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Getting Married After Baby - The Legitimacy Act 1976

I’m getting married, woooohoo! After four years of engagement, I’ll be Mrs Hodgkins on the 19th of January 2019.

We already have Max, who is technically illegitimate (not that this really matters to us), but there is a little-known law that often surprises couples who choose marriage after starting their family, as many registrars neglect to make marrying couples aware of this requirement…

You have to re-register the birth of your children born to the person you are marrying as per The Legitimacy Act 1976!

I’ve spoken about this to the many friends and relatives I have who weren’t aware, and most of them never did this – it isn’t particularly well publicised, although it was mentioned to us when we registered Max’s birth. It should be done regardless of whether the daddy is already on the birth certificate.

Katharine Marshall, associate solicitor at WHN Solicitors has told Manchester Evening News: “When people who already have children together get married, under the Legitimacy Act 1976 parents must re-register the birth of their children, regardless of whether the natural father was included on the child’s birth certificate at the time of original registration. You need to do this through a form LA1.

The re-registration is not to grant the father parental responsibility – he’d already have this as an unmarried father, provided he was included on the original birth certificate – but for the child to be recognised as a ‘child of the marriage’.

The Legitimacy Act 1976 stems from days when the legitimacy of a child would impact inheritance, but this no longer applies, provided there’s proof they’re a child of the parent – yet the Legitimacy Act 1976 remains.”

How do I re-register my child?

  • Fill out a form LA1 – you can view form LA1 here!
  • Take or send the form to the registrar of births and deaths for the district where your child was born, or to some other registrar near you if you’ve moved.
  • Include the following documents;
    – child’s birth certificate
    – your marriage certificate
    – any document asked for in Section 5, and
    – if the child or a parent is not living, the death certificate(s) if available
    • If the registrar needs to refer your application to the General Register Office and you do not want to part with your original documents, the Gov.UK site states that you can ask at the register office whether your documents can be photocopied and posted to the address at the bottom of this section.
    • If you cannot get to a register office in England and Wales for the re-registration of your child, you need to send your application directly to the General Register Office, GRO Corrections, PO Box 476, Southport PR8 2WJ.

Can I get into trouble if I don’t?

This is a total grey area. The law is considered outdated, as it originates from a time where illegitimacy affected inheritance rights, but these days it is very unlikely that you would be fined. According to the aforementioned solicitor, the fine is a nominal £2, but it goes without saying that the act is pretty old fashioned. It’s probably better safe than sorry, though.

As a legal requirement, this law really needs to be better communicated to couples with preexisting children who are getting hitched!

Did YOU know about this law? Tell us your experiences in the comments!

Love from Katie. Xx

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