In the Philippines, legitimate children are required to use the mother’s maiden last name as their middle name, and the father’s last name as their last name. Legitimate children are those who were conceived or born during the marriage of their parents (Section 164, Family Code).

However, there are instances where the father abandons his legitimate child causing the mother to unilaterally drop the last name of the father and let the child use the last name of the mother instead. Later, the child will encounter problems as his/her last name appearing in his/her school records and official documents is different to that of officially registered in his birth certificate. In this case, the child has no other recourse but to file a petition in court to legally remove the last name of his father.

In the case of Alanis III v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216425, November 11, 2020, the Supreme Court held that a legitimate child may legally use his/her mother’s surname as his/her own surname. The decision is based on the provisions of Article 174 of the Family Code and Article 364 of the Civil Code.

Article 174 of the Family Code provides that:

ARTICLE 174. Legitimate children shall have the right:

(1) To bear the surnames of the father and the mother, in conformity with the provisions of the Civil Code on Surnames[.]

Moreover, Article 364 of the Civil Code states that:

ARTICLE 364. Legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father.

Citing said provisions, the Supreme Court held that the trial court “gravely erred when it held that legitimate children cannot use their mothers’ surnames.” The Court ruled further that “[t]he Regional Trial Court’s application of Article 364 of the Civil Code is incorrect. Indeed, the provision states that legitimate children shall ‘principally’ use the surname of the father, but ‘principally’ does not mean ‘exclusively.’”

Clearly, a legitimate child may use the surname of his/her mother by filing a petition to change his/her name before the proper Regional Trial Court. This is allowed by law as explained by the Supreme Court in the case of Alanis.

If you need help in the preparation of your petition for change of name to remove the last name of the father in Pampanga, Tarlac, or any nearby provinces, you can contact the lawyers at Sanchez and Cunanan Law Offices through, or at (+63)927 423-1703 or (+63)949 717-9229.