Legitimacy Act 1976

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1976 c. 31


Legitimacy Act 1976

1976 CHAPTER 31

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating tolegitimacy.

[22nd July 1976]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Legitimacy of children of certain void marriages.

1 Legitimacy of children of certain void marriages.

(1) The child of a void marriage, whenever born, shall, subject to subsection (2) below and Schedule 1 to this Act, be treated as the legitimate child of his parents if at the time of the act of intercourse resulting in the birth (or at the time of the celebration of the marriage if later) both or either of the parties reasonably believed that the marriage was valid.

(2) This section only applies where the father of the child was domiciled in England and Wales at the time of the birth or, if he died before the birth, was so domiciled immediately before his death.

S-2 Legitimation by subsequent marriage of parents.

2 Legitimation by subsequent marriage of parents.

2. Subject to the following provisions of this Act, where the parents of an illegitimate person marry one another, the marriage shall, if the father of the illegitimate person is at the date of marriage domiciled in England and Wales, render that person, if living legitimate from the date of the marriage.

S-3 Legitimation by extraneous law.

3 Legitimation by extraneous law.

3. Subject to the following provisions of this Act, where the parents of an illegitimate person marry one another and the father of the illegitimate person is not at the time of the marriage domiciled in England and Wales but is domiciled in a country by the law of which the illegitimate person became legitimated by virtue of such subsequent marriage, that person, if living, shall in England and Wales be recognised as having been so legitimated from the date of the marriage notwithstanding that, at the time of his birth, his father was domiciled in a country the law of which did not permit legitimation by subsequent marriage.

S-4 Legitimation of adopted child.

4 Legitimation of adopted child.

(1) Paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1975 does not prevent an adopted child being legitimated under section 2 or 3 above if either natural parent is the sole adoptive parent.

(2) Where an adopted child (with a sole adoptive parent) is legitimated—

(a ) sub-paragraph (2) of the said paragraph 3 shall not apply after the legitimation to the natural relationship with the other natural parent, and

(b ) revocation of the adoption order in consequence of the legitimation shall not affect Part II of the said Schedule 1 as it applies to any instrument made before the date of legitimation.

S-5 Rights of legitimated persons and others to take interests in property.

5 Rights of legitimated persons and others to take interests in property.

(1) Subject to any contrary indication, the rules of construction contained in this section apply to any instrument other than an existing instrument, so far as the instrument contains a disposition of property.

(2) For the purposes of this section, provisions of the law of intestate succession applicable to the estate of a deceased person shall be treated as if contained in an instrument executed by him (while of full capacity) immediately before his death.

(3) A legitimated person, and any other person, shall be entitled to take any interest as if the legitimated person had been born legitimate.

(4) A disposition which depends on the date of birth of a child or children of the parent or parents shall be construed as if—

(a ) a legitimated child had been born on the date of legitimation,

(b ) two or more legitimated children legitimated on the same date had been born on that date in the order of their actual births,

but this does not affect any reference to the age of a child

(5) Examples of phrases in wills on which subsection (4) above can operate are—

S-1

1. Children of A ‘living at my death or born afterwards’.

S-2

2. Children of A ‘living at my death or born afterwards before any one of such children for the time being in existence attains a vested interest, and who attain the age of 21 years’.

S-3

3. As in example 1 or 2, but referring to grandchildren of A, instead of children of A.

S-4

4. A for life ‘until he has a child’ and then to his child or children.

Note . Subsection (4) above will not affect the reference to the age of 21 years in example 2.

(6) If an illegitimate person or a person adopted by one of his natural parents dies, or has died before the commencement of this Act, and—

(a ) after his death his parents marry or have married; and

(b ) the deceased would, if living at the time of the marriage, have become a legitimated person,

this section shall apply for the construction of the instrument so far as it relates to the taking of interests by, or in successsion to, his spouse, children and remoter issue as if he had been legitimated by virtue of the marriage.

(7) In this section ‘instrument’ includes a private Act settling property, but not any other enactment.

S-6 Dispositions depending on date of birth.

6 Dispositions depending on date of birth.

(1) Where a disposition depends on the date of birth of a child who was born illegitimate and who is legitimated (or, if deceased, is treated as legitimated), section 5(4) above does not affect entitlement under Part II of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 (illegitimate children).

(2) Where a disposition depends on the date of birth of an adopted child who is legitimated (or, if deceased, is treated as legitimated) section 5(4) above does not affect entitlement by virtue of paragraph 6(2) of Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1975 .

(3) This section applies for example where—

(a ) a testator dies in 1976 bequeathing a legacy to his eldest grandchild living at a specified time,

(b ) his daughter has an illegitimate child in 1977 who is the first grandchild,

(c ) his married son has a child in 1978,

(d ) subsequently the illegitimate child is legitimated,

and in all those cases the daughter's child remains the eldest grandchild of the testator throughout.

S-7 Protection of trustees and personal representatives.

7 Protection of trustees and personal representatives.

(1) A trustee or personal representative is not under a duty, by virtue of the law relating to trusts or the administration of estates, to enquire, before conveying or distributing any property, whether any person is illegitimate or has been adopted by one of his natural parents, and could be legitimated (or if deceased be treated as legitimated), if that fact could affect entitlement to the property.

(2) A trustee or personal representative shall not be liable to any person by reason of a conveyance or distribution of the property made without regard to any such fact if he has not received notice of the fact before the conveyance or distribution.

(3) This section does not prejudice the right of a person to follow the property, or any property representing it, into the hands of another person, other than a purchaser, who has received it.

S-8 Personal rights and obligations.

8 Personal rights and obligations.

8. A legitimated person shall have the same rights, and shall be under the same obligations in respect of the maintenance and support of himself or of any other person as if he had been born legitimate, and, subject to the provisions of this Act, the provisions of any Act relating to claims for damages, compensation, allowance, benefit or otherwise by or in respect of a legitimate child shall apply in like manner in the case of a legitimated person.

S-9 Re-registration of birth of legitimated person.

9 Re-registration of birth of legitimated person.

(1) 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.

(2) The failure of the parents or either of them to furnish information as required by subsection (1) above in respect of any legitimated person shall not affect the legitimation of that person.

(3) This section does not apply in relation to a person who was legitimated...

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