In the Dominican Republic, Parental Authority is a term used very commonly.
Parental Authority is a set of rights recognized by the law, for parents over children under their care, to facilitate the fulfillment of the duties imposed on them as parents.
The description above is the general concept established in various countries and legislations. Some examples of these countries are Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic, although it might be called differently depending on the country. The Minor Code No. 136 from 2013 , in its article No. 67 states the following:
“Parental authority is a set of duties and rights that pertain equally to the father and the mother, with respect to children who have not reached legal age”
There is a lot of confusion when trying to determine the figure that applies in our country regarding this topic, or if it exists in our legislation. As a result, we will be providing information to hopefully clear any of the doubts caused by the fact that Parental Authority has different names depending on the country. It can be pretty confusing when parents want to conduct a Consular process or when children reside in the country (even if they have a different nationality).
In conclusion, Parental Authority is referred to by a variety of different names, however for practical purposes, it has the same concept and use.
It should be noted that the loss or suspension of parental authority, is totally different from the process of loss of custody of a minor by one of the parents in the Dominican Republic.
These proceedings are totally different, both in concept and nature, because their purpose and guidelines are different, additionally, the supporting documents they require vary widely.
When it comes to Custody, both parents maintain their rights over the child, what changes is that one of them will be caring for the child, for various reasons. The Loss of Parental Authority occurs when the father does not have any contact with the child, and does not have rights over said child.
Seeing as one of the parents can lose their rights and their Parental Authority over their underage children, the Code of Minors in the Dominican Republic is clear and precise regarding this topic. However, because it is NOT used often, it is presumed that it does not exist, but it does. Additionally, in the cases in which Parental Authority applies, it is an extremely useful figure.
Everything that regulates the Code of Minors is for the benefit of children and adolescents, regardless of:
The care and well-being of underage children and adolescents in the Dominican Republic and the world is of public order, that is, the state foresees and seeks tools to ensure that their rights and well-being prevail.
There are specific grounds for the request and approval. These grounds are as follows:
As mentioned above, the Loss of Parental Authority, can be Temporary or Definitive, in each case, it would be determined by the Code of Minors.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR A TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF THE AUTHORITY OF A PARENT? The authority of a father or mother may be temporarily suspended in the following cases:
A) In the event of omission, negligence or unjustifiable failure to fulfill their duties, when they have the necessary means to fulfill them.
B) When a parent deliberately or by omission threatens or infringes the rights of the child or adolescent, and puts their security and overall well-being at risk, as ascertained by the competent judge, even as a result of a disciplinary measure.
C) Declaration of absence.
D) Being placed under legal guardianship of an adult.
E) Civil or judicial interdiction.
A Declaration of Absence , while referring to a person who is missing, is used very often because it is very common for one of the parents to be missing.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION BY JUDICIAL DECISION? Parental authority of the mother or father may be terminated definitively in the following cases:
A) If the father, mother or person responsible (de facto or de jure), has been found by a court to be the material or intellectual perpetrator or accomplice of criminal acts or offences against the child or against the other spouse or partner.
B) If the mother, father or person responsible fails to fulfill the obligations established by the competent judge, in the course of proceedings for the temporary suspension of authority.
C) If they are material or intellectual perpetrators or accomplices in offences or criminal acts committed jointly with children or adolescents.
D) If they have perpetrated offences referred to in Act No. 24-97, concerning domestic violence.
CASES IN WHICH IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO HAVE THE FIGURE, IN THE EVENT THAT ONE OF THE PARENTS IS MISSING
1- When a passport renewal is required, many consulates and embassies do not accept the Custody ruling to grant said renewal. Instead, it is required for both parents to be present or to have a sentence granting full Parental Authority.
2- Signature or representation in contracts related to the minor, for its validity.
The interested party can submit a request to have the temporary suspension lifted, as long as the factors that caused the suspension of the Parental Authority cease to exist.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF REMOVING PARENTAL AUTHORITY? The purpose of removing Parental Authority is to protect the physical, moral and mental well-being of the child. The rights of an individual, in this case of a Minor, should never be violated and when the figure takes place, it is triggered by a violation or damage to their rights.
Parents, representatives and responsible parties have an obligation, within their possibilities and financial means, to guarantee the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of children and adolescents; when that obligation is not honored, this figure comes into play.
The matter of Children and Adolescents is extremely sensitive and has a high emotional burden for the parties, parents, judge, lawyer and especially the minor. Being in a situation in which you are considering requesting to have the Parental Authority removed from a parent, is very sensitive, however, the causal factors that create these situations are just as sensitive. This figure exists for corrective purposes and is fully necessary in our society. One example of the causes is “Domestic Violence”.
WHO CAN REQUEST THE SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION OF PARENTAL AUTHORITY?
A) The interested child or adolescent, taking into account his or her age and degree of maturity.
B) The mother, father, responsible party, forebear or relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity.
C) The Public Prosecutor’s Office for children and adolescents.
D) The National Council for Children and Adolescents (known in Spanish as CONANI).
WHICH COURT HAS JURISDICTION IN THESE PROCEEDINGS?
It will be pronounced by the office of Children and Adolescents with jurisdiction in civil powers, following an adversarial procedure and taking into account the best interests of the child or adolescent, in all cases of:
A) Suspension of parental authority
B) Loss of parental authority
C) Reinstatement of parental authority
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL AUTHORITY ?
1- If the termination occurs with respect to both parents, they will be able to do the following:
A) Be subject of custody and adoption
B) Parental authority may be assumed by forebears, siblings of legal age, uncles, aunts and in rare cases by the State.
2- If the termination occurs with respect to one of the parents, the other parent will be granted the parental authority by right.
At our law firm Morillo Suriel – Attorneys at Law, we have a division specialized in Family Law, with a subdivision specialized in Children and adolescents. Through that division, we can assist you with any questions or concerns you may have in this matter.