Changing the surname of a child


Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I have a 15-year-old daughter, born out of wedlock on January 22, 2002. She was named after me and not her father. Her father and I subsequently married in May 2002, but we got separated a year after. After a few years, we reconciled and now we have three children. I wish to remedy my daughter’s birth certificate so that she could be named after her father, who is now my husband.
Sincerely yours,

Dear Jennifer,

Although you failed to mention if there was no legal impediment when you and your husband had your daughter, we are assuming that there is none. As such, Article 177 of the Family Code of the Philippines on legitimation governs your daughter’s situation. Article 177, as amended, provides:

“Children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, or were so disqualified only because either or both of them were below 18 years of age, may be legitimated.”

Under the law, “[l]egitimated children shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children” (Article 170, Family Code of the Philippines). One of these rights is “to bear the surname of the father and the mother.” (Article 174 (1), Id.)
Legitimation is a remedy by means of which those who in fact were not born in wedlock and should, therefore, be considered illegitimate, are, by fiction, considered legitimate, it being supposed that they were born when their parents were already validly married (1 Manresa 550, as cited on p. 251, Handbook on Family Code of the Philippines, Alicia V. Sempio-Diy).

The original family name of the child as appearing in the Registrar of Births shall not be erased or deleted, but in the remarks space shall be written “Legitimated by Subsequent Marriage” indicating the family name which the child shall bear by virtue of the legitimation also giving reference to the entry number in the Registrar of Legal Instruments.

The following are the application requirements:

“1. Secure the following documents from the City/Municipal Civil Registrar’s Office (C/MCR) where the birth of the child was recorded:

a. Affidavit of paternity/acknowledgement (certified photocopy/xerox copy)

b. Joint affidavit of legitimation

c. Certification of registration of legal instrument (Affidavit of Legitimation)

d. Certified true copy of birth certificate with remarks/annotation based on the legitimation by subsequent marriage.

“2. Verify the original birth certificate at the National Statistics Office (NSO). If negative result, secure it from C/MCR Office where the child was originally registered (certified photocopy).

“3. Verify the marriage contract of parents at NSO. If negative result, secure it from C/MCR Office where the marriage was solemnized (certified true copy).”

You may check the said requirements from the website of the Philippine Statistics Authority, known then as the National Statistics Office, and specifically from this link,

As to the change of your daughter’s status from illegitimate to legitimate, it will no longer go through court, as this can be done through administrative proceedings with the Civil Registry Office. You do not need a lawyer for this process. You will need, however, to have her affidavit of legitimation notarized.

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


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