According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), there are about 14 million solo parents in the Philippines.
This has led the Philippine Government to pass Republic Act of 8972, otherwise known as the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, which became a law on November 7, 2000.
The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act provides a comprehensive program of services for solo parents and their children.
This law covers father or mothers who raise their children by themselves, because of circumstances like the death of a spouse, abandonment, separation, or even those who have children as a result of rape.
This law also considers as a solo parent those who are left to care for children not their own, such as nephews, nieces, or godchildren. If you are solely responsible for bringing up a child, you are considered as a solo parent under this Act.
Here are common legal issues that solo parents in the Philippines encounter:
- Here are common legal issues that solo parents in the Philippines encounter:
- General Issues
- I’m a single parent to a five year old. It’s the first time I’ve heard of the solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. What do I need to know about it?
- Can I still get a Solo Parent ID even if there was no annulment or legal separation?
- The law states that the solo parent must be considered “living below the poverty line.” What exactly does this mean?
- I have been acting as a solo parent for almost five years because my husband works as a seaman. Can I get a Solo Parent ID as well as avail of its benefits and privileges?
- I heard about the seven-day parental leave from a friend who is a solo parent. What are the conditions I must fulfill to get this privilege?
- The company I work for gives us 15 days of paid vacation leave and seven days of sick leave. I am a solo parent, yet our HR head says I cannot get the seven days of parental leave. Is the seven-day leave for solo parents an additional seven days?
- I have read somewhere that solo parents can get discounts on milk and other needs of the child. How do we avail of these discounts: 10% on children’s clothing (from birth to two years); 15% on formula, food, and food supplements (from birth to two years); and 15% on medicines and medical supplements or supplies (from birth to five years)?
- The company I work for says they do not follow the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. To which government agency can I go to ask for assistance so that my company can be compelled to follow this law?
- Travel Issues
- I’m a single parent and I want to travel abroad with my child. Are there any legal requirements I have to fulfill?
- I plan to migrate to the U.S. with my child, even if her dad does not approve of my decision. Can he bar me from bringing our daughter abroad? We are neither legally separated nor annuled.
- My ex-girlfriend and her fiance plan to travel overseas with my eight-year old son. I’m worried she might not return with my son. We were never married, but we share custody of our son, although there is no formal agreement or document to support our arrangement. Can I decline her request to take my son with them?
- Custody Issues
- My ex-girlfriend and I have a child together. We separated soon after she gave birth, and she now resides in the U.S., while our son is with me. I have raised him on my own since then. She is here in the Philippines for a visit and wants to bring our 5-year old son with her back to the U.S. What are her rights and how do these affect my own rights as the father?
- I’m a single mom, and I was recently diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. I’m worried that if my treatment does not work, both my children will be left orphaned. If this is the case, who will get custody of my kids? I don’t want my ex-partner to get custody of them, because I know he cannot provide for their future. How can I secure my kids’ future?
- My husband passed away a year ago, and now I am left caring for our 2 kids. I am struggling to support them, and I know my in-laws (whom I am not on good terms with) will do anything to take them away from me. Is there a legal way for my in-laws to take custody of my children?
- Legitimacy and Adoption Issues
- My marriage was annulled last year, and I was told that my child is now considered illegitimate. How do I legitimize his status?
- I’m getting married this year. My fiance wants to adopt my son from a previous relationship, but I know that my ex-boyfriend, the child’s father, will not allow it. My ex-boyfriend and I are not in good terms, and he neither sees our child nor gives support. what is an acceptable compromise in this situation?
- I had a daughter when I was 18. When I gave birth, my parents asked my then boyfriend and the father of my daughter to sign his name on the birth certificate and on a waiver revoking all his rights over our daughter. Is the waiver considered valid and binding under the law? I want to know if this will create any legal complications. Can my ex-boyfriend demand custody of and visitation rights with my daughter, who is now three years old?
- General Issues
The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 is a law protecting the rights of solo parents. The Act includes the following benefits:
- flexible work schedule from your employer
- anti-discrimination in terms of employment
- parental leaves of not more than seven days
- housing benefits and assistance on government housing projects,
- educational and medical assistance.
You must first secure a Solo Parent Identification Card from the Social Welfare and development Office in the city or municipality where you live to be able to enjoy the benefits provided in the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000.
Can I still get a Solo Parent ID even if there was no annulment or legal separation?
Yes. Any parent may be considered a “solo parent” under the law if he or she is left with the responsibility of raising the child or children.
You must have been separated for at least one year and you have custody of your children.
In fact, any family member – and he does not need to be married – who assumes the responsibility as the head of the family due to the abandonment, death, disappearance, or absence of at least one year of the parent(s) may avail of the benefits under the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000.
Living below the poverty line means that a solo parent’s income must be below the standards set by the National Economic Development Authority for the city or municipality where the solo parent resides.
For example, if you live in a city where the poverty threshold is at Php 9,500 per month, and your income is only Php8,500 monthly, then you are considered to be “living below the poverty line.”
This means that if a social worker assigned to you assesses your case, you may be entitled to support as a solo parent.
