As solicitors we get asked questions every day and many times they are the same questions from different people. In the Ask Eleanor blog I will be answering some of the questions that I have been asked a lot, or have overheard whilst out and about. Hopefully I’ll be debunking a few legal myths in the process and you can get the answers you want to find!
Apparently we have to re-register our children’s births after we get married. Why?”
This is a rule most people don’t know about unless the Registrar warns them when they register their child’s birth for the first time – if a child’s natural parents get married after they are born, their birth has to be re-registered. When people do find out, they are baffled at why this is.
The law is rather outdated. It stems from a time when illegitimate children could not inherit from their parents. In 1925 the Administration of Estates Act changed the previous rule that land had to be inherited by the first born son and land was now shared by all children. However, these children would only be entitled if they were legitimate – if their parents had been married when they were born. It was relatively common for parents to be forced into marriage after a child was born to spare their families shame, but this rule meant their first child would be without any inheritance, despite all other siblings being entitled.
To counter this, the Legitimacy Act 1926 made a child born out of wedlock ‘legitimate’ if their parents married at any point after their birth (as long as the mother wasn’t married to someone else when they were born!). To ensure all previously illegitimate children benefited from this new law, it was necessary to make all parents re-register the child’s birth after marriage so that their birth certificates evidenced that they were the natural child of married people.
These days, legitimacy has no effect on inheritance and so the rule may seem a bit pointless, but it has likely been kept in order to easily keep track of births, deaths and marriages – maybe it will be of benefit to future historians and geneologists.
The next question parents usually ask is ‘how long do I have to re-register?’ Most people I know have been told there’s no rush and they can re-register whenever they get round to it, as long as it’s before the child is 18. However, officially the law as amended by the Legitimacy Act 1976 states that parents have a duty to re-register within 3 months of the date of marriage. The good news for parents like me who haven’t quite got round to it yet is that failure to re-register is subject to a maximum penalty of a fine…of two pounds.
Eleanor Robinson is a trainee solicitor with Edward Hands and Lewis based within the Leicester office and Commercial property department. If you would like to contact Eleanor click here
Andrew is a Commercial & Employment Law solicitor in Leicester. Our Solicitors in Leicester are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Leicester please contact us.
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