‘Legitimacy’s Uncertainties: Exploring the Presumption’s Premises’

Andrew J Counter, Always Uncertain: The Presumption of Legitimacy in Two fins de siècle, 26 Law and Literature 65 (2014). The presumption of legitimacy is one of Euro-American family law’s most venerable doctrines. Under this well-known rule, a woman’s husband is presumed to be the father of any child conceived during marriage. Throughout the ages, the substance of the doctrine has been remarkably consistent: With relatively modest changes, it can be traced from Roman law through Canon Law, Civil Law, and the Common Law – and until recently, into the parentage statutes of a majority of US states. But, as Susan Appleton correctly observed nine years ago, this ancient rule is now at a crossroads. On the one hand, it has been eroded by the rise of genetic paternity tests and the demise of laws that discriminate against children born out of wedlock. On the other hand, it has been given a second wind by extension to same-sex married couples and couples who use ART, who vigorously guard its value as a protection for their children. As a result, we are now at a particularly useful vantage point to review the promises of the presumption itself …” (more)

[Clifford Rosky, JOTWELL, 17 July]

First posted 2015-07-17 17:55:04

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