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Double name for children

Family law

Double name for children

The Italian Constitutional Court is pushing for all children (whether born in or out of wedlock or adopted) to be able to bear the surnames of both parents.

Following the complaint of an Italian couple, the Italian Constitutional Court ruled in its decision of 25 April 2022, which can be described as groundbreaking, that newborns no longer automatically bear the surname of the father. In the case decided by the Constitutional Court, the couple has two children born before marriage and one child born after marriage. The parents' wish to give their third child the mother's surname was rejected by the local courts.

The Constitutional Court declared the respective regulations in force unconstitutional as they were discriminatory and affected the identity of the child. The parents must be involved in the choice of the surname and must not be subjected to a legal automatism. Thus, newborns receive the surname of their father and mother in the order they wish. If the parents decide on only one surname, they can choose either that of the mother or that of the father.

The Constitutional Court's ruling is historic and represents a further step towards gender equality in the family and greater consideration of the best interests of the child. The Italian legislator is therefore called upon to regulate the issue of double surnames of children.

The possibility of giving children a double surname is now in line with other legal systems. Especially in the case of mixed Italian-German couples, it will be possible to have a double surname, even if German law does not provide for this. It is sufficient for the parents to choose the application of Italian law when giving the name.