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Reverting to Your Maiden Name

In a couple of days, my best  friend will be getting married. Judging from her recent Facebook posts, she is *thrilled* at the thought of transitioning from a Miss to her fiance’s Mrs.  Well, I guess all other girls who’d soon be saying their “I DO’s” have, at one point, practiced signing their future married names.

Under Article 370 of our Civil Code, a woman is given three options when it comes to her name after marriage – (1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname (e.g. Lucy Torres Gomez); (2) Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname (e.g. Lucy Gomez); or (3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.” (e.g. Mrs. Richard Gomez).

Once the woman picks her choice, the next duty is to have the change in name reflected in all her official records. While most men take pride at giving their surnames to their wives, others lovingly beam at how their wives endured all the hassle just to announce to the world that she’s been hitched. Their happily ever after has just began!

Or maybe not. Unfortunately, not all marriages end happily in real life. There are those which get annulled or divorced. Others simply come to a point of falling apart. When these happens, it becomes terribly awkward for the woman to continue using her estranged husband’s surname and usually, two questions crop up:

First, can a married woman who has been separated in fact from her husband, revert to using her maiden name in her official employment records in the government?; and

Second, can she omit her husband’s surname in her Philippine passport?

The first question was answered by the Civil Service Commission in Vallar, Rommela B. (CSC Resolution 10123, June 15, 2010). In that case, Vallar wanted to change her name in the records of the CSC from her married name to  her maiden name after being separated (in fact) for almost six years with her husband. The Commission allowed it and ruled that a married woman may  unilaterally revert to using her maiden name. The only requirement is for the woman to inform her employer- agency that she is exercising her option to revert. No further authority is needed from the woman’s employer agency or the Commission because the latter are bound to recognize her option. epass_trans_small-1

The rule is different when it comes to renewing Philippine passports where such unilateral reversion is prohibited. In the case of Maria Virginia V. Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs (G.R. No. 169202, March 5, 2010), the Supreme Court clarified that a married woman who has been issued a Philippine passport under her husband’s surname cannot change her family name at will for as long as her marriage still subsists. This is  to prevent confusion and inconsistency in the records of passport holders. (To read the full text of the decision, click here.) The Department of Foreign Affairs will only allow the reversion upon showing that there is a final court decree severing the marriage.

9 thoughts on “Reverting to Your Maiden Name

      1. Hello Atty. Cabria, my mother used my late father’s surname (he died year 2012). We found out on 2013 that their marriage was not in Marriage Records, primarily because my mom doesn’t have her birth certificate until her 60th birthday. How can we correct her name from my father’s surname back to her maiden name with all her IDs? We already have her Cenomar and late registered birth certificate.

      2. Hello Attorney
        May I please ask if this is right. I was married in the UK, my ex and I are both dual. we divorced and he has remarried since.
        I went to the Phil Embassy here in London to change passport back to maiden name but was told that our mariage has already been reported to NSO and annulment is needed. So how come my ex already remarried and I cant revert back to my maiden name? Hope you can advise me.

  1. Good day! Greetings with peace!

    I am married since 2003 and got separated last 2010. I am currently working here in Palau, and I filed my Divorce here and got my Divorce Decree May of 2016. I am married in Phils to a Filipino Citizen also. My question is can I revert my passport name to my maiden name? And can I remarry a Palauan National here?

    Thank you so much.. Looking forward for your response. God bless.

  2. I have been reading and researching a lot about this matter and according the materials i have read, since divorce is something that does not exist in the Philippines, any divorce done will not be honored here. You can marry in Palau but when you go back to Philippines your first marriage still exist making your second marriage nulled and void. Im not an expert on this, just sharing. 🙂

    1. If you are married in the Philippines, you cannot contract a subsequent marriage in another country since the Philippine Embassy or Consulate will not issue the certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage.

  3. Hello! I’m married for five years now. I’ve always been determined to use my maiden name hyphenated with my husband’s surname. However, I didn’t know how to do it five years ago. In short, I used my married name in government agencies such GSIS, Pag-Ibig, PhilHealth, PRC, etc. But I use my hyphenated surname whenever I have to write it. Is it possible to change my married name to hyphenated so that all my IDs will bear my hyphenated name?

  4. I have been separated from my estranged wife whom I have no info of her whereabouts since 2003. Can I, as a man, declare that I am single on my passport application. I intend to live in another country and marry my girlfriend there. The main question is can I state onmy papers/application that I am single instead of married? Thanks!

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