Surnames of Illegitimate Children

A child born out of wedlock is, by law, an illegitimate child of both parents. If both parents marry in the future, the child may become legitimated; provided, that the parents of the child were not suffering from any legal impediment to marry each other at the time of the child’s birth. In other words, both parents should have been legally single and free to marry one another, if they wanted to, at the time their lovechild was born. The consequence of the subsequent marriage of such persons is the legitimation of their lovechild.

Legitimation is not automatic. One has to apply for the new status to be reflected in the birth certificate of the child. Legitimation changes the status of the child from illegitimate to legitimate, thereby granting to the child additional rights such as the right to use the father’s surname and to inherit as a legitimate child from both parents. Some seek legitimation for their child for purely social reasons.

An interesting case came up involving two friends who had a lovechild before getting married to one another. The father of the illegitimate child was still legally married to his spouse at the time of the child’s birth, while the child’s mother was single. The subsequent marriage, however, could not result in the legitimation of the illegitimate child because of the legal impediment that existed at the time of her birth.

But what can one do to lessen the stigma that normally attaches to children born out of wedlock,when it is through no fault of their own? Though legitimation is not possible, I advised both parents to file a petition for the child to be allowed to use the surname of the father by virtue of Republic Act No. 9255. Under this law, illegitimate children may be allowed to carry the father’s surname.

One may not be able to wipe out entirely mistakes in one’s past, but one can at least make it less visible to society for the sake of the child.

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51 thoughts on “Surnames of Illegitimate Children

  1. Jerome

    ..This site is good… I just want to ask if a new born baby can be registered to NSO using the surname of the father even the father is not present during babies birth, & the parents of the new born baby were not yet married? can u please guide me? thanks!!!

    1. Atty. Post author

      Jerome: Most likely not, unless your signature appears at the back of the certificate of live birth through some other means even while you were not present during the birth of the child. The illegitimate child’s right to use the surname of the father requires acknowledgment of paternity either on the birth certificate itself or through another signed and sworn document. I hope this helps.

      1. Jerome

        ..Thank you very much for the answer this will help, but what would be the best remedy because the father is in abroad & can’t go home during the expected birth of the baby.. please guide me further, thanks..

      2. Atty. Post author

        Jerome: The father may want to consider the following:
        1. File a petition to use the father’s surname (RA9255) when the father returns. A disadvantage is that the child’s birth certificate will still show the child’s last name as the mother’s surname, and only an annotation will appear at the side of the certificate stating that the child is allowed to use the dad’s surname.
        2. Late registration of certificate of live birth. The father can sign it when he returns but the process for registration is more tedious.
        3. Ask the hospital where the mother is expected to give birth if they will accept an affidavit acknowledging paternity executed in advance.

      3. Liah O*****

        Gud day! i will just ask if theres a problem if we left the space wherein we the parents of an illegitimate child should state our names on our child’s admission of paternity form found the the back of NSO birth certificate.We were able to affix our signatures on it.but left the space blank where we have to sworn and indicate our names? tnx!

      4. Atty. Post author

        Liah: Already replied to this query. Please check previous comments. Thank you.

  2. Jerome

    Thank you very much for the informations & guidance that you have given. May the Creator Blessed you more..

  3. joy

    ms. florido pls help me about the problem of my sister in law. she’s not registered at our local civil registrar. just today i went to civil registrar office to file a late registration. sad to say shes been using her fathers surname from the start. and her father died so he cannot gave an acknowledgement of paternity and no doc. showing clearly any paternity. please help me if there is any remedy for this. thanks.

    1. Atty. Post author


      Try looking for other documents bearing the name and signature of the father such as
      – baptismal certificate of your sis-in-law,
      – SSS /GSIS records of the father where he may have listed her as one of his children or beneficiaries
      – handwritten letter or documents acknowledging her as his daughter
      – old report cards where the father signed as a parent
      – any other document showing paternity
      Attach these documents to an Affidavit to Use Surname of Father which will be signed by the mother, and submit it at the local civil registrar. You may also have to show the father’s death certificate.

