Can parents legally sue their disobedient kids? Yes.


As parens patriae, the State has the inherent right and duty to aid parents in the moral development of their children,70 and, thus, assumes a supporting role for parents to fulfill their parental obligations. (Perlas-Bernabe, J. G.R. No. 225442, August 8, 2017.)

According to Article II of the 1987 Constitution, "The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government."

The provision above recognizes that the right to discipline children naturally and primarily belongs to their parents. However, since this right and duty "shall receive support" from the State, it is but reasonable for the Government to step in when there is need to do so. Such interference with parental roles and duties, of course, may occur when, among others, there has been neglect or abuse or when parents are unable to assert their parental authority over the child. In short, the Government may interfere with parent-and-child relations when the latter's behavior, e.g. disobedience, can no longer be controlled by the former.

Related to the above provision is Section 13 of Article II of the Constitution."The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs." This and other provisions recognize the principle of parents patriae.

Article 223 of the Family Code of the Philippines is the enabling law of the constitutional "support of the Government" to the right and duty of parents to rear the youth. Under said law, parents or, in their absence or incapacity, the individual, entity or institution exercising parental authority, may petition the proper court of the place where the child resides, for an order providing for disciplinary measures over the child. The child shall be entitled to the assistance of counsel, either of his choice or appointed by the court, and a summary hearing shall be conducted wherein the petitioner and the child shall be heard. However, if in the same proceeding the court finds the petitioner (parents or guardians) at fault, irrespective of the merits of the petition, or when the circumstances so warrant, the court may also order the deprivation or suspension of parental authority or adopt such other measures as it may deem just and proper.Article 223 is a perfect example of parens patriae. Parens patriae is Latin for "parent of the nation". In law, it refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child or individual who is in need of protection.

The doctrine of parens patriae is of Anglo-American, common law origin. It was understood to have "emanate[d] from the right of the Crown to protect those of its subjects who were unable to protect themselves." It was the King's "royal prerogative" to "take responsibility for those without capacity to look after themselves. " At its outset, parens patriae contemplated situations where vulnerable persons had no means to support or protect themselves. Given this, it was the duty of the State, as the ultimate guardian of the people, to safeguard its citizens' welfare. (Leonen, J. G.R. No. 225442, August 8, 2017.)

As parens patriae, the State has the inherent right and duty to aid parents in the moral development of their children,70 and, thus, assumes a supporting role for parents to fulfill their parental obligations. (Perlas-Bernabe, J. G.R. No. 225442, August 8, 2017.)

By virtue of Article 223, a parent or a guardian (or anyone having parental authority over the child) may go to court and to ask the judge to impose disciplinary measures over the child. It must be noted that the law does not specify what "disciplinary measures" should be imposed but it can be inferred that the court, acting as parens patriae, is allowed to reprimand the child, especially by way of warning.

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