more children namely, DDD (born on December 11, 1997) and EEE (born on October 19, 2000). BBB and AAA married in civil rights to legalize their relationship. The birth certificates of the children, including CCC’s, was amended to change their civil status to legitimated by virtue of the said marriage. Later on, their relationship turn sour and they decided to live separately. Citing economic and psychological abuse, AAA filed an application for the issuance of a Temporary Protection Order with a request to make the same permanent after due hearing, before the RTC. Finding good ground in AAA’s application, the RTC issued a TPO. The TPO was thereafter, made permanent by virtue of a Decision of the RTC dated August 14, 2007.
BBB appealed before the CA. CA affirmed RTC’s decision but ordered the remand of the case for the latter to determine in the proper proceedings to determine who shall be awarded custody of the children. The CA found that under the provisions of RA9262, BBB had subjected AAA and their children to psychological, emotional and economic abuses. BBB displayed acts of marital infidelity which exposed AAA to public ridicule causing her emotional and psychological distress. While BBB alleged that FFF was only a professional colleague, he continued to have public appearances with her which did not help to dispel AAA’s accusation that the two had an extra-marital relation. BBB filed a Manifestation and Motion to Render Judgment Based on a MOA alleging that he and AAA had entered into a compromise regarding the custody, exercise of parental authority over, and support of DDD and EEE: that BBB shall have the custody over both children.
Whether or not the RTC should determine who shall be awarded custody over the children.
YES. All told, the Court finds no merit in BBB’s petition, but there exists a necessity to remand the case for the RTC to resolve matters relative to who shall be granted custody over the three children, how the spouses shall exercise visitation rights, and the amount and manner of providing financial support. The RTC and the CA found substantial evidence and did not commit reversible errors when they issued the PPO against BBB. Events, which took place after the issuance of the PPO, do not erase the fact that psychological, emotional and economic abuses were committed by BBB against AAA. Hence, BBB’s claim that he now has actual sole care of DDD and EEE does not necessarily call for this Court’s revocation of the PPO and the award to him of custody over the children.
This Court, thus, affirms the CA’s order to remand the case for the RTC to resolve the question of custody. Since the children are now all older than seven years of age, they can choose for themselves whom they want to stay with. Pursuant to Articles 201 and 202 of the Family Code, husband’s resources and means and the necessities of the wife and the children are the essential factors in determining the amount of support, and the same can be reduced or increased proportionately.
If all the three children would manifest to the RTC their choice to stay with AAA, then the PPO issued by RTC shall continue to be executed in its entirety. However, if any of the three children would choose to be under BBB’s care, necessarily, the PPO issued against BBB relative to them is to be modified. The PPO, in its entirety, would remain effective only as to AAA and any of the children who opt to stay with her. Consequently, the RTC may accordingly alter the manner and amount of financial support BBB should give depending on who shall finally be awarded custody over the children.The RTC is reminded to be circumspect in resolving the matter of support, which is a mutual responsibility of the spouses. The parties do not dispute that AAA is now employed as well, thus, the RTC should consider the same with the end in mind of promoting the best interests of the children.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018