Italy court says kids should take surnames of both parents

Court says laws requiring children to take father's name are unlawful and discriminatory.

Italian rules requiring children to be given automatically only their father’s surname are unlawful, the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling by Italy's top court refers to children born to married and unmarried parents as well as those who are adopted, reports Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The court defined rules that automatically assign the father's surname to children as "discriminatory and harmful to the identity of the child."

Children should be given the surnames of both parents, the court said, in the order agreed on by the parents. If they cannot decide on the order of the surnames, the decision will be up to a judge.

The child's parents may also decide, by mutual agreement, to assign the surname of just one or the other.

New legislation, to be approved by the Italian parliament in the coming weeks, will be required to implement the court's decision.

The historic ruling results from a case taken by a family with three children from Potenza in the southern Basilicata region, reports Rome newspaper Domani.

The first two children in the family were registered with the mother's surname however the third was automatically given the father's surname as he was born after his parents got married.

The parents objected as they wanted the boy to have the same surname - the mother's surname - as his two sisters.

Giampaolo Birenza and Domenico Pittella, the lawyers who brought the case to the constitutional court, hailed today's "historic result" which they say represents a "small revolution".