Law Dictionary

Question A.3, Civil Law, 2019 Bar Exam

Notice: The following suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide as an answer to a bar exam question. Thus, specific citations (i.e., republic acts, articles/sections, jurisprudence, etc.) are not provided because it is not required in the bar exam. For purposes other than answering the bar exam, please be reminded that proper referencing or legal citation is required.

Question A.3, Civil Law, 2019 Bar Exam

Mr. Reyes is legally married to Mrs. Reyes. During the subsistence of their marriage, Mr. Reyes cohabited with another woman, Ms. Cruz. Out of Mr. Reyes and Ms. Cruz’s illicit relationship, a child named C was born. In C’s birth certificate, “Cruz” appears as the child’s surname, although Mr. Reyes expressly acknowledged C as his child.

In 2018, Mr. Reyes and Ms. Cruz ended their relationship. Mr. Reyes thereafter lodged a petition in court for parental custody and change or correction of C’s surname in the child’s birth certificate from “Cruz” to “Reyes.” At that time, C was only ten (10) years old.

(a) Should Mr. Reyes be granted custody of C? Explain. (2.5%)

(b) Can Mr. Reyes validly compel the change or correction of C’s surname from “Cruz” to “Reyes”? Explain. (2.5%)

Suggested Answer:

(a) No. Answer

Under the jurisprudence, a parent may only be divested of his/her parental authority if they are judicially declared to be unfit to take charge of the child by reason of moral depravity, habitual drunkenness or poverty. Rule

In the case at bar, there is no showing that Ms. Cruz is unfit to by reason of moral depravity, habitual drunkenness or poverty. Apply

Thus, Mr. Reyes should not be granted custody. Conclusion

(b) No. Answer

Under the law, by default, the illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother. However, the illegitimate child has the option to use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. Rule

In the case at bar, the illegitimate child has not exercised such right. Instead, it is Mr. Reyes who is attempting to compel the change or correction of the illegitimate child’s surname. This is incorrect. Apply

Thus, Mr. Reyes cannot compel the change or correction of C’s surname from “Cruz” to “Reyes”. Conclusion

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

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