Arroyo bill would let women reclaim maiden names sans court orders

August 2, 2017 - 12:28 PM
An old photo of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claimed to have been slapped with politically-motivated charges by allies of her predecessor, Noynoy Aquino. ( file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill that seeks to allow women to reclaim their maiden names without needing to secure a court order first.

House Bill No. 6028, or the proposed Reversion to Maiden Name Act, would “facilitate women’s right to revert to her surname in instances of legal separation, annulment or declaration of nullity of their marriage, as well as expand the scope of the civil registrar’s power to change or correct entries in the civil register without a judicial order,” the former president said.

Under the bill, a woman may revert to her maiden surname under the following circumstances:

  • After her marriage has been judicially declared null and void or after its annulment
  • After a judicial declaration of legal separation, provided that there has been no manifestation of reconciliation filed with the court
  • After a judicial declaration of separation of property, provided there has been no subsequent decree reviving the old property regime between the spouses
  • If the spouses stipulated in their marriage settlement that a regime of’ separation of properties shall govern their property relations
  • If the petitioner has been de facto separated from or abandoned by her husband for a period of not less than 10 years
  • If the petitioner’s husband may be presumed dead pursuant to the circumstances, periods and conditions set forth in the Civil Code of the Philippines and the Rules of Court

The reversion can be done through a petition filed with the Civil Registrar General, which, together with the Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Supreme Court Administrator, in coordination with other concerned government agencies, will be authorized to issue the rules and regulations for the implementation of the proposed law.

In the Philippines, the use of the husband’s surname is optional and no longer mandatory.

“But in cases when a woman chooses to use her husband’s surname, laws do not allow her to revert back to her maiden surname without a judicial order,” Arroyo pointed out.

“In order to truly realize the woman’s right to use her maiden name, the present measure deletes the tedious and expensive court process that might be associated therewith,” she added.