You are not considered a solo parent and will not be able to apply for a Solo Parent ID as well as avail of its benefits and privileges since you have a spouse who only happens to work overseas.
You are entitled to the Parental Leave provided the following requirements are met:
- You have rendered service, whether continuous or broken, to you employer for at least one year.
- You have notified your employer of your intention to avail of a Parental Leave within a reasonable period.
- You have presented your Solo Parent ID to your employer.
The parental leave is on top of or exclusive of the usual 15-day vacation leave or all other leave privileges granted by the law and your employer to all other employees.
This is a proposed deal that has not yet been passed by Congress.
Should your employer deny you of your rights as a solo parent, the best remedy is to bring the matter to the attention of the Department of Labor and Employment, as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development as they are the agencies designated by law to implement the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act.
Aside from the usual requirements of a passport and visa, you will not be required to secure a travel clearance to be able to travel abroad with your minor child.
Only those minors who are travelling with individuals other than their parents will be required to secure a travel clearance from the DSWD.
Article 211 of the Family Code clearly states that both parents (who are validly married to each other) have joint parental authority over your child.
If you move your child to another country without the consent of your husband, you would be violating your husband’s right of parental authority.
Your husband may go to court to file the appropriate case to prevent you from taking your child out of the country.
He may obtain an order from the court to require you to return your child. Also consider the migration checklist of the country where you intend to move. The list may include a requirement for you to obtain the consent of your husband or a travel clearance from the DSWD.
As parents, you both exercise joint parental authority over your child – with or without a formal agreement.
At the same time, Article 176 of the Family Code states that the mother will have custody and parental rights over illegitimate children or those born out of wedlock.
Since you and your ex-girlfriend were never married, your child is considered illegitimate. Despite the fact that you have an arrangement with your ex-girlfriend that allows you to share custody of your child, your consent with respect to traveling abroad is not necessary.
A minor can easily travel outside the country without obtaining a clearance from the DSWD as long as the child is traveling with one of the parents.
However, you may keep your ex-girlfriend from traveling with your child by obtaining a court order to prohibit the child from traveling. The petition to the court shall include reasons why the said travel would not be in the best interest of your child.
There are only eight specific reasons why one’s parental authority over a child may be terminated.
- Death of a parent
- Death of the child
- Emancipation of the child
- Appointment of a general guardian
- Abandonment of the child
- Absence or incapacity of the parent to exercise his/her parental rights
- Court officially strips the parent of his or her parental authority
Since none of the reasons above are present, the mother of your child cannot be prevented from exercising her parental rights over your child. Your ex-girlfriend still has rights over your son, and the law even prefers her to have custody and authority over your child since he is below seven years of age.
So how do you protect your own rights, given that you have always had custody of him while his mother was away?
You may seek remedy from the court by asking to take away the mother’s parental authority over your child, but only if there are sufficient grounds to show that she is an unfit parent.
In case of the death of either parent, the parent present shall continue exercising custody of the children. Thus, the father of your children is legally entitled to have custody.
Your remedy is to go to court to request that the court appoint the guardian of your choice for your child, in the event of your passing. This way, you are able to carefully choose who will take custody and care of your children.
Make sure that you state why your ex-partner is unfit or unsuitable to take custody of your children, and indicate the person or relative you would like to be your children’s guardian.
In the event that you pass away before you have chosen a guardian for your children, the law provides that the surviving parent or biological father will have custody and parental authority over your children.
If he is unfit to care for your children, the children’s grandparents are the next of kin who shall have parental rights over them.
Your in-laws cannot take your children away from you.
Financial difficulty alone is not a sufficient ground to render you an unfit parent.
Your in-laws would need to prove in court that you are an unfit parent and file a petition requesting the court to appoint them as your children’s guardians.
Legitimacy and Adoption Issues
If your child’s status has become illegitimate due to the annulment of your previous marriage, you may change his status to a legitimate child once you remarry – by having your new spouse adopt your child.
Legal adoption requires a written consent of the biological parent, because with adoption, the parent giving up consent over the child loses complete parental authority over him.
It is still best to try to reach out to your ex-boyfriend and ask for his written consent before you proceed with the adoption to avoid any conflict that may arise in the future and damage further the relationship between you and your son’s father.
This way, you cannot be blamed for unfairly depriving your son’s father of his personal rights over your child.
If you are truly unable to secure your ex’s written consent, you may still proceed with the adoption by showing proof that the biological father of your son has abandoned the child. This would justify the fact that his consent to the adoption was not obtained.
Article 210 of the Family Code clearly says that parental authority may not be renounced or transferred except in cases provided by law.
The law allows the relinquishment or waiver of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship, or surrender to an orphanage, in which case a certain procedure must be followed.
Consequently, the written waiver signed by the biological father when the child was born is not valid.
Any waiver that is contrary to law or public policy is not valid, and in this case, the waiver goes against his parental right.
However, since you are not married to the biological father, you exercise sole parental authority over your child . He will not be able to get custody of your child, except if he is able to prove in court that you are an unfit parent. He may go to court and request for visitation rights, though.