The Hyphenated-Surname

I recently added a friend over at Facebook after about months of her invitation pending.  Why?  First, I forgot her already since we knew each other only from our early elementary years; second, her pretty face did not bring a familiar face in my memory bank; and third, I did not recognize her hyphenated surname.  I was only able to add her when my cousin told me she was his girlfriend and he reminded me that we were once classmates.  When I read my cousin’s message, I checked her name again.  Why the hell did she use a hyphenated name when she was still single?  She wrote her first name and hyphenated her middle name with her surname.  Aigoo!

This isn’t the first time that I’ve encountered persons using the hyphenated surnames incorrectly.  I even notice men using hyphenated surnames presumably using the surnames of their mothers.  Gawd.

In the Philippines, only married women can use hyphenated surnames.  The children of the women who carry hyphenated surnames cannot use the hyphenated surnames too – the children will have to carry the surname of the father.

Under Article 370 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, 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.”.

The situation in number 1 is what we call the hyphenated surname.  If Maria Santos marries Mario Delacruz, she may opt to use Maria Santos-Delacruz after the marriage.  In the case of number 2, she will be Maria Delacruz.  In the last situation, she will be Mrs. Mario Delacruz (thus the commonly used Mrs. Maria Delacruz is totally wrong, it irritates my ears when I hear it).

Since the wording in Article 370 is “may” and not “shall”, the Supreme Court has ruled that the three options are not obligatory and it is not the duty of the married woman to carry her husband’s surname.  By all means, the woman can retain her maiden surname because as the High Court says, the effect of marriage is only a change in the civil status and not in the change of name [updated 2/15/10].

Since I’m already on surnames, here are some interesting laws on Surnames under Philippine Law as well:

Art. 371.  In case of annulment of marriage, and the wife is the guilty party, she shall resume her maiden name and surname.  If she is the innocent spouse, she may resume her maiden name and surname.  However, she may choose to continue employing her former husband’s surname, unless the court decrees otherwise or she or the former husband is married again to another person.

Art. 372  When legal separation has been granted, the wife shall continue using her name and surname employed before legal separation.

Art. 373.  A widow may use the deceased husband’s surname as though he were still living, in accordance with Art. 370.

Art. 374.  In case of identity of names and surnames, the younger person shall be obliged to use such additional name or surname as will avoid confusion.

Art.  375.   In case of identity of names and surnames between ascendants and descendants, the word “Junior” can be used only by a son.  Grandsons and other direct male descendants shall either: (1) Add a middle name or the mother’s surname or (2) Add the Roman numerals II, III, and so on.

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35 Comments to “The Hyphenated-Surname”

  1. wow, it’s my first time to learn that using “mrs” prior to a female’s name then the husbands last name is totally wrong. so how many ignorants are we in this world?
    thank you for this very informative article.
    now i wonder if i can change to a hyphenated name. it do sounds giving honor to your father specially on my case (2 daughter in the family). would it be possible to change my name to a hyphenated one? i got married 2 years ago. i hope you can publish articles on such topic. thank you mrs _______(?).

    • hi, yes you can, but you have to effect the change in all your records – sss, philhealth, bir, etc. ask the offices for the requirements. I’m pretty sure they won’t understand why you want the hyphenated surname.

      er— why don’t you just leave the records as is and just use the hyphenated surname in your daily life that does not involve those pertinent records – like introducing yourself with the hyphenated surname, etc.?

      now that you know, tell your daughters to use the hyphenated surname when they marry : )

  2. This is very interesting.

    Question – a female friend of mine is marrying an Indonesian here in the Philippines. Since in that part of Indonesia where the husband comes from, the married women still retain their single status names, my friend is maintaining hers as well here in the country.

    Her mom, who is a stickler to tradition, doesn’t like the idea.

    So, can Filipinas retain their names even after marriage here in the Philippines?

    • jatty, the effects of marriage will be governed by the national law of the husband.

      will the national law of her husband-to-be grant her Indonesian citizenship after the marriage? if yes, the laws of her husband-to-be will govern her right to use (or not use) the husband’s surname. In this case, she can very well maintain her single status name because her new nationality does not allow her to use her husband’s name – the laws of the Philippines does not bind her anymore.

      on the other hand, if she remains a Filipino after the marriage, she has no choice but to use the hyphenated surname when she is here. This is because it’s not possible for a married woman here to maintain her maiden surname after she marries. Being a Filipino, the laws of the Philippines will continue to bind her.

