Civil Law

UNSON III vs. HON. PEDRO C. NAVARRO AND EDITA N. ARANETA G.R. No. L-52242 November 17, 1980 Child Custody (Habeas Corpus)

FACTS:
Petition for certiorari to have the order of respondent judge ordering petitioner to produce the child, Maria Teresa Unson, his daughter barely eight years of age, with private respondent Edita N. Araneta and return her to the custody of the latter, further obliging petitioner to “continue his support of said daughter by providing for her education and medical needs,” allegedly issued without a “hearing” and the reception of testimony in violation of Section 6 of Rule 99.

Petitioner and private respondent were married and out of that marriage the child in question, Teresa, was born. However, they executed an agreement for the separation of their properties and to live separately. The agreement was approved by the Court. The parties are agreed that no specific provision was contained in said agreement about the custody of the child because the husband and wife would have their own private arrangement in that respect.

ISSUE: To whom shall the custody of Teresa be granted?

RULING:

In controversies regarding the custody of minors the sole and foremost consideration is the physical, education, social and moral welfare of the child concerned, taking into account the respective resources and social and moral situations of the contending parents. Never has this Court diverted from that criterion.

With this premise in view, the Court finds no difficulty in this case in seeing that it is in the best interest of the child Teresa to be freed from the obviously unwholesome, not to say immoral influence, that the situation in which private respondent has placed herself, as admitted by her, might create in the moral and social outlook of Teresa who is now in her formative and most impressionable stage in her life. The fact that petitioner might have been tolerant about her stay with her mother in the past when she was still too young to distinguish between right and wrong and have her own correct impressions or notions about the unusual and peculiar relationship of her mother with her own uncle-in-law, the husband of her sister’s mother, is hardly of any consequence now that she has reached a perilous stage in her life.

Under the circumstances thus shown in the record, the Court finds no alternative than to grant private respondent no more than visitorial rights over the child in question. Anyway, decisions even of this Supreme Court on the custody of minor children are always open to adjustment as the circumstances relevant to the matter may demand in the light of the inflexible criterion.

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