My sis-in-law is an orphaned minor (13 years old), both of my parent-in-laws and grandparent-in-laws have passed away. We're trying to renew her passport so she can travel and visit us overseas but stumbled on a problem with one of the requirements regarding who can stand as the guardian. At the moment my eldest sis-in-law is the next in the hierarchy as per family code to take parental authority over her.
According to DFA's website:
Orphaned minor applicant:
- Authenticated Death Certificates of parents from PSA
- Court order awarding guardianship of the orphaned minor applicant or substitute parental authority under Article 214 & 216 of the Family Code
- DSWD Clearance
The second bullet requires either a court order or substitute parent authority, take note of the "OR". We are now confused if we really need a court order on this because we don't want to go through it if we don't have to. I read a little bit on the provisions of Family code, particularly Art 214 and 216. It says in Art 214 that the surviving grant parent will take authority as appointed by court, however this is not applicable as all grandparents as I mentioned have passed away. In Art 216, it states the hierarchy on who can exercises the parental authority and see that for (1), art 214 is referenced to say that a court order will decide on who among the surviving grandparents will take authority, but the same is not stated in (2) where my eldest sis-in-law falls under. Is it correct to interpret that no court order is necessary in this case?
Art. 214. In case of death, absence or unsuitability of the parents, substitute parental authority shall be exercised by the surviving grandparent. In case several survive, the one designated by the court, taking into account the same consideration mentioned in the preceding article, shall exercise the authority.
Art. 216. In default of parents or a judicially appointed guardian, the following person shall exercise substitute parental authority over the child in the order indicated:
(1) The surviving grandparent, as provided in Art. 214;
(2) The oldest brother or sister, over twenty-one years of age, unless unfit or disqualified; and
(3) The child's actual custodian, over twenty-one years of age, unless unfit or disqualified.
Whenever the appointment of a judicial guardian over the property of the child becomes necessary, the same order of preference shall be observed.
I was able to get hold of someone from legal in DFA and the guy I talked to mentioned that it will still require court order but also admitted he's not a family lawyer so I'm really hesitant to take his words for it. He also mentioned that there shouldn't be an OR in the requirements but again I'm quite hesitant on it.
I would really appreciate if anyone can provide the correct interpretation of this, we're willing to go through the court that's necessary but want to make sure that we will do it because we have no other choice.
Thanks in advance!