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Primer on Paternity and Filiation

Primer on Paternity and Filiation


The Family as an Institution


The Family Code of the Philippines considers the family as the foundation of the nation, the same being the basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects. The Family Code provides that family relations include those between the husband and wife, between parents and children, and among brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.


Paternity has been defined as the “civil status of a father in relation to the child” and filiation is defined as the “relationship or tie which exists between parents and their children.”


The Supreme Court has ruled that filiation is an important subject in family relations such that the status of children can never be compromised. The Supreme Court has also given effect to the policy of the Civil Code and Family Code to “liberalize the rule on the investigation of the paternity of illegitimate children, without prejudice to the right of the alleged parent to resist the claimed status with his own defenses, including evidence now obtainable through the facilities of modern medicine and technology.”




The New Civil Code provides for two (2) classes of children, namely: legitimate and illegitimate. Their filiation is fixed by law and not by the will of the parties nor the declaration of any physician or midwife. However, filiation may also be distinguished by nature or by adoption, and by the status of the marriage of the parents. Natural children are considered legitimate if they were conceived or born during the valid marriage of their parents. Illegitimate children are those conceived and born outside a valid marriage or inside a void marriage. Legitimated children, on the other hand, are those born illegitimate to parents who had no legal impediments to marry each other and subsequently contracts marriage. Legitimated children enjoy the same rights as legitimate children.


According to Article 172 of the Family Code, filiation of a legitimate child may be established by any of the following:


  1. The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
  2. An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.


In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be roved by:


  1. The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
  2. Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.


Article 174 provides for the rights of a legitimate child, namely:


  1. To bear the surnames of the father and the mother, in conformity with the provisions of the Civil Code on Surnames;
  2. To receive support from their parents, their ascendants, and in proper cases, their brothers and sisters, in conformity with the provisions of this Code on Support; and
  3. To be entitled to the legitimate and other successional rights granted to them by the Civil Code.


Illegitimate children may also establish their filiation using the same evidence and same way as legitimate children, during the same period.


Article 176 provides that “Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother.”


In cases of artificial insemination, the source of the sperm is irrelevant, whether it be from the husband of the woman or from a donor, the child would be considered legitimate if the spouses authorized the insemination in a written document and such document is executed and signed before the birth of the child. The husband is no longer allowed to assail the legitimacy of the child if he authorized the artificial insemination.


Our law, however, does not recognize the validity of a surrogate mother contract, the same being considered contrary to law, morals, and public policy.


The Supreme Court has already ruled that DNA testing is a valid means to establish paternity.


The following are accepted proof of filiation:


  1. Record of birth appearing in the Civil Register or a Final Judgement
    • Absent the signature of the father in the birth certificate, the placing of his name by anyone, including the mother and physician, is not evidence of paternity.
  2. Admission in public and private handwritten instrument
    • There must be a statement of admission of paternity, signed by the parent concerned, and prepared by him personally
    • “The due recognition of an illegitimate child in a record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or in any authentic writing is, in itself, a consummated act of acknowledgment of the child, and no further court action is required.”
  3. Open and continuous possession of status as legitimate or illegitimate


The same requirements may be used to establish the filiation of an illegitimate child.


Presumption of Legitimacy


Article 164 of the Family Code provides that a child conceived or born during a valid marriage is considered legitimate. However, the presumption of legitimacy may be availed only upon convincing proof of the factual basis thereof. This presumption stands despite the mother’s declaration against it. However, such declaration applies only to situations where the mother denies the paternity of the husband.


Moreover, the issue of legitimacy may only be raised in a direct action, never as a collateral attack. It cannot be contested by way of defense in another action. The Supreme Court has ruled that “[i]mpugning the legitimacy of the child is a strictly personal right of the husband, or in exceptional cases, his heirs for the simple reason that he is the one directly confronted with the scandal and ridicule which the infidelity of his wife produces and he should be the one to decide whether to conceal that infidelity or expose it in view of the moral and economic interest involved. It is only in exceptional cases that his heirs are allowed to contest such legitimacy. Outside of these cases, none – even his heirs – can impugn legitimacy; that would amount to an insult to his memory.”


Article 171 of the Family Code provides for the instances when the heirs of the father may impugn the legitimacy of the child, namely:

  1. If the husband should died before the expiration of the period fixed for bringing his action;
  2. If he should die after the filing of the complaint without having desisted therefrom; or
  3. If the child was born after the death of the husband.




Pursuant to Article 183, “A person of age and in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights may adopt, provided he is in a position to support and care for his children, legitimate or illegitimate, in keeping with the means of the family.” Only minors may be adopted. The adopter must be at least 16 years older than the adoptee, except in cases where the adopter is the parent by nature of the adopted or is the spouse of the legitimate parent.


Article 184 provides for the persons who may not adopt:


  1. The guardian with respect to the ward prior to the approval of the final accounts rendered upon the termination of their guardianship relation;
  2. Any person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;
  3. An alien, except:
    1. A former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative by consanguinity;
    2. One who seeks to adopt the legitimate child of his or her Filipino spouse; or
    3. One who is married to a Filipino citizen and seeks to adopt jointly with his or her spouse a relative by consanguinity of the latter.

Article 187, on the other hand, provides for those who may not be adopted:


  1. A person of legal age, unless he or she is a child by nature of the adopter or his or her spouse, or, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter as his or her own child during minority.
  2. An alien with whose government the Republic of the Philippines has no diplomatic relations; and
  3. A person who has already been adopted unless such adoption has been previously revoked or rescinded.


