Legal Information: Puerto Rico


December 20, 2022

Can legal custody (patria potestad) be taken away from one of the parents?

A parent could temporarily or permanently1 lose legal custody of his/her child based on a number of circumstances, including:

  • abandoning the child without a good reason to do so (“just cause”);
  • putting the child at risk of emotional, mental, and physical harm or letting someone else inflict that harm on the child; or
  • a criminal conviction for certain crimes, including:
    • child abuse;
    • not paying child support;
    • domestic violence;
    • sexual assault;
    • kidnapping; and
    • illegal restriction of custody rights; and
  • any of the additional reasons listed in Article 615 of the law.2

Note: A parent shouldn’t lose legal custody for being abused by the other parent unless the judge finds that the abused parent voluntarily and knowingly participated in child abuse or neglect.3

1 31 L.P.R.A. §§ 7313 & 7324
2 31 L.P.R.A. § 7322
3 31 L.P.R.A. § 7323

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