It is now a norm that women either keep their own names when they marry or hyphenate their own names with that of their spouse. And yet this norm does not yet apply to the children. But the Constitutional court in Italy is changing that. It just overturned the tradition that a child is only given the father’s name and ruled that they should be given that of both parents. It said that the current practice was detrimental to the identity of the child. In its statement however the court said that both parents need to make the decision. They can decide the order in which the names appear or even decide on only one name. The court’s decision though is only a beginning. Parliament now needs to take it up and legislation needs to be passed in order to implement it. But the Family minister is taking up the issue and said that it should be a high priority and an urgent tasks for politicians to be involved.
Italy’s constitutional court’s decision is a first. No one else has so openly decreed that a child ought to have both his parents surnames. While it does look like the parliament will indeed take it up, in a way it no longer matters what happens. It’s like putting toothpaste back in a tube. It’s surprising that it took so long for the issue to be officially raised and be declared a part of a child’s identity. It’s so logical. I don’t know which country will take it up next, but I do know that many parents have begun to give their children both surnames, or some combinations that acknowledges both sides. It may be that whether or not it is ever made into law anywhere will be secondary if not superfluous.