Del Rosario: Can a father compel his illegitimate child to use his surname?

A FATHER, who wanted his illegitimate children to use his surname, filed a petition in court to change the surname of his minor illegitimate children. However, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no legal basis for the change of the surname of the children.

Republic Act 9255 provides that, “illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father.”

Based on the law, the general rule is that illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother. However, as an exception, the illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if they are expressly recognized by their father.

While the father in this case expressly recognized his illegitimate children, the law clearly grants the children the right to decide if they want to use the surname of their father. The law uses the word “may” which means that illegitimate children cannot be compelled to use the surname of their father. (Grande vs. Antonio, G.R. 206248 [2014])

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