I believe my parents are not married as my father was supposedly married to another woman. I have two half-brothers from my father’s first family. My questions are: Who are the legitimate children of my father? Is it possible to be legitimized in case I am an illegitimate child?Will my half-brothers have any claim on the business that my mother and father have built together should my father die?
Before answering your queries, we highly advise you to first investigate and determine if it is true that your parents are not married, and if your father is married to another woman. The answers to these questions are necessary to render a definite legal opinion concerning your situation.
Nevertheless, for your guidance, the rule is children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate, while those conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate (Articles 164 & 165, Family Code of the Philippines). Hence, if your parents are indeed not married to each other, then you were conceived and born outside a valid marriage and therefore considered an illegitimate child. In contrast, if your father is validly married to the mother of your half-brothers and your half-brothers are fruits of their union, then they are legitimate children.
Assuming that you are indeed an illegitimate child, your only hope of becoming a legitimate child is by legitimation. Legitimation refers to the process of raising the status of an illegitimate child through the subsequent valid marriage of the parents. Note, however, that legitimation requires that “the parents are not disqualified to marry each other by any legal impediment at the time of conception of the child, or are so disqualified because either or both of them are minor parents” (Rule 3.1, Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9858). This means that your parents must be capacitated to marry each other at the time you were conceived. Hence, if it is true that your father is validly married to the mother of your half-siblings at the time you were conceived, then I regret to inform you that you are not entitled to legitimation even if your parents decide to get married.
Finally, on your query whether your half-brothers have any claim on the business established by your parents in case your father dies, the answer is they do. We are of the impression that your parents co-own the business considering that they built it together. If this is indeed the case, you father’s share on the business will be transferred to his heirs upon his death. As children of your father, your half-brothers are considered compulsory heirs entitled to receive a part of your father’s estate upon his death, called the legitime, irrespective of whether they are legitimate or illegitimate (Articles 886 & 887, Civil Code).
The fact that they are legitimate or illegitimate, as the case may be, will only affect their share on the estate of your father as the legitime of an illegitimate child is only one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child (Article 1766, Family Code).
Again, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org