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Knowing the Legal Rights of a Child Born to Unmarried Parents

Providing expert legal services for civil, family, construction, wills and estates and business law.

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Knowing the Legal Rights of a Child Born to Unmarried Parents

In Canada, children born outside of marriage are entitled to the same legal rights and protections as children born within marriage. However, there are still some legal complexities that parents should be aware of to ensure their children’s rights are protected. This article will outline the legal rights of children born outside of marriage in Canada and guide parents in navigating the legal system to protect their children’s rights.

Legal Status

In Canada, children born outside of marriage have the same legal status as those born within marriage. They are entitled to the same legal rights and protections, including the right to financial support, inheritance, and custody arrangements. The child is entitled to a birth certificate and can use their mother’s surname, father’s surname, or a combination of both. However, suppose the parents do not formally acknowledge paternity. In that case, the child may not have legal recognition of their father and the father may not have legal rights or responsibilities towards the child. Parents need to establish legal parentage and custody arrangements to protect the child’s rights

Custody and Access

Once legal parentage has been established, the father may seek custody or access to the child. Custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, while access refers to the right to spend time with the child. In Canada, the child’s best interests are the primary consideration in custody and access decisions.

If the parents cannot agree on custody and access, they may need to go to court to have a judge decide. In making custody and access decisions, the court will consider various factors, including the child’s age, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs.

Registering and Naming

After the father’s legal parentage has been established, it is vital to register the child’s birth and choose a name for the child. In Canada, birth registration must be done within 30 days of the child’s birth. This can usually be done at the hospital or through the provincial vital statistics agency. Parents must sign the birth registration form, which includes information such as the child’s name, date of birth, and parent’s names. 

If the father is unknown or refuses to acknowledge paternity, the mother can still register the birth and provide her information. However, if the father’s identity is later established, the birth registration can be amended to include his information.

Child Support

Parents are legally obligated to support their children financially, regardless of whether they are married. In Canada, child support is calculated based on the income of the paying parent and the number of children they are required to support.

If the parents cannot agree on child support, they may need to go to court to have a judge decide. The court will consider the income of both parents, the number of children requiring support, and the child’s needs in deciding on child support.

Sometimes, a father may be required to pay retroactive child support if they were unaware they were the child’s father. This can occur if the father did not sign a Declaration of Paternity or obtain a court order establishing legal parentage.

Inheritance Rights

Children born outside of marriage are entitled to inherit from their parents, just like children born within marriage. However, there may be some legal complexities that parents should be aware of to ensure their children’s inheritance rights are protected.

A father may need to take steps to ensure their child is included in their will. If the father does not have a will, their assets may be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which may not provide for the child.

Conclusion

Canada’s legal system recognizes that children born outside of marriage have the same rights as children born within marriage. Parents should be aware of any legal complexities and take steps to ensure their child is included in their will if necessary. It’s important to ensure that all children, regardless of their birth status, are provided for and protected in the event of the parent’s death. By understanding your children’s legal rights and taking steps to protect those rights, parents can ensure that their children are protected and provided for.

Discover how Pathfinder Law can help you navigate the complexities of family law in Abbotsford. We can assist you in creating a will that includes all of your children and ensures their legal rights are protected. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers.

Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You should not rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of your particular situation.