Monday, May 6, 2013

Would you take your spouse’s surname?

I’ve learned that if a woman got married, that woman assumed the surname of her spouse, or omit her maiden name, or add her husband’s surname. In my case, I do that. I write my first name, maiden name, a hyphen and my hubby’s surname.  Of course, I know that you do the same.

But do you know of married women that keep their maiden names, they don’t use or omit the surnames of their husbands? I’m raising my hand because I did know a couple of friends that do this.  Is it new to you? Is it ridiculous? Is it permitted under the law?  Well, in most countries in Europe women keep their names. While in highly traditional Asian countries,  like the Philippines  we follow the patriarchal name system.

I read a Female Network.com article, written by Atty. Maria Dee A. Seares that discussed the surname  legalities  for married women. She mention the following sections from the Civil Code of the Philippines:
1. What is the law governing a married woman’s use of surnames?
Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides that a married woman may use the following:
a)    Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname (ex. Anna Santos-Cruz), or
b)    Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname (ex. Anna Cruz), or
c)    Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.” (ex. Mrs. Mark Cruz)
2. Does the woman need to apply or obtain permission before she can use the husband’s surname? 
No, the woman does not need to apply or obtain permission. The law, Article 370 of the Civil Code, grants the woman the right to use the surname of the husband upon marriage. The law provides the married woman 3 options as to what form of surname she prefers to use. 
3. Does the law prohibit the married woman from continuing to use her maiden name?  
No, there is no legal prohibition. Article 370 gave the married woman 3 options as to what name she will use upon marriage. However, there is nothing in the same law prohibiting a married woman from continuing to use her maiden name after marriage because, as the Supreme Court declared, “x x x when a woman marries, she does not change her name but only her civil status.” (Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202 [2010]) 
4. Is it obligatory under the law for the married woman to use the surname of the husband? 
No, it is not obligatory at all for the married woman to use the surname of her husband. The Supreme Court had the opportunity to explain and rule on this issue. It clarified that the use of the word “may” in Article 370 of the Civil Code means that the wife may or may not use the husband’s surname. The Supreme Court clarified that a woman does not have a duty to use the surname of the husband. (Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202 [2010])
Atty. Seares said further, “there are women that don't use their husband's surname and these changes may be signs of the times that women empowerment is rising. There is now an assertion by women to have an identity separate, distinct, and independent from that of their husbands”.

What I'm musing?
Well, given this legalities, patriarchal system and women empowerment concept, I think at the end it’s the women that should decide what she desire – take or not to take her spouse surname.

In arriving a decision, it should make us happy.  I mean, we should be in a relationship, in a marriage wherein we can do and think freely, no restrictions. We should not be treated as slaves by our spouses. We should not suffer abuses from our husbands. And lastly, we are loved and respected by our spouses.

In my case, I am married for 17 years and  I am using my husband’s surname. It’s no big deal if I am an appendage of my husband,  it’s no biggie  either if I am addressed as Mrs. (my husband’s surname).  It did not lose my identity.  I can act independently from my husband.

What is important is that I am happy with my spouse. We discussed what I want, what he want, and all the things affecting our relationship, our family. We have equal rights. We are a united front. We decide together. We are a team working towards the betterment of our relationship, for our kids,  and the  whole family.

Would you take your spouse's surname or not? What are your thoughts?