Legitimacy Act 1959

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Legitimacy Act 1959
Long title An Act to amend the Legitimacy Act, 1926, to legitimate the children of certain void marriages, and otherwise to amend the law relating to children born out of wedlock.
Royal assent 29 July 1959
Other legislation
Repealed by Family Law Reform Act 1987
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Legitimacy Act 1959 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was repealed by the Family Law Reform Act 1987.[1]


Prior to the passing of the Act, legitimacy was governed by the Legitimacy Act 1926. Under that act, the marriage of a child's parents after its birth did not legitimise it when one of the parents was married to a third person at the birth of the child. Although the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce recommended keeping this on the statute books by a vote of twelve to seven, Section 1 repealed this and allowed a child to be legitimised when his parents married, regardless of their past status. This was retroactive; if a child's parents were married when the Act came into force, the child was legitimised.[2]

Section 2 legitimised the children born of void marriages, provided that both or either parents reasonably believed that the marriages were valid and entered into in good faith (such as a marriage below the age of consent, where both wife and husband believed they are above it).,.[3][4] Section 2(3) of the Legitimacy Act 1959 provided also that section 2 applied only where the father of the child was domiciliated in England.


  1. "Lexis@Library: Document". LexisNexis. Retrieved 30 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Kahn-Freud (1960) p.56
  3. Kahn-Freud (1960) p.58
  4. Section 2 of the Legitimacy Act 1959