July 4, 2005

No more illegitimate children in France – ministry

PARIS (Reuters) - France abolished the legal terms"legitimate" and "illegitimate" for children Monday with adecree saying the distinction dating back to the NapoleonicCode of 1804 made no sense anymore.

Abolishing the terms brings France's civil code in linewith laws passed in recent years banning discrimination --especially for inheritance -- between children born in oroutside of a marriage, a Justice Ministry communique said.

About 46 percent of French babies are now born out ofwedlock, compared to about 10 percent in the 1970s, and almost90 percent of them are claimed by both parents.

"The decree abandons the notions of 'legitimate' and'natural' descent, which have lost all legal and practicalsignificance since legislation has created full equality amongchildren regardless of their descent," the communique said.

The decree will take effect in July 2006, it added.

The other rules for paternity will remain unchanged -- amarried man is assumed to be the father of his wife's childwhile an unmarried man must recognize a baby as his.