French court recognises brother and sister as parents

Family Law|September 21st 2017

A brother and sister who had a romantic relationship before knowing they were related have both been legally recognised as the parents of their child.

The couple had the same mother but were raised in separate foster homes in France’s north-eastern Aube region. They met and began a relationship in 2006 but broke up shortly before their daughter was born three years later. They only discovered their family ties when they applied for their child’s birth certificate.

Under French law, any child born from an incestuous relationship cannot have both parents recognised. This is articulated by Article 310-2 of the country’s Civil Code, which states that only one of them can be named on the birth certificate. However, the parents in this case submitted both of their names anyway.

When their action was discovered, a court in the north-west of France ruled that the mother’s name should be taken off the document because the father’s name had been registered first. Under Article 310-2, this meant the mother was therefore ineligible to be recognised as a parent, even though the girl had been living with her for her entire life.

Upset at this ruling, the mother took her case to the Court of Appeal in the port city of Caen in Normandy. Despite the terms of the Civil Code, the judges decided to overturn the previous court order. They noted that the father did not contest the mother’s parenthood and did not “appear to have kept any particularly close relationship with his daughter”. If the mother’s recognition as the girl’s parent was annulled, it “would have damaging consequences for the child” they declared.

The decision was welcomed by the father, who “was the first to say that if a parental tie were to go, it had to be his” because he had not raised her, his lawyer said afterwards.

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