      • How come its NOT POSSIBLE for a married woman to maintain her maiden surname after she marries… As you said the law used the word “MAY” the married woman MAY use…. meaning its up to the women if they wanted to ADOPT their husband’s surname…The Phils Law didnt use the word “MUST”.
        Well, actually, the way I see it… the CHANGING OF SURNAMES once a lady got married is just basically a form of TRADITIONS, BELIEFS…
        To this date, the changing of surname is becoming STRESSFUL, coz you hve to make it LEGAL. meaning you have to change your DRIVER’s LICENSE, SSS, CREDIT CARDS, PASSPORT, and other ID’s… sometimes, they might opt you to provide AFFIDAVITS to testify that 2 names belong to 1 person (YOU).
        The women has the RIGHT to choose whether she wanted to retain her surname bcoz its her IDENTITY, SYMBOL and HONOR.
        Or she can opt to use HYPENATED NAME to give respect to her husband, but it DOES NOT mean that she is UNDER his power , authority or a form of property…

        Cheers! :)

      • hi! under the law, it is possible to use it — and you can use it if you want to… unfortunately, there are just some government agencies who are clueless of this and compel the married women to change it. to continue using the maiden name is not so much difficult than that of using a hyphenated surname because it will just be assumed that the maiden surname is the married surname, until they really look over the data. even then, be free to use your maiden name, you’re entitled under the law [but the children must use the husband's name, ok?].
        thanks for dropping by : )

  3. Her citizenship remains Filipina. This we had once discussed. She’s not changing her citizenship, she told me. However, she will reside in Indonesia right after the wedding.

    Yen, you explain the law very well. YOu should write a column like A Law Each Day kindf stuff. you rock it, girl!

    Carry on!

  4. thank you on these legalities on names. the reason why i decided to have my husband’s name after marriage is that i felt that it’s kinda feminist to keep my last name, even with the hyphenated and my husband last name is long too. so it won’t save any ink to include my name. haha. i also don’t want to break traditions. oldie:). but now i just realized it’d really give honor to your father. so starting tomorrow i’ll be using the hyphenated.
    i agree on the comment of jc guapo. a law each day section on a newspaper, mags or online would be cool, atty.

    • thanks! : )
      I stopped using the hyphenated surname (other than professional life) because i have two first names (11 letters) and my maiden surname has 6 letters and my hubby’s 7. gesh!
      i envy those who are married to guys with only two letters like Ty, Yu, Sy, hahaha.

  5. Hi Yen! Thanks for this info. I agree with Jasper, dapat naa ka posts about laws at least once a week.

    I sometimes use my hyphenated surname in Butuanon circles. Basin man gud di nila mailhan ang Divinagracia. Sa legal docs, no hyphens na kay taas na kaayo ako name.

  6. can i ask? i want to renew my passport into MRP and my old passport carries my maiden surname and i want to change it to hyphenated surname. the guy in Phil embassy in Singapore told me that they dont allow that anymore. Must use the husband’s surname alone. But i changed my PRC to hyphenated surnames and its okay. i will renew my IC here i singapore as hyphenated, i want my IDs to all be similar sana. I am a doctor and i want to keep my maiden and husband’s surnames sana. Do i have the right to tell them my right as what the civil code has stipulated? thanks

    • Hi! I suggest that you ask him first the reason why he said it’s not allowed so that we’ll know what action to take.
      of course you can insist on the hyphenated surname – it’s your right under the civil code – the law has not been amended or repealed yet, so it remains to stand.

  7. ok thanks. i will ask and let u know if anything happens. thanks so much. at least i am confident to insist.

  8. Hi Yen, just got married few days ago. I plan on using “the hyphenated surname” but what should my middle name be?

    • hi! your middle name remains the same. if you are Joan Santos Cruz, marrying Juan Fernandez, you’re now going to be Joan Santos Cruz-Fernandez. ^_^ [the middle name is still Santos].
      note that your children will be different and their middle name will be Cruz. eg Little Joan Cruz Fernandez.
      thanks for dropping by!

  9. Hi! I see you have recently added a paragraph on the interpretation of Art. 370.. Does this mean that in the case of the Indonesian-Filipina couple you commented on previously, the woman can keep using her maiden surname after all?

  10. Thanks for this post. The local LTO here refused allow me to apply for a driver’s license because I insisted on using my hyphenated last name. They said that I had to use only my husband’s last name. They also refused to believe me when I told them that I was under no legal obligation to assume my husband’s last name. Keeping my maiden last name is important to me as my family name is dying out. There are no men to carry on the last name for the next generation.

    Is my child obliged to carry his father’s last name? Or may I petition the court to have his last name changed to my maiden last name to ensure that the family name lives on?

    • hi chris!

      since your child is a legitimate child, our laws require him to use the surname of the father in order to establish his/her paternity.

      petition for change of name must be for a valid ground [such as the name is scandalous, tainted with dishonor, etc.]. while you may have the right to petition the court, the court might not be convinced of your reason, especially that it is one of the rights of the child to carry the surname of the father and the state always protects the right of the child.

      however, you can always try and do a kris aquino, who petitioned the court that baby james carry her name instead of her estranged husband’s, hehe.

  11. Hi!!! I recently got married and I haven’t change any of my records yet. I would just like to ask, in filling out forms where there are allotted box for last name, what should I put? Say My name is Shey Dizon Cruz and married Dan Perez. Should I put Cruz-Perez as my last name then?=D Thanks a lot.

