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Legal Information: Puerto Rico

Custody

Updated: 
January 13, 2021

Who has legal custody (patria protested) when there is no court order?

Generally, if there is no court order, parents have legal custody or “patria potestad” jointly. However, only one of the parents may have legal custody rights if:

  1. only one of the parents has legally recognized or adopted the child;
  2. the other parent has passed away, is presumed dead, is absent, or is legally incapacitated; or
  3. the court has legally taken away custody rights from the other parent.1

Legal custody can also be temporarily suspended due to:

  1. a judicial declaration of absence or incapacitation of one of the parents;
  2. a temporary illness that affects the parent’s ability to effectively carry out his/her rights and responsibilities towards the child;
  3. a temporary jail stay for a criminal conviction, such as the ones listed in Can legal custody (patria potestad) be taken away from one of the parents?; or
  4. any other reason that could harm the child’s physical or emotional wellbeing.2

1 Art. 597, 2020 Puerto Rico Civil Code
2 Art. 611, 2020 Puerto Rico Civil Code