Espiritu vs. CA
GR 115640, March 15, 1995
Reynaldo Espiritu and Teresita Masanding began to maintain a common law relationship of husband while in US. Teresita works as a nurse while Reynaldo was sent by his empolyer, National Steel Corporation, to Pittsburgh for a temporary post. They begot a child in 1986 named Rosalind. After a year, they went back to the Philippines for a brief vacation when they also got married. Subsequently, they had a second child named Reginald. In 1990, they decided to separate. Reynaldo pleaded for second chance but instead of Teresita granting it, she left Reynaldo and the children and went back to California. Reynaldo brought the children in the Philippines and left them with his sister. When Teresita returned in the Philippines sometime in 1992, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus against Reynaldo and his sister to gain custody of the children.
ISSUE: WON the custody of the 2 children should be awarded to the mother.
In cases of care, custody, education and property of children, the latter’s welfare shall be the paramount concern and that even a child under 7 years of age may be ordered to be separated from the mother for compelling reasons. The presumption that the mother is the best custodian for a child under seven years of age is strong but not conclusive. At the time the judgment was rendered, the 2 children were both over 7 years of age. The choice of the child to whom she preferred to stay must be considered. It is evident in the records submitted that Rosalind chose to stay with his father/aunt. She was found of suffering from emotional shock caused by her mother’s infidelity. Furthermore, there was nothing in the records to show that Reynaldo is unfit well in fact he has been trying his best to give the children the kind of attention and care which their mother is not in the position to extend. On the other hand, the mother’s conviction for the crime of bigamy and her illicit relationship had already caused emotional disturbances and personality conflicts at least with the daughter.
Hence, petition was granted. Custody of the minors was reinstated to their father.