Civil Law,  Legally Yours

In Re: Petition for Change of Name of Julian Lin Carusalan Wang

In Re: Petition for Change of Name of Julian Lin Carusalan Wang

G.R. No. 159966. March 30, 2005
Tinga, J.


Petitioner Julian Lin Carulasan Wang, a minor, represented by his mother Anna Lisa Wang, filed a petition for change of name and/or correction/cancellation of entry in the Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang. Petitioner sought to drop his middle name and have his registered name changed from Julian Lin Carulasan Wang to Julian Lin Wang.

The parents of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang plan to stay in Singapore for a long time because they will let him study there together with his sister named Wang Mei Jasmine who was born in Singapore. Since in Singapore middle names or the maiden surname of the mother are not carried in a person’s name, they anticipate that Julian Lin Carulasan Wang will be discriminated against because of his current registered name which carries a middle name. Julian and his sister might also be asking whether they are brother and sister since they have different surnames. Carulasan sounds funny in Singapore’s Mandarin language since they do not have the letter R but if there is, they pronounce it as L. It is for these reasons that the name of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang is requested to be changed to Julian Lin Wang.


Should the petition be granted?


No. the State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for purposes of identification, and that a change of name is a privilege and not a right, so that before a person can be authorized to change his name given him either in his certificate of birth or civil registry, he must show proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason which may justify such change. Otherwise, the request should be denied.

Our laws on the use of surnames state that legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father. The Family Code gives legitimate children the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother, while illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother unless their father recognizes their filiation, in which case they may bear the fathers surname. Applying these laws, an illegitimate child whose filiation is not recognized by the father bears only a given name and his mother’s surname and does not have a middle name. The name of the unrecognized illegitimate child, therefore, identifies him as such. It is only when the illegitimate child is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents or acknowledged by the father in a public document or private handwritten instrument that he bears both his mother’s surname as his middle name and his father’s surname as his surname, reflecting his status as a legitimated child or an acknowledged illegitimate child. Accordingly, the registration in the civil registry of the birth of such individuals requires that the middle name be indicated in the certificate. The registered name of a legitimate legitimated and recognized illegitimate child thus contains a given or proper name, a middle name, and a surname.

Weighing petitioners reason of convenience for the change of his name against the standards set in the cases he cites to support his contention would show that his justification is amorphous, to say the least, and could not warrant favorable action on his petition.

In the case at bar, the only reason advanced by petitioner for the dropping his middle name is convenience. However, how such change of name would make his integration into Singaporean society easier and convenient is not clearly established. That the continued use of his middle name would cause confusion and difficulty does not constitute proper and reasonable cause to drop it from his registered complete name. In addition, petitioner is only a minor. Considering the nebulous foundation on which his petition for change of name is based, it is best that the matter of change of his name be left to his judgment and discretion when he reaches the age of majority. As he is of tender age, he may not yet understand and appreciate the value of the change of his name and granting of the same at this point may just prejudice him in his rights under our laws.

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