The Italian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the legal rule that every child must be attributed the father’s surname at birth or adoption or in case of recognition by both parents (joint recognition), and cannot also be attributed the mother’s surname, even if requested by both parents. This article examines the legal arguments raised by the Court, especially the finding that the provision for automatic and absolute priority to the father’s surname sacrifices the child’s right to identity and violates the principles of equality and equal dignity between parents, guaranteed by the Italian Constitution and the European legislation. The right to a name, within a family, can be fully guaranteed by allowing the mother to attribute her surname, or by securing the right of the child to the acquisition of identification marks from both parents. The article emphasizes several themes: the analysis of previous Italian and European jurisprudence on the matter; the radical changes following the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty; the problems arising from the double surname attributed to a recognized child, or to a dual citizenship child; and the future scenarios arising from the important and historical pronunciation of unconstitutionality, given the dynamism of the legal system.
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