Adoption may give a child legitimate status

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am an adopted child, but my adoption did not undergo the proper legal procedure. My mom and dad are married but they have no children so they adopted me. I even have a birth certificate reflecting that I am their child, and with my mom’s signature on it. My dad has four illegitimate children, which my mom knew and accepted.

My mom died recently and we were devastated. May I ask if I am entitled to any of my mom’s pieces of property? Do I have rights over them? What about my dad’s illegitimate children?

Thank you very much. Hoping you can help me know what I should do.
Ramil

Dear Ramil,
The governing law on adoption in this jurisdiction is Republic Act (RA)8552, the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998. One of the effects of adoption is stated in Section 17 of thislaw, which provides that the adoptee shall be considered the legitimate child of the adopter for intents and purposes, and as such entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children born to them without discrimination of any kind. Further, Section 18 specifies that in succession, the adopter and adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation.


In the case of Lazatin vs. Campos (G.R. No. L-43955-56, July 30, 1979; ponente, former Supreme Court Justice Claudio Teehankee), it was held that “a child by adoption cannot inherit from the parent by adoption unless the act of adoption has been done in strict accord with the stature. Until this is done, no rights are acquired by the child and neither the supposed adopting parents or adopted child could be bound thereby. The burden of proof in establishing adoption is upon the person claiming such relationship. He must prove compliance with the statutes relating to adoption in the jurisdiction where the adoption occurred.” Adoption is deemed not merely an act to establish the relation of paternity and filiation but one which may give a child a legitimate status. It is a juridical act, which creates between two persons a relationship similar to that which results from legitimate paternity and filiation (In Re: Leopoldo Prasnik, March 23, 1956; ponente, former Associate Justice Angelo Bautista).

Upon your mother’s death, the rights and obligations to the extent of the value of her inheritance are transmitted through her death to another or others either by her will or by operation of law (Article 774, New Civil Code of the Philippines (NCC)). Only heirs, however,are entitled to succeed over her pieces of property either by the provision of a will or by operation of law and that the law reserved a part of the testator’s property for certain heirs who are, therefore, called compulsory heirs (Articles 782 and 886, Id.). A person’s compulsory heirs are the following: 1) legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants; 2) in default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants; 3) the widow or widower; and 4) acknowledged illegitimate children (Article 887, NCC).

From the foregoing, you may not be entitled to inherit from your mother, absent a proof that you were legally adopted. Your mother and father resorted to simulation of birth by making it appear that they are your biological parents. This is even punishable under Article 347 of the Revised Penal Code. The person who caused the registration of your birth, making it appear that your mother and father are your biological parents, can be held liable for such act. And as a result of not undergoing the legal procedure of adoption, you may not enjoy the status of a legitimate child of your parents; hence you are not a compulsory heir.

Also, the illegitimate children of your father cannot also inherit from your mother even if the latter knew and accepted them as the children of your father for the same reason that they are not compulsory heirs of your mother. Since you are not validly adopted, the only instance for you to inherit from your mother is to be designated and instituted as an heir in a will executed by your mother. This is equally true for the other illegitimate children of your father.

We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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