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Understanding The Issues To Modern Legitimacy

Modern Legitimacy

Modern day legitimacy issues are much different from the issues that surrounded illegitimate children in inheritance rights long ago.

Legal Considerations:

Most of the laws governing important policies are equal when it comes to illegitimate or legitimate children. For centuries, the two operated on completely different sets of laws. Illegitimate children were even denied many of the basic civil rights that legitimate children had.

The number of children born to unmarried parents became high enough that a demand for change was created. When it comes to legal considerations, the basis for laws involving illegitimate children stem from the 14th Amendmen to the United States Constitution. In Levy v. Louisiana, the court determined that the children of a deceased woman had a right to file a wrongful death suit in her name regardless of the fact that they were illegitimate.

Reasons for Less Social Concern:

As the number of children born out of wedlock increases, the social concern that follows unmarried parents diminishes. In the United States, about one in four children born are born out of wedlock. That high number as well as several other factors have helped remove the stigma.

Politics of Legitimacy:

Politics is one of the few places place that legitimacy still matters. Traditional family values dictate that each home should be made up of a married couple and their children. Gay couples and single parent homes have no place in this equation. Politicians, especially conservative ones tend to follow this old fashioned way of life. Many problems in society are blamed on the erosion of the traditional family unit. These problems include everything from gang violence to poor grades in school.

Many young unwed mothers are on Government assistance and politicians will often use this as a jumping off point when attacking people who have children out of wedlock. It is harder to use this argument against older, financially stable women who choose to have children alone.

Implications of Donated Sperm:

Women who choose to use sperm donations to have children are called single mothers by choice. Statistically, these women are usually in their mid-30s to 40s and are successful in their careers. They may reach the age where they want children and fear that age will soon prevent them from being able to conceive. Even though they have circumstances that are completely different from that of an unwed teenage mother, they are both technically having children out of wedlock.


Legally, legitimacy is still important when it comes to determining a child's citizenship. In the Untied States, a child's status is determined by Jus Soli, Latin for "place of birth." If a child is born in the United States, the child is automatically a citizen of the United States. It doesn't matter whether or not the mother and father are citizens of the United States.

Many other countries prefer the method of Jus Sanguinis when it comes to determining citizenship. Jus Sanguinis follows a rule of determining a child's citizenship status based on that of their parents. If a child is legitimate, then they are legally citizens of their father's country of citizenship. If the child is illegitimate, then he or she is a citizen of their mother's country.

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