• According to the Law: Changing a Minor's Surname

    Under what conditions can a mother have his child's surname changed?
    by Atty. Nikki Jimeno .
  • mom and sonQ:
    Dear Smart Parenting,
     
    I would like to seek legal advice regarding my son. I got pregnant four years ago but my long term boyfriend and I did not marry. Nonetheless, he signed the Affidavit of Acknowledgement / Admission of Paternity, thus, my son has used the surname of his father ever since.
     
    I would now like my son to use my surname instead. What legal steps should I make? Do I need to make an affidavit?
     
    Best Regards,
    Aubrey

    A:
    Hello Aubrey! While it is possible to change the surname of your son, it is a long and tedious process, and will take more than a simple affidavit. Under Article 376 of the Civil Code, “No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.” Thus, you will need to file a petition in court in order to change your son’s surname.

    Please take note that courts tend to be very strict when it comes to the change of surnames. In a 2011 case, the Supreme Court discussed some of the reasons a change of name may be granted, such as:

    a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
    b) when the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation;
    c) when the change will avoid confusion;
    d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage;
    e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and
    f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose, or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.

    In your case, you will have to prove that you are seeking the change of your son’s name for reasons falling under those provided, or for similar purposes. Maybe you want to change your son’s surname to yours because it causes confusion and embarrassment when you have to explain to people why you bear a different surname from your son? Just make sure that your reasons are justifiable and valid, and that it is absolutely necessary. Also, you will need to inform your son’s father of the petition for the change of name. If he opposes, you will have a harder time getting your son’s surname changed.

    A final word: Courts tend to disfavor petitions for change of name made by a parent in behalf of a minor child, because the minor has no choice in the matter. As the Supreme Court explained: “…‘the child should, and in the course of time must, know of his parentage.’ If, when he fully appreciates the circumstances and is capable of selecting a name for himself, he wants to use his mother's surname only and to avoid using his father's surname, then he should be the one to apply for a change of surname.”

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    Atty. Nikki Jimeno

    Got legal questions? Send us an email at webmaster@smartparenting.com.ph.

     

    Photo by >Shannon< from flickr creative commons

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