By establishing a parentage link with the child, the parent has parental authority over the child, gives them their name and makes them an heir.

For a woman, parentage is self-evident: childbirth designates her as the baby’s mother and her name is automatically recorded on the birth certificate after the child has been declared. The declaration of birth must be made within five days of the day of delivery. The birth is declared by the father, or failing that, by the doctor, midwife or any other person who attended the birth.

In some hospitals, a civil registrar is on duty in the maternity ward to record birth declarations. Otherwise, the declaration will take place at the town hall of the place of birth. The birth certificate is drafted immediately by a registrar.

Married parents

Parentage with respect to the mother is established by the indication of her name on the birth certificate (except for anonymous childbirth). The husband is presumed to be the father of the child: his name is also entered on the birth certificate.

Unmarried parents

Here again, maternal parentage is automatically established by the indication of the mother’s name on the birth certificate. The father must recognise the child at the town hall of the place of birth so that paternal parentage is established. He can do this when declaring the birth.

Parentage by adoption

Adoption creates a relationship of parentage established by a judge’s decision.

Full adoption creates a new relationship of parentage between the child and the adopting parent which supplants the one they had with the family of origin, except in the case of full adoption of a spouse’s child.

Simple adoption creates a new relationship of parentage between the adopter and the adoptee, which coexists with the existing parentage relationship with the family of origin.

Parentage by “possession of status”

This is the recognition of a de facto situation: the parent behaves with the child as if they had always been their child (they have named them, raised them as their child, their family or friends recognise them as such, etc.).

This “possession of status” will be noted in an affidavit issued by the district court which will then be mentioned on the birth certificate.

Parentage by legal action

Action to determine paternity or maternity makes it possible to formally establish a link of biological parentage between a child and their biological father or mother.

Worth knowing

When a child has already established maternal or paternal parentage, no other claim to maternity or paternity is in principle possible, except in order to resort to adoption.


Reference text:

Circular of 28 October 2011 on various civil status records relating to birth and parentage