Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Born Out of Wedlock Definition:

Born of parents who were not married at the time of birth.

Related Terms: Bastard, Marriage, Child of the Marriage, Ex-nuptial Child, Illegitimate Child, Legitimate Child

Also known as born out of lawful matrimony.

Children born of a mother and a father who were not married at the time of birth; who are not in wedlock.

In the 3rd Edition of Halsbury, §137:

"Child born out of wedlock. A bastard or illegitimate child is one born out of lawful wedlock. A child may be born out of lawful wedlock, either because he is the child of a woman who is not lawfully married at all, or because he is the child of a woman who is lawfully married, but upon whom he is begotten by another than her lawful husband."

Phipson on Evidence:

"The legitimacy of a child born during wedlock is presumed; but if its parents are shown to have been judicially separated or to have been living apart under an order more than nine months before its birth, the presumption is reversed."

The Michigan Paternity Act, circa 2011 (§722.711 of the Michigan Compiled Laws):

"Child born out of wedlock means a child begotten and born to a woman who was not married from the conception to the date of birth of the child, or a child that the court has determined to be a child born or conceived during a marriage but not the issue of that marriage."

These children are known to the law as bastards.

The distinction is diminished in many jurisdictions with succession and other rights and entitlements equalized as between children of a marriage relationship as for those born within a common-law relationship.


  • F. (H.M.) v. F. (D.H.), 6 R.F.L. 344 (Nova Scotia County Court, 1972)
  • Malek, H., Phipson on Evidence, 16th Ed. (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 3005), page 137.

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