      I hope this helps.

  4. Jeff

    A pleasant day to u ma’am, I just want to ask if what i will do to let my surname to be used by the son of my wife? My wife has son before we got married and i want my surname be used by her son. What are the remedies I can take, please guide me..

    1. Atty. Post author

      Jeff: You can adopt her son so that he can use your last name as his surname.

  5. Jeff

    Thanks a lot ma’am,. But ma’am does the father of the boy has the right to complain if i adopt him? Hope u can guide me more..Thanks..

    1. Atty. Post author

      Jeff: When the petition is filed and the father hears about it, there is always a chance that he may oppose the petition.

  6. elise


    im about to give birth in 2 weeks time, and im not married to the father of my child.. The father of my child is separated to his spouse for 9yrs now but giving financial support to their children. My question were, 1st) is it legal for my daughter to use her father’s surname?, 2nd) the father is currently out of the country and he will not be able to make on my delivery, how can he sign the acknowledgement of paternity? 3rd) would there be any problems if im going to apply for my child’s passport if she uses her father’s surname? because were planning to visit other country for vacation purposes.. please help me with all of these queries.. Many thanks..

    1. Atty Post author

      1) Your daughter can use her father’s surname if you decide to let her bear his last name.
      2) If the father is expected to be out of the country at the time of your child’s birth, try this: Execute a joint affidavit of paternity and acknowledgment and attach it to the certificate of live birth immediately after childbirth.
      3) I don’t foresee problems obtaining a passport for her just as long as the names appearing on all her documents are consistent (the same). When you leave the country with her, you may have to bring along her birth certificate and an affidavit of illegitimacy just in case you are questioned by immigration authorities at the point of departure or entry in a foreign country about your relationship to her (for traveling minors).

      I hope these answers help.

  7. rene

    hi atty!my wife and I got married 2 months after our daughter was born, year 2000. We waited until we got married before we had her registered coz we thought that’s the only way my daughter can use my last name.we filed some affidavit of legitimacy and stuff so in the local civil registrar, her bcertificate carries my last name but the one we got from NSO she bears my wife’s last name. It only has annotation which says late registration due to subsequent marriage. it doesnt show that she has the right to use my lastname. im afraid we’ll have probs with her passport, and school records. and also, is it possible to file for a new birthcertificate since the law has already been amended, is it willing to undergo legal proceedings if thats the only way my daughter can have a clearer birth annotation just my lastname appearing as hers..the normal one. thanks a lot atty.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Rene: Unfortunately, at the time your child was born (2000), the law allowing illegitimate children to use the father’s surname was not yet in effect and legally, can be applied for cases after its date of effectivity (2004). In your case, however, I will assume that at the time your daughter was born, you and your wife were legally single and could have gotten married if you had wanted to. If this is the case, then your marriage after your daughter’s birth would have resulted in her LEGITIMATION. The proper procedure then, is not to avail of RA 9255 because this law applies to illegitimate children. There is another procedure that you can avail of at the office of the civil registrar, just ask them for the requirements of legitimation.

      On the other hand, if you or your current wife was already married at the time your daughter was born, then your child remains illegitimate and cannot be legitimated by your subsequent marriage after her birth. This means that even with RA 9255, your daughter’s birth certificate will show her mother’s last name and contain an annotation stating that she is allowed to use your surname. Perhaps, you can try asking a lawyer to file a petition to correct her last name in court in order to obtain a new birth certificate showing your last name as hers. This last procedure will take time and may or may not be granted by the court. I hope this helps.