    • when you fill it up as Cruz-Perez, you more or less have chosen to hyphenate your name. when you added the “-Perez” you already changed your name, hehehe.

      since i assume it’s not on the formal records, just use any way you want and of course, you can hyphenate it. it’s perfectly fine if you do not hyphenate it and just go on with the maiden name because women are not compelled to change their family name upon marriage, hehehe.

      even up to now, i play around my name, depending on the circumstances. buying plane tickets i use my husband’s name; filling out official forms connected to my profession, I use the hyphenated surname because that’s the name i registered in; others, i just use the married name for convenience and in order to avoid questions [like how come your married and you don't have the same surname with your husband?]

      • Thanks a lot. I’m starting to use my hyphenated surname now. It raises a lot of questions though. Hehehe…

  12. hi!

    just wondering if i can still use the hyphenated surname even though i already changed it to my hubby’s last name because i was not in the mood to argue with the sss and lto employees. sss and lto did not accept my application using the hyphenated surname.

    i rally want to use the hyphenated surname, what can i do about it?

    thanks a lot!

    • that’s so true, sadly, i think many are so ignorant of this fact and those government offices compel just-married women to change the family name. even DFA won’t allow you to use the hyphenated surname.

      just use the hyphenated surname in your everyday life that is not in anyway related to SSS, LTO or the like. for example, i also use my hyphenated name in airline tickets, in official communications, and practically every document that requires me to fill in my name…raffle tickets, etc. etc..

      my sss name and my passport name are in my married name but my prc and supreme court names are in hyphens. i never changed my name in the bir TIN but after my marriage, each time I filed the ITR, i already affixed the hyphen and there was no problem.

      just play around the name you use but remember to be consistent too, otherwise your records will be a mess, hehehe.

  13. Hi would like to ask, i have 2 professions (PRC) 1 i registered my hyphenated surname then the recent 1 w/ my husband name (due to tons of applicants i dont want to elaborate to the registration officer, plus my school credentials are all under my husbands name since i’m married already when i took my 2nd course), can i take my husband name instead (to my 1st PRC card ), since my passport, ITR, SSS and the like are all in my husband’s surname. The only hyphented surname i have is this 1 PRC card i have. do i need to apply for petition to PRC via change in data entry?

    • hi, sorry for the very late reply.
      i think you should if you want to…for consistency. it’s so easy to change your name in the prc records. you just need to fill up the prc form for that.

  14. hi.. i just got married and my father sooo requested that I use the hyphenated surname. I won’t process my change in status to government agencies personally because all the forms will be passed on to our HR and they will process it. My problem is that sa HR pa lang makikipag argue ka na if you insist on that matter. Mga lawyers lang daw ang allowed na maghyphenate ng name.. I still have the forms and I still can’t fill out all the “name” section. I really would like to do my father’s request. what do you suggest?

    • hi!
      okay, that portion about lawyers being only the ones allowed to use hyphenated surnames are cracking me up, lol!
      it’s so hard that these people are so ignorant and they’re forcing others to do something against their will.
      hmm, the only way to compel them to listen to you and insist on your right would be to file a case against them, but that would be way overboard.
      which agencies are you referring to? why don’t you try going to the respective agency first, even making a written inquiry of the matter, and when you get your reply [hopefully allowing you to use hyphenated surname], you furnish HR a copy thereof … i’m sure they can’t do anything about it anymore because you already secured approval from the respective agencies concerned.

      good luck and thanks for dropping by!

  15. HI, I got married recently too :) and I want to use my maiden name with the hyphenated surname of my husband as my legal name. Has there been any instance wherein the LTO or DFA allowed the use of such surnames? I want to use the hyphenated surnames in my legal documents too.

  16. The last time I know, LTO and DFA doesn’t allow women to use hyphenated surnames : ( so sad they’re so clueless.
    Please try though doing so. Maybe, they’ve been enlightened, lol. Good luck!

  17. i was allowed by lto and dfa to use my hyphenated last name but there’s no hyphen in the system so what happens is that there’s a space in between your two surnames…..

  18. This is very informative thanks. Would hyphenated surname apply to all professions for the PRC renewal of license?..

  19. I’m She (that’s my nickname), 28y/o. I married June last year and I am now using Sherry Lyn F. Lamsen-Orjalo as my full name. Is that legal? Please give me clarifications with regards to the use of a married woman’s name under the Civil Code? I’m a bit confused. Under the law, a married woman has the option to use her maiden FIRST name and SURNAME plus her husband’s surname. There’s no mention about middle names. Is it correct to assume that you could also retain your MIDDLE name when you are already married? Like in my case, I am formerly Ms. Sherry Lyn Fernandez Lamsen. Now, I am using Sherry Lyn Fernandez Lamsen-Orjalo.

    • yeah, that’s correct. maiden first name is Sherry Lyn. your maiden surname is Lamsen. add husband’s surname. you get SHERRY LYN F. LAMSEN-ORJALO. you keep your full maiden name and just hyphenate it with your husband’s surname. that’s legal, but you need to update your status and your records at the appropriate gov’t offices to effect the change.

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