Married woman not compelled to use husband’s surname

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I’m using my maiden name on my passport but I’m married. I don’t want to use the surname of my husband. Is this ok?

Dear Mariz,
Article 370 of our Civil Code governs the use of surname by a married woman. It states:

“A married woman may use:

(1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or

(2) Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname or

(3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”

Please note that the law uses “may” which generally denote that the provision is merely directory. It connotes a permissible thing, and operates to confer discretion. (Statutory Construction, Aquino, p. 88) Hence, it is completely up to the wife whether she will use the surname of her husband or not.

In effect, a married woman has four (4) options. She has the option to either adopt his husband’s surname using any of the three (3) forms mentioned in Article 370 of the Civil Code, or completely disregard the said article and retain her maiden name. The example given by Professor Melencio Sta. Maria in his book captures the gist of this rule, to wit: “Thus, Corazon Cojuangco married to Benigno Aquino, Jr. may use either Corazon Cojuangco, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, Corazon Aquino or Mrs. Benigno Aquino, Jr.” (Persons and Family Relations Law, Melencio Sta. Maria, p. 898)

Therefore, you are not compelled to adopt the surname of your husband. You are completely allowed under the law to retain your maiden name even after marriage. Nevertheless, caution should be given that information concerning your civil status should be correctly given. Your marital status should be disclosed whenever required. Concealment of marital status, especially in documents, may constitute a crime, i.e. falsification, depending on the nature and circumstances of the case.

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.


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