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Legal Information: Puerto Rico

Custody

Updated: 
January 13, 2021

How will a judge make a decision about custody and legal custody (patria protested)?

The public policy of Puerto Rico is to promote, as a first option, joint custody so that both parents are responsible for the child as long as it is in the best interests of the child.1 However, the judge could make a different decision regarding physical and legal custody based on what s/he believes is in the best interests of the child. The judge will consider any factor that s/he considers important to make a decision, including:

  1. the mental health of both parents and of the child;
  2. the level of responsibility or moral integrity of each parent;
  3. if there has been a history of domestic violence;
  4. the parents’ ability to fulfill the child’s emotional, moral, and financial current and future needs;
  5. the relationship of each parent with the child before and after the separation or divorce;
  6. the specific needs of each child;
  7. the relationship of the child with his/her parents, siblings, and other members of the family;
  8. the ability, availability, and commitment of the parents to raise the child jointly;
  9. the reasons that the parent or parents are requesting shared legal and/or physical custody;
  10. if the parents’ employment does or does not hinder shared custody;
  11. if the location and distance between the parents’ homes can hinder the child’s education;
  12. the communication between the parents and the ability to communicate directly or through other mechanisms; and
  13. any other criteria that could be considered to guarantee a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.2

The judge will also analyze if there’s “parental alienation” or any other reasons that are causing the child to resist having a relationship with his/her parents.3

1 32 L.P.R.A. § 3181
2 Art. 604, 2020 Puerto Rico Civil Code
3 32 L.P.R.A. § 3185