In North Carolina, for a child of an unmarried couple to gain all of the legal rights as if their parents were married when the child was conceived, the child must go through a process called legitimation. Unlike paternity, which focuses on establishing a man as a child’s father for the purposes of child support obligations, legitimation focuses on the child’s rights. Most often legitimation is done for the purposes of a child being able to inherit from his parents and for the status of being legally recognized as the child of the parent.
You likely need to file for legitimation if one of the following is similar to your situation and you want your biological child to be legitimized.
- A child is born out of wedlock and the parents do not get married; or
- A married woman has a child with a man who is not her husband.
If you were not married to the mother of your child when the child was born, but you subsequently married the mother, you do not need to file for legitimation, because in this case, the child also becomes legitimated automatically.
It is also important to note, even if your child has reached the age of 18, you can still file for a legitimation. But in any event only the child’s biological father can bring an action to have their child declared legitimate.