Published 8 February 2019, The Daily Tribune

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Depending on the quality of the relationship, couples are either excited or indifferent or melancholic. Valentine’s Day is not only for happy couples’ heartwarming stories but may also serve as a bitter reminder of failed relationships.

Not a few couples remain profuse in their expression of love for each other especially on a day like Valentine’s. Some are indeed fortunate enough to find and keep the right man of their dreams, but some are not. It can be doubly painful, particularly when a little cupid is born out of wedlock.

In certain instances, the woman is left alone with a bundle of joy yet a sad reminder of her abandonment, or worse, a denial of paternity. How is she going to raise the child alone? How does she protect her child? Lucky for those women who earn more than their needs and are able to provide for their children all on their own, but how about those who have meager resources?

Thankfully, the Family Code provides for the protection of illegitimate children who can claim for support once they prove filiation to their father.

Under our law, if the child’s biological father agrees to acknowledge the illegitimate child as his, he may signify his acknowledgement to such fact in a record of birth appearing in a civil register or by way of an admission of illegitimate filiation in a public document or a handwritten instrument signed by such parent concerned. In the absence thereof, the child’s filiation may be proven by the open and continuous possession of his status as an illegitimate child or any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and Special Laws in a case filed for the purpose of securing a judgment of filiation. However, if the filiation is based upon the two latter mentioned proofs, the action must be filed during the lifetime of the alleged parent.

As a general rule, illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of the mother. However, the child may use the surname of his father if filiation has been expressly recognized by the latter through the record of birth appearing in the civil register or upon his admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument.

Likewise, the illegitimate child is entitled to support or to all those which are indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation because parents and their illegitimate children are among those obliged to support each other under the Family Code.

The law of course does not leave the single mother without any protection. Special laws had been enacted such as the Solo Parent’s Welfare Act of 2000. It provides that an unmarried mother who prefers to keep and rear her child or children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution may avail herself of the following benefits, to wit: 1) flexible work schedule; 2) protection against work discrimination; and 3) parental leave of seven (7) working days every year, in addition to leave privileges under existing laws.

In addition to the aforementioned basic benefits, for solo parents whose income in the place of domicile falls below the poverty threshold, the full force of the law is granted to them such as comprehensive package of social development, educational benefits for the solo parent and the child, housing benefits, and medical assistance.

It is the policy of the State to promote the family as a foundation of the nation, strengthen its solidarity and ensure its total development. Towards this end, laws were created in order to insure the welfare of the children in general.  Nevertheless, all these benefits and protection granted by the law cannot replace the fulfillment and happiness of a complete family. A child with the guidance of father makes a person whole. These laws can only do so much to fill the gaping hole left by a non-existent or unsupportive patriarch. For the solo parents whose fate does not include a complete family, they may find comfort in the words of the famous writer Ralph Waldo Emerson – “It is better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.”

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