    I have pregnatant a women out of wedlock and we broke up before birth. She now wants the baby to have my surname eventhough we are not involved. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using my surname instead of the mother`s surname. If my surname is used will I have to give consent to the mother in anything concerning the baby. Can the mother be allowed to process the baby`s things without my consent?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Tebogo: If you are referring to a Filipino illegitimate child, then by letting the child use your surname, you will have to execute an affidavit of paternity. This will then make it easy for your child to prove his/her right to inherit from you someday. With your surname, the mother may encounter some inconvenience when traveling abroad with the minor illegitimate child because immigration officers may subject the mom to additional questions unless she shows a Travel Clearance issued by the DSWD. If the mother intends to migrate abroad with her child, consular officials may require additional documents as a condition for the issuance of an entry visa for the child. There may be other consequences aside from these, but these are all I can think of right now.

  9. Mae

    hi. i just found this site and this is very helpful. i am just quite confused. the situation is this. me and my partner is not yet married (and we are planning on civil since we have different religion. last year i gave birth to our son, on the birth certificate (back part of the certificate, the father acknowledge it, he is the one processing it actually, before the front page were given full name..there was the given name, my family surname in the middle and the surname of my husband to be on the last.. my question is, still the child considered illegitimate?(we are not yet married, but the name of my child contains the family name of the father..please enlighten

    1. Atty. Post author

      Mae Q: Yes, your child is still illegitimate although he/she is allowed to use the father’s surname. If you do get married and both of you were single at the time your child was born, you may apply for legitimation so that her birth certificate will reflect her new status as legitimated. Legitimation gives the child all the rights of a legitimate child, which is important for purposes of inheritance someday.

  10. Mae

    my son was born on May 2010. will the NSO copy of my child’s birth cert still bear the father’s family name on front page or with (legitimized after marriage?)..thanks

    1. Atty. Post author

      Mae: It should reflect the same entries as they appear now in the original certificate of live birth. The NSO certificate is simply a snapshot of that document although it is printed in a security paper to avoid falsification. I hope this helps.

  11. clifford

    I’m illegitimate child of a foreigner my mother is filipina my surname is foreign sound what shall I Do to have a Philippine passport?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Clifford: If you have a birth certificate issued by a civil registrar in the Philippines, you can use that to support an application for a Philippine passport. You may go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and obtain forms for this. I hope this helps.

  12. rhio

    good day, Atty. i just want to know even i was born in 1979 am i qualified in
    republic Act.9255? in ny birhtcertificate im using my mothers name, but
    since i was a kid until now im using my father name, what am i suppose to do?
    thank you

    1. Atty. Post author

      Rhio: You can avail of RA 9255 by submitting an affidavit where your father admits or acknowledges paternity along with the other documents required by the civil registrar. Just go to the civil registrar where your birth certificate is recorded and ask for the list of requirements and the standard form they usually prepare for you to fill out. Since you are already of legal age, you may apply for the use of your father’s surname on your own. Take note that the final output of this process is an annotation appearing on the margin side of your birth certificate showing your right to use your father’s surname. You will not be issued a new birth certificate after approval. I hope this helps.

  13. rhio

    thank’s, Atty. i went to local civil registrar in manila just the other day, they gave me a list of requirements for my father, like GSIS, SSS, Insurance,
    and Philhealth which indicate his benificiaries that includes me, but my
    father had no any of that, so they told me we had no choice but to go to the
    court, and the other thing i was wondering on how much will it cost,

    1. Atty. Post author

      Rhio: Although it is not stated in your previous comments, I assume that your father is no longer alive since you were asked to show other documents containing your father’s acknowledgment? If your father is still alive, then you need not go to court for as long as you can get your father to sign a document acknowledging you as his child.

      1. rhio

        you’re a big help Atty.
        last question nalang po, saan po kya kami pwede mag pa acknowledge ng father ko? buhay pa po sya nasa province lng po. maraming maraming salamat po.

      2. Atty. Post author

        Rhio: sent a reply through email; please check.

      3. rhio

        good mormning again atty. i have executed a affidavit
        of acknowlegment from my father, kaya lang po hindi
        tinanggap ng munisipyo kung saan ako naka rehistro
        dahil daw po may nang yari na may nagpanggap na tatay
        kasabwat ang nanay magamit lang ang apilyido ng tatay,
        kaya kinakailangan ko daw po mag pacourt session,
        kung gagamitin ko nman po yung apelyido na ng mother ko
        na nasa birthcertificate ko, kakailanganin ko parin
        po kaya magpacourt session pag pinabago ko yung apelyido
        ng mga anak ko sa birt nila? im a singel parent po kasi
        at naka apilyido po sila sa akin.
        thank you po ulit.

