When a child is born out of wedlock, the child carries the mother’s family name unless the father gives his consent for his child to use his last name and acknowledges him on paper. The date of marriage field on the child’s birth certificate must also be left blank until the parents are married, if and when.
There are cases when the child’s parents would place false information on their child’s birth certificate, declaring themselves to be married when they are not. Some single moms manage to include the child’s father’s last name on the child’s birth certificate, without seeking the latter’s consent. In their desire to save their child from being labeled illegitimate, they end up falsifying a public document, never mind the consequences it will eventually bring on their child.
So how does one correct the false information written on a birth certificate?
Nerissa and Joel were both only 22 years old when their eldest child, Denver, was born. Because they did not want their firstborn to suffer the stigma of being an illegitimate child, and since they do have plans of getting married later on, they opted for Denver to carry his father’s last name. Apart from that, they declared January 27, 2007 as their date of marriage – in reality, this was the date when they officially became a couple.
Fast forward to 10 years later when Denver, now a fifth grader and a prized athlete of their school, needs to secure a passport so he can compete in a swim meet in Singapore. His mom prepared all the documents needed for submission to the DFA, including and most importantly, Denver’s PSA birth certificate.
It was only then that Nerissa realized that Denver’s birth certificate still bears the fake date of marriage of his parents and his last name is still that of his biological father’s. Nerissa and Joel have since gone their separate ways; Nerissa is a single parent to Denver while Joel is married and is already residing abroad.
True enough, when they presented the documents at the DFA, Nerissa was asked to submit a copy of her and Joel’s “marriage certificate”. When she said that she does not have a marriage certificate because she is, in fact, not married, Denver’s passport application was put on hold.
Mother and son went home brokenhearted and clearly, unsure of the next steps they need to make to clarify the issue.
Nerissa wanted to work on two things: first, to change her son’s last name to her maiden last name and second, to rectify the false date of marriage declared on the child’s birth certificate.
In this case, changing Denver’s last name should be the easier task. She can file a petition in court to request for her son’s last name to be dropped and changed with hers. As of the moment, Philippine courts grant these types of petitions only on the following grounds:
- When the name is or sounds ridiculous, dishonorable, or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
- When the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation;
- When the change will avoid confusion;
- When one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and as unaware of alien parentage;
- A sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and
- When the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.
Obviously, Nerissa has a lot of explaining and justifying to do before the court. She needs to justify why she is now seeking to change the last name of Denver and prove that the change is for her son’s best interest.
The fake date of marriage on Denver’s birth certificate is a case all on its own. Dropping the fake date of marriage will be handled through a court order and with the assistance of Nerissa’s lawyer. These types of cases take time and may cost Nerissa more than she would have bargained for.
Placing false and inaccurate information on civil registry documents is illegal and considered a crime in our country. You may get away with it for a time but remember that whoever owns the document will eventually suffer the consequences of having false information on his or her birth or marriage certificate.