In Singapore, a child is legitimate where they were either born or conceived when their parents were validly married to each other.
According to section 111(1) of the Women’s Charter (“WCH”), children born out of voidable marriages are legitimate. However, section 111(2) of the WCH states that children born out of void marriages are only legitimate only if one or both parents had reasonably believed that the marriage was valid.
Presumption of Legitimacy
Following section 114(1) of the Evidence Act, where any person was born:
- During the continuance of a valid marriage between his mother and any man; or
- Within 280 days after the dissolution of the marriage, the mother remains unmarried, it shall be presumed that the person is the legitimate child of the man, unless the contrary is proven.
The contrary is only proven where the parties had no access to each other, there was different DNA, or any other acceptable scientific method.
For instance, in the case of WX v WW  3 SLR(R) 573, a child was born to a married woman who had had sexual relations with a third party and the Husband. Therefore, there was access between the Husband and Wife. The Wife had adduced a paternity test that eliminated the Husband as the child’s father. The third party held that it was sufficient enough to hold that the third party was the child’s father.
Effect of Legitimacy: Inheritance
In an event of inheritance with no will, section 3 of the Interstate Succession Act states that a ‘child’ within the section refers to a legitimate child. Thus, a legitimate child gets inheritance whilst an illegitimate child has no inheritance.
However, where there is a will provided, both legitimate and illegitimate children will receive a share or not, in accordance to what it states.
Effect of Legitimacy: Citizenship
Citizenship by birth: A legitimate child born in Singapore is a Singaporean citizen if either parent is a Singapore citizen. An illegitimate child is only a citizen where their mother is a Singapore citizen.
Citizenship by descent: A legitimate child born out of Singapore is a citizen if either parent is a Singapore citizen. An illegitimate child born out of Singapore is a citizen only if their mother is a Singapore citizen.
Legitimation by subsequent marriage between parties
In an event where two parents subsequently re-marry each other after the child is born, or the child is adopted by their own parents (or another couple under the Adoption of Children Act), section 3 of the Legitimacy Act applies. The child can then be legitimised.
Where you might require more advice and consultancy about your case and the legal procedures, it is ideal to consult a lawyer for guidance and representation. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.