Petitioning court to change child’s surname
"I would like to ask if there is any probability that I can change the surname of my daughter to that of mine. She was born through a CS delivery and at the time her birth certificate was being processed, I was not informed that they asked the father if he will allow our daughter to use his surname, to which he acceded. So now, my daughter is carrying her father’s last name. We are not married and there are no legal ties between us. Now, I have plans of going to Australia and I am not sure if the Australian immigration/embassy will allow me to bring my daughter along as she is not carrying my surname. I’m really hoping, Ma’am, that you will help me with my inquiry. And if ever there is a way to do this, may I know the procedure?
Dear Hopeful Mom,Under the law, “(n)o person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.” (Article 376, Civil Code of the Philippines) Thus, if you desire to change the surname of your daughter from that of the father to yours, you must file the appropriate petition before the court. It will be the court who shall decide whether or not the ground you have alleged in your petition is sufficient to warrant the change you seek.
In the case of In Re: Petition for Change of Name and/or Correction of Entry in the Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang (G.R. No. 159966, March 30, 2005, 454 SCRA 155), the Supreme Court laid down some of the recognized grounds for the grant of a petition for change of name as follows: “(t)he touchstone for the grant of a change of name is that there be ‘proper and reasonable cause for which the change is sought. To justify a request for change of name, petitioner must show not only some proper or compelling reason therefore but also that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. Among the grounds for change of name which have been held valid are: (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce (b) when the change results as a legal consequence, as in 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 aware of alien parentage (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs to 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 desired change of name would prejudice public interest.”Furthermore, the courts usually frown upon and do not allow parents, who act in behalf of their minor children, to petition for the change of name of the latter for being premature unless there is a compelling reason therefor, such as those enumerated above. The Supreme Court explained the reason in this wise:
“(a)nother factor to be reckoned with is the fact that the child concerned is still a minor who for the present cannot fathom what would be his feeling when he comes to mature age. Any way, if the time comes, he may decide the matter for himself and take such action as our law may permit” (Republic of the Philippines versus Hon. Pio R. Marcos, et.al., G.R. No. L-31065, February 15, 1990 citing Moore versus Republic, 8 SCRA 282).The court does not want the parents to prematurely arrogate upon themselves the decision of their child regarding the name he/she wants to use. After all, as it is the child who will use that name and no other, then the decision to change or retain it, as the case may be, should be his alone.Finally, under Republic Act 9255, an illegitimate child who has been recognized by his/her father may carry the latter’s surname. This is the right of your child and it appears that this right has been exercised in her behalf, having been registered using her father’s surname. The fact that your child carries the surname of her father is appropriate evidence to prove her filiation or relationship to the father. Thus, your desire to change the surname of your child will be tantamount to depriving your child of the rights accorded to her by law. Even if you do not seek financial support from the father of your child, she is still entitled to receive support from the father and is likewise entitled to inherit from the latter, a legitime which shall be one-half (1/2) of the legitime of a legitimate child (Article 176, Family Code).Moreover, having voluntarily recognized your daughter as his own child, the father of your child may file his opposition/objection to the petition you wish to file in court (Section 4, Rule 103, Rules of Court). There is, therefore, that possibility that the court may deny your petition. It must always be remembered that the paramount consideration of the law is to protect and uphold the rights and interest of the child.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com."
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"Petitioning court to change child’s surname"
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and updated on 15 September 2021