Legitimacy





A child born in wedlock is presumed to have the mother's husband for its

father. This may, however, be open to question upon the following

grounds: Absence or death of the reputed father; impotence or disease in

the husband preventing matrimonial intercourse; premature delivery in a

newly-married woman; want of access; and the marriage of the woman again

immediately on the death of her husband. In the last case, where either

husband might have been the father, the child at the age of twenty-one

is at liberty to select its father from the possible pair.



A child born of parents before marriage is in Scotland rendered

legitimate by their subsequent marriage, but in England the offspring

remains illegitimate whether the parents marry or not after its birth.

The offspring of voidable or invalid marriages may be made legitimate

by application to the courts.



There is a difference between being legitimate and lawfully begotten. A

child born in wedlock is legitimate, but if the parents were married

only a week previously it could not have been lawfully begotten.



The Acts and rulings relating to Marriage and Legitimacy are extremely

complicated. It is not putting it too strongly to say that a very large

number of people in this country who believe themselves to be legally

married are not married at all, and that thousands of children who have

not the slightest doubt as to their legitimacy are in the eyes of the

law bastards.





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