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Keeping Your Maiden Name After Marriage: Is It Legal?
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  • Filipino women automatically think that once they marry, she must change her last name to that of her husband’s. Not many women know it’s just one option.

    In the Philippines, the law does not compel a woman to adopt her husband’s last name after marriage. A Filipina who marries has options. Under Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, it states that a married woman may use:

    • Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or
    • Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or
    • Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is wife, such as “Mrs.”

    The third option is not so popular. But as explained by the Supreme Court, a woman is “allowed to use not only any of the three names provided in Article 370 but also her maiden name upon marriage.” She should not be prohibited to continue using her maiden name after she’s married and just change her marital status from single to married.

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    It’s your legal right to keep your maiden name after marriage

    Unfortunately, however, not many government offices, health establishments, and other institutions are aware of such provisions in the law. Some moms in our Facebook group Smart Parenting Village reveal they were forced to adopt their husband’s surname by circumstances. Sometimes, employees in government agencies automatically change a married woman’s last name to that of her husband’s in their records because she’s married.

    Lourisa Loren, for instance, wanted to keep her maiden name after marriage. But when she updated her civil status on her government identification documents, the staff automatically changed her last name to her husband’s last name.

    The Philippines is still not ready, says Aly T. Dela Cruz, and sees it as unusual when a woman declares her status as married but still has her maiden name written on her forms.

    If you want to add your husband as a dependent on your health maintenance organization (HMO), you have to update your last name to your husband’s last name, even if it’s declared on the marriage certificate that you are married. It is the same thing with banks, which have a lot of questions if you indicate that your civil status as married, but your last name is still your maiden name.

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    Just in 2016, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) issued a memorandum, reiterating that women are allowed to retain and use their maiden name instead of their husband’s surname due to several complaints they’ve received about the discriminatory policies of several institutions. These complaints include requiring a married woman to use her husband’s surname in accomplishing application forms and other records and refusals to process legitimate transactions with married women using their maiden name.

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    Why some women keep their maiden name after marriage

    While the typical choice is to use the husband’s surname, many married women have various personal reasons to keep their maiden names.

    For Atty. Angel Calalang-Dy, she did a hyphenated surname because many of her clients know her as Atty. Calalang, and they still refer to her with that name. She decided to keep her maiden name but attached her husband’s (who is also a lawyer) last name to avoid confusion.

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    For Rj Bataan, who changed her civil status from single to married, the decision to keep her maiden name was personal because all of her siblings are girls. No one would carry their father’s last name, and in fact, all of her father’s siblings were girls as well.

    Keeping her maiden name was in light of cultural mores in Karen Prado’s case. In Malaysia, where her husband is from, it was not customary to let the wife change to her husband’s last name. She was told that it would appear like she and her husband are siblings if she acquired her husband’s last name.

    In the Middle East, changing a person’s last name is a tedious process. Jennie Magpayo shares that you need to announce and publish the change of your last name in a newspaper. Also, the immigration paperwork and approvals take a really long time, so Jennie decided to keep her maiden name to avoid the hassle.

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    Most women opt to use their maiden name because of the forms required when you use your husband's name. In the Philippines, the National ID is set to be implemented in mid-2020. As of this time, everyone has to go through updating the records individually with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig, and more.

    Hopefully, once the Philippine National ID system is implemented next year, updating government records and deciding to keep your maiden name for whichever reason won’t be an issue for married women anymore.

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