When can an illegitimate child use a middle name?

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My boyfriend is an illegitimate child. It was never an issue with him because he has always had a fairly good life. Although he has never met his biological father, he told me that he never felt incomplete because his mother was always there for him and he always felt loved by his maternal family. It just occurred to him now that he is 32 years old that it is quite odd for him not to have a middle name when everyone else seems to have his/her middle name. This matter was raised as a sort of an issue when we were processing documents for our application for our respective passports as we planned to travel abroad this coming Christmas. He just wants to know if there is a way for him to have a middle name. It may sound silly, but the truth is that he just finds it weird that he does not have a middle name. Any advice you can give will be highly appreciated.
Margaux

Dear Margaux,
Under the law, legitimate children bear the surnames of their father and mother (Article 174 (1), Family Code of the Philippines). In contrast, however, illegitimate children are entitled to use the surname of their mother, save in cases where their filiation has been expressly recognized by their father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by their father, in which case they may use the surname of their father (Section 1, Republic Act [R.A.] No.
9255).

Applying the foregoing in the situation of your boyfriend, we submit that it is expected of him to use the surname of his mother given the fact that he is an illegitimate child. Corollary, he bears no middle name as the law only grants him the right to bear a surname, which is that of his mother, and no mention was made as to his middle name. Nevertheless, your boyfriend may opt to use the surname of his father provided that the latter has recognized their illegitimate filiation through your boyfriend’s record of birth as appearing in the civil register or when an admission of paternity is made by his father in a public document or private handwritten instrument. To be certain, Section 1 of R. A. No. 9255 provides:

“Article 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. x x x”


If your boyfriend has been recognized by his father in consonance with the abovementioned provision, he may then use his father’s surname as his surname and his mother’s surname as his middle name. But we wish to reiterate that, if there was no recognition made, he is only entitled to use his mother’s surname with the emphasis that he bears no middle name.

To further explain, we wish to quote the pertinent portion of the ruling of our Supreme Court in the case, In Re: Petition for Change of Name and/or Correction/Cancellation of Entry in Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang (G.R. No. 159966, March 30, 2005), as penned byHonorable former Associate Justice Dante O. Tinga”
“x x x The Family Code gives legitimate children the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother, while illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother, unless their father recognizes their filiation, in which case they may bear the father’s surname.

Applying these laws, an illegitimate child whose filiation is not recognized by the father bears only a given name and his mother’s surname, and does not have a middle name. The name of the unrecognized illegitimate child therefore identifies him as such. It is only when the illegitimate child is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents or acknowledged by the father in a public document or private handwritten instrument that he bears both his mother’s surname as his middle name and his father’s surname as his surname, reflecting his status as a legitimated child or an acknowledged illegitimate child. x x x” (Emphasis supplied)
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net.

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