Sunday, February 04, 2007

Family Code of the Philippines: Primer on legitimation

Article 177 Family Code amended by RA 9858

Republic Act No. 9858 “Legitimation of Children Born to Minor Parents”
amended Article 177 of the Family Code as of December 20, 2009. The article now reads:
“Children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, or were so disqualified only because either or both of them were below eighteen (18) years of age, may be legitimated.”
In simple terms, a child conceived or born when either or both parents were below 18 can now be legitimated. Minority is no longer an impediment or legal obstacle. (Previously, biological parents who were below 18 could not avail of legitimation for their child. Their legal remedy was to go through an expensive adoption process.)

Articles 177 up to 182 of the Family Code are the rules in the legitimation of children born outside of wedlock but whose biological parents eventually enter into a valid marriage.

Who can be legitimated?

Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.

How does legitimation take place?

Legitimation takes place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage does not affect the legitimation.

What are the effects of legitimation?

[1] Legitimated children enjoy the same rights as legitimate children.

[2] The effects of legitimation retroact to the time of the child's birth.

[3] The legitimation of children who died before the celebration of the marriage benefit their descendants.

Who can impugn or question a child’s legitimation?

Legitimation may be questioned only by those who are prejudiced in their rights, within five years from the time their cause of action accrues.

Legal impediments or obstacles to legitimation

As it now stands, Article 177 states: “Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.” This means that if at the time of the child’s conception, there is a legal impediment to the marriage of the biological parents, the child cannot be legitimated under Article 177.

For example, if any of the biological parents was validly married to another person at the time of the conception of the child in question, the child cannot be legitimated.