      4. Atty. Post author

        Rhio: Please refresh my memory about your situation– why can’t you apply for RA 9255 again? Is your father still alive? If he is, just get him to show up at the civil registrar’s with his ID showing a photo and signature to confirm the Affidavit of Acknowledgment you presented. If this is no longer possible, then you may have to file a case to change the surnames of your children to your mother’s surname.

  14. pinay in swiss

    Hello atty, i learned alot of things in this section. I dont know if its updated, i tried to enter my question but seems to be deleted so i will try again in case there was just some glitch or so.

    I was a teenage mom but got married almost a year ago here in Switzerland to a German national. My daughter is now 7 yrs old and i want her to have my current last name. My husband also wants this but we dont know how to proceed with it. Iam Filipino and my daughter who always lived with me is also filipino and she carries my maiden name.

    My question is, can we process this even without involving her biological father? I wont go into details, maybe via email i can but it all boils down to the fact that i would like to give my daughter the same last name as i have without having the risk of involving the biological father in the process. Thank you and God bless.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Pinay in Swiss: Your husband will have to adopt your daughter for her to use his last name. Adoption,however, requires the consent of the child’s father. If her birth certificate does not indicate her father’s name, then his consent may not be required.

  15. Joyce

    hi i would just like to ask, what if a girl had a child and forge the last name to be on the dad of her child in the birth certificate, will that be consider as legal document of the child? the dad of the child is not aware of this by the way.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Joyce: I assume that you mean, she “forged the father’s signature” to make it appear that he acknowledged and signed the illegitimate child’s birth certificate. While the child’s mother may initially succeed in her misdeed, she may later be charged with falsification of public document. The document is presumed to be legal and properly executed unless the child’s father complains and files the appropriate charges against her.

  16. rams

    Hello Atty. I am a single mother and my child’s father left us before I gave birth. He totally abandoned us and he even used a false name. I left the father’s name blank in my daughter’s birth certificate. I’d like to know how it will affect my daughter in the future?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Rams: While it may seem unfortunate that your child’s father failed to acknowledge her or sign her birth certificate, this may later be advantageous when you want to travel or migrate abroad with her. Many single mothers who move on with their lives (usually abroad) find it difficult to apply for their children’s visas because the illegitimate fathers refuse to cooperate with them. Also, some illegitimate children may not want to carry their father’s surnames when they are adults especially when the fathers abandoned them. I’ve received emails from people who have been acknowledged by fathers who eventually disappeared from their lives, and now the children (as adults) wish to revert back to their mothers’ surnames– something that will take a court proceeding. I hope this helps.

  17. Olga ************

    I would like to ask my daughter has the last name of his father but we are not married. I would like to have it removed since he is not supporting his daughter anyway. I have plans to go abroad as well. and when I checked his name on the birth certificate. He has affixed his surname with JR. when he was supposedly should use III (the third) can this be grounds for cancellation since his name is incorrect?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Olga: Typographical errors on the first names may be corrected by going to the civil registrar’s office where your child’s birth certificate was recorded and applying for the correction. However, to change your child’s surname will require a court process, meaning, you’ll have to file a case in court, go through hearings, etc. Lack of support is not a valid reason to change the child’s surname but to file a petition for child support in court. I hope this helps.

  18. ann

    hi atty. i used my mothers name in my birth cert when i was born. but when my parents got married they have these affidavit of illegitimacy and change my last name to my fathers last name last 2003. i requested a nso copy of bc last week and my last name is still my mithers maiden name. what should i do and what documents can i present to the dfa coz im applying for a passport. hoping that you could help me

    1. Atty. Post author

      Ann: The DFA Passport system lists the following as the requirements for those who have been legitimated-
      a) Marriage Certificate from the NSO in SECPA
      b) Birth Certificate from NSO must be annotated.

