A married businessman and an unmarried local actress lived together without the benefit of marriage. From their union, two children were born. After some time, the couple began to argue about the actress resuming her career and things went downhill from there. The couple parted ways but agreed that while the kids stayed with the mother during the week, they would spend their weekends with their father. But eventually, the mother did not allow the children to spend the weekends with their father because he often “engaged in gambling and womanizing which she feared could affect the moral and social values of the children.” The father filed a petition for custodial rights over the children.
The trial court granted visitorial rights to the father during the weekend but “in no case should he take out the children without the written consent of the mother.” The Court of Appeals reversed the trial courts decision, finding it wise to grant sole custody to the mother.
With Articles 3 and 8 of PD 603, in mind, we find it to the best interest of the minor children, to deny visitorial and/or temporary custodial rights to the father, even at the expense of hurting said parent. After all, if indeed his love for the children is genuine and more divine than the love for himself, a little self-sacrifice and self-denial may bring more benefit to the children. While petitioner-appellee, as father, may not intentionally prejudice the children by improper influence, what the children may witness and hear while in their father’s house may not be in keeping with the atmosphere of morality and rectitude where they should be brought up.
The children concerned are still in their early formative years of life. The molding of the character of the child starts at home. A home with only one parent is more normal than two separate houses.
The Supreme Court, however, recognized the inherent and natural right of the father to visit his children without any grant from the court, regardless if the children were legitimate or not. Visitation rights referred to is the right of access of a noncustodial parent to his or her child or children.
Despite a death of specific legal provisions, [there is]enough recognition on the inherent and natural right of parents over their children… Article 209, in relation to Article 220, of the Code states that it is the natural right and duty of parents and those exercising parental authority to, among other things, keep children in their company and to give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding. The Constitution itself speaks in terms of the “natural and primary rights” of parents in the rearing of the youth. There is nothing conclusive to indicate that these provisions are meant to solely address themselves to legitimate relationships… Article 49 of the Family Code provides for appropriate visitation rights to parents who are not given custody of their children.
x x x x
Parents have the natural right, as well as the moral and legal duty, to care for their children, see to their proper upbringing and safeguard their best interest and welfare. This authority and responsibility may not be unduly denied the parents; neither may it be renounced by them. Even when the parents are estranged and their affection for each other is lost, the attachment and feeling for their offsprings invariably remain unchanged.
Neither the law nor the courts allow this affinity to suffer absent, of course, any real, grave and imminent threat to the well-being of the child custodial parent to his or her child or children (Silva v. CA, G.R. No. 114742, 17 July 1997, J. Vitug).