Surname Legalities for Married Women

After saying "I do," find out if you can continue using your maiden name and know other legalities in the use of surnames.


There has been an evolution in the women’s use of surnames. Early on, women assumed their husband’s surnames upon marriage and totally omitted their maiden names. Most women used their maiden names hyphenated with the surnames of their husbands. Today, a number of women retain their maiden names and omit the surnames of their husbands.  


These changes in the use of surnames may be signs of the times that women empowerment is rising. There is now an assertion by women to have an identity separate, distinct, and independent from that of their husbands.



But is the use of hyphenated surnames, the total omission of the husband’s surnames, and continued use of the women’s maiden names allowed under the law? 



See some common questions on the use of surnames for married women.



1. What is the law governing a married woman’s use of surnames?

Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides that a married woman may use the following:
a)    Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname (ex. Anna Santos-Cruz), or
b)    Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname (ex. Anna Cruz), or
c)    Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.” (ex. Mrs. Mark Cruz)


2. Does the woman need to apply or obtain permission before she can use the husband’s surname?


No, the woman does not need to apply or obtain permission. The law, Article 370 of the Civil Code, grants the woman the right to use the surname of the husband upon marriage. The law provides the married woman 3 options as to what form of surname she prefers to use.


3. Does the law prohibit the married woman from continuing to use her maiden name? 


No, there is no legal prohibition. Article 370 gave the married woman 3 options as to what name she will use upon marriage. However, there is nothing in the same law prohibiting a married woman from continuing to use her maiden name after marriage because, as the Supreme Court declared, “x x x when a woman marries, she does not change her name but only her civil status.” (Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202 [2010])


4. Is it obligatory under the law for the married woman to use the surname of the husband?


No, it is not obligatory at all for the married woman to use the surname of her husband. The Supreme Court had the opportunity to explain and rule on this issue. It clarified that the use of the word “may” in Article 370 of the Civil Code means that the wife may or may not use the husband’s surname. The Supreme Court clarified that a woman does not have a duty to use the surname of the husband. (Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202 [2010])




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