“What the last name should a child use when the parents are unmarried?”
This is a common question particularly among single mothers for three different cases. First, this is asked by single moms who may have given their maiden last name to an illegitimate child but now wants the child to use the biological father’s last name.
Second, the mother may have given her maiden name to the illegitimate child but now wants the child to use the adoptive father’s last name. Or third, the illegitimate child may have been using the biological father’s last name but now the mother wants the child to use her maiden name instead.
So what should be the answer to that question? Well, let’s take a look at what the Family Code says about it.
Well, to begin with, Executive Order No. 209 (or Family Code of the Philippines) defines “illegitimate children” as those children who are conceived and born outside a valid marriage (Article 164). Under this order, it is said that illegitimate children should user the mother’s surname and be under her parental authority.
However, Article 176 was amended by virtue of Republic Act 9255 in 2004 and the new law now allows illegitimate children to use their biological father’s last name provided that the father acknowledges his paternity.
This means that with that amendment, single mothers and fathers now have the option of allowing the child to officially use the biological father’s last name in their birth certificates.
Now if an illegitimate child who uses his mother’s maiden last name and now wants to start using his father’s last name, he needs to execute a document, whether public or private, that states he is recognized by his father as his child. These documents can include the affidavit found at the back of the Certificate of Live Birth (COLB); a separate public document, handwritten and signed by the father, expressly recognizing the child as his, or a separate private handwritten instrument such as the Affidavit to Use the Surname of the Father (AUSF).
On the other hand, an illegitimate child who is carrying his mother’s maiden last name but now wants to use his adoptive father’s last name shall follow the process of legal adoption.
Meanwhile, in cases where a single mother wants to drop the last name of the illegitimate child’s biological father from the child’s birth certificate has to undergo a proper court hearing. As such, this could require a lot of time, effort, and money.
For more information about illegitimate children and last names, you may seek legal advice from lawyers or check out the official PSA website at http://www.psa.gov.ph.