      Your NSO birth certificate will still show your mother’s surname but will bear an annotation on either left or right margin stating that you have been legitimated. That should be enough for you to apply for a passport under your legitimated surname.

  19. Sana

    I am married in a Foreigner Muslim and have eldest with him and now i was pregnant and will give birth soon so i need advice asap. I am planning not to put surname of his father to my unborn daughter. Instead used my surname because we are always fighting and I am afraid that he will get my daughter in the future.. It is possible to do so because like i told you earlier we are married and my documents like passport and Philhealth was already change to married. my main concern is about my unborn daughter I dont like that his father will have any chance to get her from me as he already get my eldest.Please help thanks.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Sana: Since you are legally married to the child’s father, our laws require you to be truthful in filling out the child’s birth certificate. There are criminal laws that may be violated if you fail to name the child’s father and make it appear that your child is illegitimate. Do not worry about future child custody because the law is generally on the mother’s side, particularly when the child is under 7 years old. Try not to worry too much about your child’s birth certificate and focus on having a safe delivery. If you are separated and would like to obtain custody over your eldest, then I suggest that after you deliver your next child, you consult a lawyer who can help you file a case in court to gain child custody over your eldest.

  20. joan

    hi atty, as the mom, can i apply for my son the ra 9255 even the father is out of the country? the father is willing to sign any paper just for his son to use his name.The father acknowledge my son, signed at the back of the birth certificate.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Joan: While you can prepare the documents required by the civil registrar in advance and have the father sign them, the thing is, most civil registrars now require the personal appearance of the father before approving the application for RA 9255. You’ll have to check with the civil registry concerned to see if they require the father’s personal appearance.

  21. joyce

    hi atty,

    i ask question last month but im not sure if youy received it using my other emails any way my question is?

    im a illegitimate child also and my mom entered my bc twice first when i was born in qc she put her last name as my surname since my father was not there during her delivery then they seperated my mom and me went to province where i started schooling she filed again my bc as late registration indicating that she and my father are married so i can use his surname until i graduated from college and married.
    Ngayon atty ndi kami nag uusap ng tatay ko at kinausap na din siya ng mama ko na baka pwd eh pirmahan niya ang acknoledgement form kaso ayaw niya pinutol na din niya lahat ng communication niya sa mama ko. paanu po ba gagawin ko may ibang way pa po ba para magamit ko surname niya natatakot po kasi ako na kapag gnamit ko surname ng mama ko at palitan lhat ng docs ko lalo na ung dito sa abroad baka magka problema ako.

    if ever nmn po na sundin ko ung asa first BC ko anu ano po ba ang dapat ko gawin?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Joyce: You can only have one certificate of birth registered at the NSO. I suggest that you obtain a copy from the NSO to see which version is on record and follow the name as it appears on it. If you have existing documents such as school records, SSS, and other government registrations in a different name, you may have to go to each organization or agency and request for the amendment of your records to properly reflect the same name which appears on your NSO birth certificate. All other applications such as passport, etc should then follow the information appearing on your NSO birth certificate in order to avoid future problems.

  22. Riza

    Good day Atty. C! I would like to inquire if I be having problems in getting passports for my 2 illegitimate kids who share the same middlename with me? It was of good intention when I placed in their birth certificates my middle name. I never knew that it could be left blank if a child is illegitimate. I only heard of such when our neighbor was discussing of illegitimacy and using of middlename and surnames. And if I will have problems with it, what will I do to correct it. I would be waiting for your reply. Thank you in advance.

    1. Atty. Post author

      Riza: I suggest that you have their birth certificates corrected BEFORE you apply for their passports. You may go to the civil registry where their birth certificates were recorded and ask for the list of documents required for the change of entry in their birth certificates. Just mention that you would like to change their middle names from yours to blank, explaining that they are illegitimate.

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