Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Law does not require woman to use surname of husband

Dear PAO,
My husband and I are separated for ten years now. I wanted to use my maiden name in my passport but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) won’t allow me.
They told me to secure a court order annulling my marriage with my husband before I can use my maiden name again in my passport. Why do I have to do this?

Dear Agnes,
The usage of the surname of her husband by a woman who was once married is customary in our country. It may seem mandatory but the law does not require a woman to use her husband’s surname. In fact, the woman is given the freedom to choose whether or not to use her husband’s surname. This is clearly provided under Article 370 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, to wit:

“Art. 370. 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.”

Likewise, the abovementioned law does not mandate a woman to remain using her husband’s surname once she started using it. However, there are instances where she cannot revert to her maiden name. One of these instances is when the woman started using her husband’s name in applying for a passport. The passport law strictly prohibits a married woman from reverting to her maiden name unless she presents a document evidencing that her marriage to her husband has been annulled or declared null and void, a divorce has been decreed by a competent court abroad or her husband is already deceased. This is specifically provided by Republic Act 8239, or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996:

“Sec. 5. Requirements for the Issuance of Passport.—No passport shall be issued to an applicant unless the Secretary” (of the DFA) “or his duly authorized representative is satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has complied with the following requirements:


(d) In case of a woman who is married, separated, divorced or widowed or whose marriage has been annulled or declared by court as void, a copy of the certificate of marriage, court decree of separation, divorce or annulment or certificate of death of the deceased spouse duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General: Provided, That in case of a divorce decree, annulment or declaration of marriage as void, the woman applicant may revert to the use of her maiden name: Provided, further, That such divorce is recognized under existing laws of the Philippines;


Applying the foregoing to your situation, since you are still married to your husband, you are not yet allowed to use your maiden name in your passport.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter

source: Manila Times and Atty. Persida Acosta

1 comment:

  1. Sir,

    May i ask if these will be applicable to any sort of transaction or dealings, like for example, applying for a loan or credit card, opening a bank account??