Why do you have to re-register the birth of your child?

April 25, 2017

There are two reasons as to why you would do this: –

To add the name of the father onto the birth certificate, whether by choice or due to a Court Order;

If the parents have married since the birth of their child.

Point numbered 1 above is widely known but it seems that point numbered 2 comes as quite a surprise to parents.

The law is rather outdated. It relates to a time when illegitimate children could not inherit from their parents.

The Administration of Estates Act 1925 changed the medieval rule that land passed on death to the eldest son (otherwise known as the heir) and since then the rule has evolved further to take account of situations where the deceased did not have sons who survived them and thus allowed other children to inherit. This meant that all children could inherit but they could only do so if they were legitimate, in other words, if their parents were already married when they were born.

The Legitimacy Act 1926 enabled a child to be classed as ‘legitimate’ as long as their parents married after their birth (provided that they had not been married to someone else at the time of conception) and provided the parents re-registered the child’s birth after marriage so that the same is evidenced on the child’s birth certificate.

What surprises parents is that there is a legal requirement set down in The Legitimacy Act 1926 which states “that it shall be the duty of the parents of a legitimated person or, in cases where re-registration can be effected on information furnished by one parent and one of the parents is dead, of the surviving parent to furnish to the Registrar General information with a view to obtaining the re-registration of the birth of that person within 3 months after the date of the marriage by virtue of which he was legitimated”.

It seems that the legal requirement referred to above only really becomes apparent when either: –

a Registrar mentions it to you when you register a child for the first time or;

At a wedding. If the Registrar is conducting the wedding ceremony and becomes aware that you already have a child together they will advise that you should re-register the birth of that child.

The Legitimacy Act 1926 Act also states that any parent who fails to give information as required by the Act shall be liable for a fine not exceeding….£2! Furthermore, the Act states that the failure of the parents to furnish the information referred to in the Act shall not affect the legitimation of that child. So, this begs the question, what is the point to this rule?

In reality, legitimacy has no effect on inheritance as the Family Law Reform Act 1969 gave illegitimate children the right to inherit on the death of a parent.

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