G.R. No. 111180, 16 November 1995
Petitioner Daisie T. David worked as secretary of private respondent Ramon R. Villar, a businessman in Angeles City. Private respondent is a married man and the father of four children, all grown-up. After a while, the relationship between petitioner and private respondent developed into an intimate one, as a result of which a son, Christopher J., was born on March 9, 1985 to them. Christopher J. was followed by two more children, both girls, namely Christine, born on June 9, 1986, and Cathy Mae on April 24, 1988.
The relationship became known to private respondent’s wife when Daisie took Christopher J, to Villar’s house at Villa Teresa in Angeles City sometime in 1986 and introduced him to Villar’s legal wife.
After this, the children of Daisie were freely brought by Villar to his house as they were eventually accepted by his legal family.
In the summer of 1991, Villar asked Daisie to allow Christopher J., then six years of age, to go with his family to Boracay. Daisie agreed, but after the trip, Villar refused to give back the child. Villar said he had enrolled Christopher J. at the Holy Family Academy for the next school year.
On July 30, 1991, Daisie filed a petition for habeas corpus on behalf of Christopher J.
Whether or not the mother has the rightful custody of the child.
Yes. As such, pursuant to Art. 176 of the Family Code, Christopher J. is under the parental authority of his mother who, as a consequence of such authority, is entitled to have custody of him. Since, admittedly, petitioner has been deprived of her rightful custody of her child by private respondent; she is entitled to issuance of the writ of habeas corpus.
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 fact that private respondent has recognized the minor child may be a ground for ordering him to give support to the latter, but not for giving him custody of the child. Under Art.213 of 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.”
In the case at bar, as has already been pointed out, Christopher J., being less than seven years of age at least at the time the case was decided by the RTC, cannot be taken from the mother’s custody. Even now that the child is over seven years of age, the mother’s custody over him will have to be upheld because the child categorically expressed preference to live with his mother.
* Case digest by Prince Dave C. Santiago, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018