Parenting alongside your spouse is hard enough, let alone doing it solo. Yet for an increasing number of people in the world and in this country, that’s an inescapable reality.
Thankfully, by virtue of Republic Act No. 8972, the state is duty-bound to provide a comprehensive program of services, benefits, and privileges for solo parents and their children. Under this law, which is also sometimes referred to as the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, any of the following would qualify as a single parent:
- A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity even without a final conviction of the offender, provided that the mother keeps and raises the child;
- A parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to the following circumstances:
- The death of a spouse;
- The spouse is detained or is serving a sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
- The physical and/or mental incapacity of a spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
- Legal separation or de facto separation from a spouse for at least one (1) year, as long as s/he is entrusted with the custody of the children;
- Declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as s/he is entrusted with the custody of the children.
- An unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear her/his child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution;
- Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children;
- Any family member who assumes the responsibility as the head of the family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or the solo parent.
Single parents are entitled to three primary benefits under RA 8972:
- Work Schedule Flexibility.This varies from employer to employer, but solo parents have a lawful right to request adjustments in their work schedule so that they can also attend to their children’s needs.
And although the violation of such would be challenging to prove, the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act also prohibits workplace discrimination against single parents on account of their status.
- Parental Leave.Each single parent may avail of an additional seven (7) days of work leaves each year. These, however, are non-cumulative, cannot be converted to cash, and may only be availed if the beneficiary has been with his/her employer for at least one (1) year.
These leaves also only apply in the face of pressing parental obligations, such as attending a child’s milestones (birthday, graduation, etc.), enrollment and attendance in school programs, and seeing to the offspring’s medical, social, spiritual, or recreational needs.
- Additional support and assistance, if applicable.Single parents whose income falls below the poverty threshold are entitled to educational, housing, and medical assistance from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Housing Authority (NHA), and the Department of Health (DOH), respectively.
To avail of the aforementioned benefits, single parents must apply for a solo parent ID by submitting the following requirements to their city or province’s social welfare and development office:
- Correctly filled-up Solo Parent ID application form.This form is available at the social welfare and development office, but you can also download a copy here.
- Birth certificate/s of your child/children.These should be NSO-certified and should serve as proof of parentage.
- Proof of financial status.A copy of your income tax return (ITR) statement from your company’s Human Resource Department or from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) or any other legal document recognized by the department of social welfare and development (DSWD) for validating your income will do.
- Supporting documents or certificates.Your spouse’s death certificate, medical certificates of your spouse’s physical or mental incapacity, as well as a declaration of the nullity of marriage can all attest to a solo parent’s status.
- Barangay certificate.This certifies that you have resided in your barangay for at least six (6) months.
Do note that it takes about thirty (30) days to process applications for a solo parent ID, but there are no accompanying fees and your ID should last you one (1) year.
Each single parent has a story to tell, be it a failed marriage, the death of a spouse, or in some cases, youthful experimentation gone wrong. What they all have in common, however, is that they still choose to press on despite the uphill climb that is solo parenting and thus, could use any help they can get.