Use of Paternal Family Name Case

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Petitioners applied for constitutional review of Article 781(1) of the Civil Code which stated that "a child shall follow the family name of the father." The Constitutional Court held that the civil code provision requiring a child to follow the father's family name is unconstitutional. The court held that "such unilateral requirement to follow the father's family name and disallow use of the mother's name violates individual dignity and sexual equality." In addition, the court held that "forcing one to use only his original father's family name and not allowing a name change infringes on the individual's right to personality." The concurring opinion stated that the civil code provision also results in discrimination against women, and found no legislative purpose for such discrimination. (Article 36(1) of the South Korean Constitution guarantees individual dignity in marriage and family.)



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