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  • According to the Law: Changing a Minor's First Name

    The good news is, changing a person's first name isn't as difficult as changing a surname.
    by Atty. Nikki Jimeno .
According to the Law: Changing a Minor's First Name
PHOTO BY Pexels
  • Q:

    Dear Smart Parenting, 

    I gave birth to my son just two months ago and gave him his Muslim father's first name. After a few months, my boyfriend and I had a big argument and I never saw him again. 

    I was advised by my friends and relatives that I should change my son's first name in his birth certificate since it might harbor prejudice in the future, so now I’d like to change it to a Christian/ Filipino name. What would that entail? I hope it won't be too difficult since my son is just two months old and he has no other documents yet with his name on them.

    Thanks,

    What’s-in-a-name

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    A:

    Hi there, What’s-in-a-name! The good news is, getting a first name changed is not as difficult as changing a surname. Republic Act No. 9048, enacted in May of 2001, allows the changing of a first name without having to go to court.

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    Under this law, any person interested in the change or correction of a first name in an entry may file a petition directly with the Local or Municipal Civil Registrar where the record sought to be changed is kept. This law also covers corrections of clerical or typographical errors made in a first name - for example, if your name is really spelled “Joanna” but you discover later on that your name is indicated as “Johanna” in your birth certificate, then this law allows you to change it without having to go to court. 

    When the change of the first name is not to correct a mere typographical error, but rather to completely change the name, this law still applies. However, the complete change of the first name must be due to any of the following grounds:

    1. The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;

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    2. The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or

    3. The change will avoid confusion.

    In your case, you can allege that you are filing the petition on behalf of your son to avoid confusion, and to save your son from the dishonor and embarrassment of being named after a father who abandoned him in his infancy.

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    That said, all you have to do is file a verified petition with the Local or Municipal Civil Registrar where you registered your son’s birth certificate, asking to change his first name. You will also need to submit the following supporting documents together with the petition: 

    1. A certified true copy of the certificate or of the page of the registry book containing the entry or entries sought to be corrected or changed; 

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    2. At least two (2) public or private documents showing the correct entry or entries upon which the correction or change shall be based; and 

    3. Other documents you or the city or municipal civil registrar may consider relevant and necessary for the approval of the petition. 

    Also, because it’s for a change of first name, your petition will have to be published at least once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation, and posted in a conspicuous place provided for that purpose for ten (10) consecutive days.

    Usually, they also require that the person whose name is being changed present a certification from the appropriate law enforcement agencies that he has no pending case or no criminal record. The purpose of the publication and the certification is to make sure that the petitioner is not having his name changed in order to hide from creditors or to escape the law. But because your son is only two months old, this may not be necessary. 

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    Once your petition for the change of your son’s name is granted, the change shall be reflected in the birth certificate by way of marginal annotation. Good luck to you!

    Atty. Nikki Jimeno

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

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