The effects of adoption are, according to Article 189:


  1. For civil purposes, the adopted shall be deemed to be a legitimate child of the adopters and both shall acquire the reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including the right of the adopted to use the surname of the adopters;
  2. The parental authority of the parents by nature over the adopted shall terminate and be vested in the adopters, except that if the adopter is the spouse of the parent by nature of the adopted, parental authority over the adopted shall be exercised jointly by both spouses; and
  3. The adopted shall remain an intestate heir of his parents and other blood relatives.




Support, according to Article 194, comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.


The spouses, legitimate ascendants and descendants, parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter, parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter, and legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood are obliged to support each other.


The amount of support shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the one giving support and to the necessities of the recipient, and may be increased or reduced. Support may be demanded from the time the person who has right to receive needs it for maintenance, subject to the date of the judicial or extra-judicial demand. When a stranger gives the support without the knowledge of the person obliged to give the same, the stranger has the legal right to reimbursement. When the person obliged to give support refuses to give the same, a third person may give the support and is also entitled to reimbursement.


Paternal Authority


Article 209 imposes upon the parents the authority and responsibility to care for, rear for civic consciousness and efficiency, and development for the moral, mental, and physical well-being of their children.


Renunciation and transfer of parental authority and responsibility may only be done in cases authorized by law. Article 211 provides that the father and the mother are to jointly exercise parental authority over their common children and in case of disagreement, the father’s decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary. In case of absence or death, the remarriage of the surviving parent shall not affect the parental authority over the children.


Parents and those exercising parental authority have the following duties:


  1. To keep them in their company, to support, educate and instruct them by right precept and good example, and to provide for their upbringing in keeping with their means;
  2. To give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding;
  3. To provide them with moral and spiritual guidance, inculcate in them honesty, integrity, self-discipline, self-reliance, industry and thrift, stimulate their interest in civic affairs, and inspire in them compliance with the duties of citizenship;
  4. To furnish them with good and wholesome educational materials, supervise their activities, recreation and association with others, protect them from bad company, and prevent them from acquiring habits detrimental to their health, studies and morals;
  5. To represent them in all matters affecting their interests;
  6. To demand from them respect and obedience;
  7. To impose discipline on them as may be required under the circumstances; and
  8. To perform such other duties as are imposed by law upon parents and guardians.


The parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused by the acts or omissions of their unemancipated children living in their company and under their parental authority.


The father and the mother shall jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of the unemancipated common child without the necessity of a court appointment.


Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9262)


“Violence against women and their children” refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.


This includes, but is not limited to:


  1. Physical violence
  2. Sexual violence
  3. Psychological violence
  4. Economic abuse


Dating relationship, as defined in the law is a “a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.”


Sexual relations, on the other hand, is a “single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child.”


The acts of violence are committed through:

  1. Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;
  2. Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
  3. Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
  4. Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;
  5. Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman’s or her child’s movement or conduct:
    1. Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;
    2. Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support;
    3. Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;
    4. Preventing the woman in engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controlling the victim’s own mon4ey or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;
  6. Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;
  7. Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;
  8. Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:
    1. Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;
    2. Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;
    3. Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;
    4. Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and
    5. Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;
  9. Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman’s child/children.

The penalty for any violation of the provisions of RA No. 9262 ranges from arresto mayor (1-30 days imprisonment) to prision mayor(6 years and 1 day to 12 years imprisonment), depending on the acts committed.


A protection order may also be issued to prevent further acts of violence against the woman or her child. These protection orders may either be a Barangay Protection Order, Temporary Protection Order, or Permanent Protection Order. Other reliefs may be included in these protection orders despite absence of a decree of legal separation,  annulment, or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage.


The filing for a protection order is not limited to the woman. The following people may also apply for the same:


  1. the offended party;
  2. parents or guardians of the offended party;
  3. ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;
  4. officers or social workers of the DSWD or social workers of local government units (LGUs);
  5. police officers, preferably those in charge of women and children’s desks;
  6. Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad;
  7. lawyer, counselor, therapist or healthcare provider of the petitioner;
  8. At least two (2) concerned responsible citizens of the city or municipality where the violence against women and their children occurred and who has personal knowledge of the offense committed.



Aguilar vs. Siasat, G.R. No. 200169, January 28, 2015.

Angeles vs. Maglaya, G.R. No. 153798, September 2, 2005.

Augustin vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 162571, June 15, 2005.

Baluyut vs. Baluyut, G.R. No. L-33659, June 14, 1990.

Civil Law Reviewer Volume I, Elmer T. Rabuya, 2017.

Executive Order No. 209, Family Code of the Philippines.

Geronimo vs. Santos, G.R. No. 197099, September 28, 2015.

Liyao, Jr. vs. Tanhoti-Liyao, G.R. No. 138961, March 7, 2002.

Mendoza vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 86302, September 24, 1991.

Noe vs. Velasco, 61 OG 411.

Persons and Family Relations Law, Melencio S. Sta. Maria, Jr. 2010.

Republic Act No. 386, New Civil Code of the Philippines.

Republic Act No. 9262, Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004

Roces vs. Local Civil Registrar, G.R. No. L-10598, February 14, 1958.

San Augustin vs. Sales, G.R. No. 189289, August 31, 2016.

Tijing vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125901, March 8, 2001.

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