Automatically giving child surname of father not valid in law

Children should have both parents’ surnames court rules

Life in Italy News

In Italy, children are automatically given their father’s surname. The Constitutional Court ruled this act is not valid in law.

On 27th July, Italy’s Constitutional Court ruled that all norms which automatically attribute a father’s surname to his children are invalid. The court said that both parents’ surnames should be given to their children.

The top court said the norm attributing the father’s name to his children “is discriminatory and injurious of the child’s identity”. Children should be given both parents’ surnames in the order the parents agree on, the court said.

Alternatively, the parents may agree their child(ren) should bear the surname of just one of them, the supreme court added. If the parents are unable to agree on the order of name attribution, then a judge should decide.

Naming protocols

Currently, in Italy all children bear their father’s surname. However, when a couple marry, the woman does not take her husband’s name but retains her own. She changes from Signorina to Signora but retains her surname – that of her father. She may choose to be known by her husband’s surname, but few women do.

The change in naming protocol reflects that of the Spanish system – a child receives both parents’ surnames. Until recently, the father’s name preceded that of the mother; but now the order can be decided upon by both parents.

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