My husband filed a petition to get from me the custody of our three minor children. To whom shall the custody of our children be given while the petition is being heard?
After you have filed your answer to the petition for custody filed by your husband or after the period within which to file an answer has expired, the court may issue a provisional order awarding the custody of your minor children. As far as practicable, the following order of preference shall be observed in the award of custody: 1) both parents jointly; 2) either parent, taking into account all relevant considerations, especially the choice of the minor over seven years of age and of sufficient discernment, unless the parent chosen is unfit; 3) the grandparent, or if there are several grandparents, the grandparent chosen by the minor over seven years of age and of sufficient discernment, unless the grandparent chosen is unfit or disqualified; 4) the eldest brother or sister over twenty-one years of age, unless he or she is unfit or disqualified; 5) the actual custodian of the minor over twenty-one years of age, unless the former is unfit or disqualified; or 6) any other person or institution the court may deem suitable to provide proper care and guidance for the minor (Section 13, Rule on Custody of Minors). In awarding custody, the court shall consider the best interests of the minor and shall give paramount consideration to his material and moral welfare. The best interests of the minor refer to the totality of the circumstances and conditions as are most congenial to the survival, protection and feelings of security of the minor encouraging to his physical, psychological and emotional development. It also means the least detrimental available alternative for safeguarding the growth and development of the minor (Section 14, Rule on Custody of Minors).
The court, however, shall provide visitation rights to the non-custodial parent or parents, unless the court finds the parent or parents unfit or disqualified. The temporary custodian shall give the court and non-custodial parent or parents at least five (5) days’ notice of any plan to change the residence of the minor or take him out of his residence for more than three (3) days provided it does not prejudice the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent or parents (Section 15, Rule on Custody of Minors).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org