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    4 Out Of Every 10 Households in Costa Rica are Single-Parent, Led by Women

    People interested in applying the Surname change must proceed in accordance with the procedure established by the TSE, through the Civil Registry

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    Recently, a relevant vote of the Costa Rican Constitutional Chamber came to public opinion by which the phrase in article 49 of the Civil Code that required a person’s name to be composed by their “given name”, the surname of the father and the mother’s last name, in that order and without exception.

    It is still necessary to have the vote in its entirety, to know in detail the arguments and reasons, but, above all, its scope. In general terms, a rule – or part of it – that is declared unconstitutional ceases to have immediate effect. Exceptionally, the Constitutional Chamber has deferred the effects of unconstitutionality to a later time, but there is no information that this is the case.

    For Mrs. Adelita Olivares, lawyer and Senior Associate of Facio&Cañas, “the phrase in article 49 of the Civil Code, today unconstitutional, certainly, responded not only to another era, but also to another scale of (social) values ​​and to another way of understanding and face the world. There is no legal, social or moral justification to maintain it.”

    It should be noted that Costa Rica is a signatory to multiple international conventions that protect and safeguard the right of women to equality and a life free of all types of violence, including: The Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women; the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women; the Quito Consensus; the Brasilia Consensus; the Inter-American Convention against all forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.

    Costa Rica in numbers with regards to this topic:

    In the country and according to the Multipurpose Households survey of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses in 2020, four out of ten households are made up of single parents, led by women. “Human experience tells us that, in a good part of These homes, the sons and daughters, have little or no emotional relationship with the father and in many cases there is no other bond than bearing his last name. In this scenario, it is significant that there is now the possibility and the right for these sons and daughters to first bear the surname of their mother, with whom they presumably have the most emotional, personal and economic ties and, consequently, is the most significant person in the family the construction of their identity as people. The right to choose is vital and that is precisely the core of the aforementioned resolution: being able to decide in freedom and equality,” says lawyer Olivares.

    This regulatory modification also applies to Costa Ricans of legal age who, for various reasons, have no connection with their father and/or feel indifferent to taking his last name as a priority; people of legal age who have a bond with their father, but, for various reasons, prefer to take their mother’s first; mothers and fathers who agree to do it that way, etc.

    “Any person who wishes to make a change in the order of their surnames must make the request to the TSE -Civil Registry- once the Court’s ruling is issued in full. It is necessary to highlight that, in the case of minors, it is predictable that the order of surnames must be defined by common agreement between the mother and father. In case of disagreement and controversy, the procedures – whether at the administrative or judicial level – must be followed to establish what is appropriate,” said Olivares.

    There are various cases, in which solution procedures must be established, for example:

    ● A person who is currently a minor: It may happen that the mother or father wants to use this new possibility and change their surnames, but the other does not agree. What kind of authority will decide disagreements between parents?

    ● A person at birth: Who will determine, at least preliminarily, the order in case of disagreement between the mother and father?

    ● What effects will it have on the composition of the names of the sons and/or daughters of people of legal age who now choose to change their surnames?

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