I am a single parent and I have questions concerning the legal name of my daughter. The first relates to her middle name. In the birth certificate of my child, I erroneously wrote my middle name as her middle name. I thought that as an illegitimate child, my daughter should adopt my middle name and surname. How can I correct my mistake?
The second question relates to her surname. The father of my daughter never acknowledged her so she is using my surname. Now, I am in a relationship with another man and we plan to settle down soon. Is it possible to let my daughter use his surname instead, and then adopt my surname as her middle name?
It is a mistake to let an illegitimate child use the middle name of her mother as his own middle name. While it is true that our laws are silent with respect to middle names of illegitimate children, our Filipino custom or tradition is to add the surname of the child’s mother as the child’s middle name (In the Matter of the Adoption of Stephanie Nathy Astorga Garcia, 454 SCRA 541). Further, no less than our Supreme Court ruled in one case that an illegitimate child who is not recognized by the father bears only a given name and his mother’ surname, and does not have a middle name (Philippines vs. Capote, 514 SCRA 76). Applying the foregoing to your case and considering that you mentioned that your daughter was not recognized by her father, she should not have a middle name. Thus, her birth certificate should be corrected by deleting the entry on the middle name line.
To rectify the mistake, you may file a verified petition in court to correct the birth certificate of your child in accordance with Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The said Rule covers cases which involves cancellation or correction of entries in the civil register relating to birth, marriages and deaths, among others which may not be administratively corrected under Republic Act No. 9048 as amended by Republic Act No. 10172.
Going to your second question about the possibility of letting your daughter use the surname of your present boyfriend and then use your surname as her middle name, the same may only be possible if you and your boyfriend get married and then adopt your child.
Through adoption, a relationship of parent and child is created between persons who are not generally related by nature (Persons and Family Relations Law, 4th ed., Sta. Maria, Melencio, p. 624). It creates a parental tie between the adopter and the adoptee. But this does not mean that a biological parent cannot adopt his own child. Our law on adoption expressly allows the adoption of an illegitimate child for the purpose of improving or raising his status to that of legitimacy (Sec. 8 (c), Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8552).
Upon the adoption of your daughter, she shall be considered your and your husband’s legitimate child for all intents and purposes and as such entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to a legitimate child (Sec. 17, R.A. No. 8552). As we know, a legitimate child has the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother (Article 174, Family Code). Hence, your child will have the right to use the surname of your husband as her surname, and your surname as her middle name.
To realize your goal then, you and your boyfriend must marry first. After your marriage, you and your husband may jointly file a petition for adoption of your illegitimate daughter in order to create a parental tie between her and your husband as well as raise the status of your child to legitimate.
We hope the foregoing discussion shed light on the matter. Bear in mind that our opinion is based solely on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if actual facts and circumstances change.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org