An illegitimate child (born outside of a valid wedlock), prior to the enactment of the new law, may only use the surname of the mother and, regardless of any circumstances, is prohibited from using the father’s surname (Article 176 of the Family Code). This provision, however, was subsequently amended.
Illegitimate children can now use their father’s surname. Republic Act No. 9255, also known as “An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surname of their Father”, intends to remove (or diminish) the shame and stigma which accompanies illegitimacy. Do not confuse R.A. 9255 with R.A. 9225, which relates to dual citizenship (click here). The benefit applies to everyone, whether born before or after the effectivity of the law, and includes registered and unregistered births.
The new law took effect on March 19, 2004 – which was less than year after the Supreme Court upheld the denial of an illegitimate child’s request to use the surname of her father. In that 2003 case, the Supreme Court applied the old law (Article 176 of the Family Code), noting that where there’s no right, there is no remedy. By the way, the original Article 176 reads:
Article 176. 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. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child.