How is filiation proved?

There are four ways to prove filiation between you and your child:

Act of birth

Whatever the circumstances of your child’s birth, you can prove filiation by presenting the child’s act of birth.

The act of birth is an official document that records a child’s birth and establishes the child’s filiation. It is drawn up by the registrar of civil status using:

Uninterrupted possession of status

In some situations, the registrar of civil status cannot issue a copy of a child's act of birth, for example when: 

  • the child's birth was not declared as required;
  • the child's father recognized the filiation at a later date.

In such a case, to prove your child's filiation with you, you must be able to show that the child has uninterrupted possession of status. 

To do this, you must present all the facts that demonstrate your child's relationship with you, such as:

  • the fact that you brought up the child;
  • the fact that you recognized the child as your own;
  • the fact that the child is recognized by others as being your child.

After the register of civil status has been corrected, you or you child will be able to obtain a copy of the child's act of birth or apply for a passport, to take two examples.

Example: the child's parents fail to declare their child's birth

Valery is born in a hospital, but her parents, Luke and Isabelle, fail to declare her birth to the registrar of civil status, believing that the entry of the birth in the hospital registers is enough to prove filiation. As a result, the registrar of civil status cannot issue Valery's act of birth.

However, if Valery can show that she really is Luke and Isabelle's daughter, was brought up by them and has always been recognized as their child, she will have proved her filiation with Luke and Isabelle on an uninterrupted basis, and this filiation will be entered in the register of civil status. Thanks to this correction, Valery will now be able to obtain her act of birth.

Legal presumption of paternity

You are presumed to be the father of a child born:

  • during your marriage or civil union to the child’s mother;
  • less than 300 days after the annulment or dissolution of your marriage or civil union with the child’s mother;
  • more than 300 days after that date, if you have resumed living with the child’s mother.

This is known as a legal presumption of paternity.

End of the presumption of paternity

You will no longer presumed to be the father if the child concerned was born after the mother married or formed a civil union with another person.

The mother’s new spouse will be presumed to be the child’s father.

Example:

Louise obtained a divorce from Richard in January, when she was already pregnant. Since she gave birth to Nicholas in June, Richard is presumed to be the child’s father, since less than 300 days elapsed between the divorce and the birth. 

However, if Louise had married her new spouse, Francis, before the child’s birth, Francis would have been Nicholas’s presumed father.

De facto spouses and same-sex couples in a civil union

The presumptions of paternity and parenthood do not apply to de facto spouses in a same-sex or opposite-sex union, and the presumption of paternity does not apply to same-sex spouses in a civil union.

Child conceived through assisted procreation

A similar presumption, known as the presumption of parenthood, exists for a child born through assisted procreation. Under this presumption, the mother’s spouse is the child’s father, or other mother in the case of a same-sex couple.

Voluntary acknowledgement

You can establish filiation by voluntary acknowledgement. As the child’s mother or father, you can make a written declaration, made before a notary or not, voluntarily acknowledging the child and attesting to paternity or maternity.

You can acknowledge filiation in this way only if it cannot be proved by:

  • act of birth;
  • uninterrupted possession of status;
  • presumption of paternity.

Your voluntary acknowledgement is binding only on you, and cannot disprove a filiation already established by an act of birth, except if it is contested before the courts.

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