Just got married? Congratulations to the hubby and best wishes to the wifey! Welcome to the club!
Now listen… for us women, marriage entails a lot of changes. Just thinking about them right now, I don’t seem to know where to begin. But wait… One of the most obvious and common changes that us women go through, after marriage, is to change our surnames. Right?
Let me tell you this… Did you know that under our existing laws and jurisprudence, a married woman has the option (meaning, discretionary) to use her husband’s surname. Yes! That’s true.
Article 370 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines states that:
“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.’”
To illustrate, below are the options available to a married woman if she opts to use her husband’s surname:
Maiden name: JUANA A. DELA CRUZ
Husband’s name: JOSE S. RAMOS
(1) Juana A. Dela Cruz – Ramos
(2) Juana D. Ramos
(3) Mrs. Jose S. Ramos
In the case of Maria Virginia V. Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs (G.R. No. 169202, March 5, 2010), the Supreme Court explained:
“Clearly, a married woman has an option, but not a duty, to use the surname of the husband in any of the ways provided by Article 370 of the Civil Code. She is therefore allowed to use not only any of the three names provided in Article 370, but also her maiden name upon marriage. She is not prohibited from continuously using her maiden name once she is married because when a woman marries, she does not change her name but only her civil status. Further, this interpretation is in consonance with the principle that surnames indicate descent.”
The operative word here is “MAY”. This means that it is NOT mandatory for us women to change our name and use our husband’s surname after marriage. It really is a matter of personal choice.
What is equally important here is consistency. Once you have decided to use your husband’s surname by choosing any of the three options given above, you have to use it consistently. Once you have decided to use your husband’s surname, you cannot just go back to using your maiden name.
This is relevant when you transact with government agencies like applying or renewing your passport. You can only revert to using your maiden name in case of death of spouse, or if your marriage has been annulled by a competent court. If you want to know more information on this, please read this Supreme Court decision in full.
Do you know any married woman who kept her maiden name even after getting married? I do. These women should not be judged just because they decided NOT to use their husband’s surname. We all have different considerations, reasons and opinions on this matter.
So there you go, ladies! Remember, we always have OPTIONS. It pays to know your options. Weigh your options then make a decision. Once you have finally decided on what to do, stick to it! You are a strong woman, after all!
Hope that you have gained useful information from this post. Stay tuned for more! If you have any suggestions for my next topic, feel free to comment below.
This is Attorney Mommy, at your service!