Illegitimate child can use surname of mother as his middle name

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I had a son as a result of an adulterous relationship. My partner and I decided not to put my name in my son’s birth certificate so that my wife cannot use it against us. My wife passed away last year. My partner and I are still together, but we have no plans of getting married since we are already old. However, I am concerned about my son because the name of his father is empty in his birth certificate, and he is an illegitimate child. I am afraid that this might have a negative effect on him in the future. A friend recommended that I adopt my son to make him my legitimate child. However, since my wife already passed away, what middle name will my son use? Can my son use the surname of his mother as his middle name?
Daddy D

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Dear Daddy D,
The law is silent with regard to the use of a middle name. In fact, the concept of a middle name or the use of the mother’s surname is only used in Article 375(1) of the Civil Code to address situations wherein there is an identity of names and surnames between ascendants and descendants. Likewise, our adoption law is also silent with regard to the use of a middle name by the adoptee. Our Civil Code only states that “the adopted shall bear the surname of the adopters” (Article 365, Id.), but it does not state what middle name should be used by the adoptee.

Due to the absence of a law with regard to rules pertaining to the use of middle names, the Supreme Court in the case of In the Matter of the Adoption of Stephanie Naty Astorga Garcia(G. R. No. 148311, March 31, 2005, Ponente: Honorable former Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez) looked into the discussions of the committee that drafted the Family Code in determining whether an illegitimate child, upon adoption of her natural father, use the surname of her natural mother as her middle name. In this case, the Supreme Court concluded that:

“Being a legitimate child by virtue of her adoption, it follows that Stephanie is entitled to all the rights provided by law to a legitimate child without discrimination of any kind, including the right to bear the surname of her father and her mother, as discussed above. This is consistent with the intention of the members of the Civil Code and Family Law Committees as earlier discussed. In fact, it is a Filipino custom that the initial or surname of the mother should immediately precede the surname of the father.

Additionally, as aptly stated by both parties, Stephanie’s continued use of her mother’s surname (Garcia) as her middle name will maintain her maternal lineage. It is to be noted that Article 189(3) of the Family Code and Section 18, Article V of RA 8552 (law on adoption) provide that the adoptee remains an intestate heir of his/her biological parent. Hence, Stephanie can well assert or claim her hereditary rights from her natural mother in the future.”

Thus, as a legitimate child by virtue of an adoption, your son will be entitled to all the rights of a legitimate child, including the right to bear the surname of his father and mother. As it is customary to use the initial or surname of the mother as a middle name, your son is also granted this right. Therefore, your son can use the surname of his mother as his middle name.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net.

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