My mother left me and my brother in 2001 because she had to work abroad. Our father was supposed to look after us but all he ever did was gamble. My parents have been married for almost 22 years, but my mother told me that they do not have any savings because my father squandered them away. My brother and I had a hard time coping with our studies, because there were years that we had to be pulled out from school. This happened because my father did not pay the rest of our tuition even if my mother had sent him enough money to answer for a year’s worth of tuition.
Now my mother has decided to stay in the Philippines, to look after us, and make sure that we finish our education. I am already 20 years old, and I will only start studying for college next school year. My brother is 18 years old, and will be entering 4th year high school. But the problem is, my father does not want us to stay with our mother. He said that his decision will prevail, and we cannot do anything about it. Is this true? Don’t we have any say or right just because he is our father? Please enlighten and help us.
Under our law, parental authority over minor legitimate children shall belong to both their mothers and fathers. In case of disagreement, the father’s decision shall prevail, except when there is a judicial order to the contrary. Parental authority includes the right to care and rear for the children so as to enhance their civic consciousness and efficiency as well as the development of their moral, mental and physical character and well-being (Article 211 in relation to Article 209, Family Code of the Philippines).
It should be stressed, however, that parental authority does not last perpetually. Parental authority terminates permanently upon the death of the parents, the death of the child or upon emancipation of the child (Article 228, Ibid.). Parental authority also terminates by reason of the adoption of the child, upon appointment of a general guardian for the child, upon judicial declaration of abandonment of the child in a case filed for the purpose, by reason of a final judgment of a competent court divesting the party concerned of parental authority or upon judicial declaration of absence or incapacity of the person exercising parental authority (Article 229, Id.).
Based on the foregoing, your father and mother no longer have the right to exercise parental authority over you and your brother because such right has already been terminated considering that both of you have already been emancipated. Emancipation, under the law, takes place by the attainment of majority and unless otherwise provided, majority commences at the age of eighteen years (Article 234, Id.).
Accordingly, your father is incorrect in claiming that his decision has to prevail. His choices will no longer prevail insofar as your personal decisions are concerned, particularly as to whom you and your brother wish to live with. You may decide for yourselves given that, as already mentioned, both of you are of legal age already. Thus, you should choose where or with whom you and your brother will have sound opportunities and a good fighting chance of having a better future.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts 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