What are the Conditions for a Valid Acknowledgement of Paternity under Muslim Law?
(1) The child acknowledged must not be an offspring of illicit intercourse (Zina). The sexual intercourse between the child’s mother and the acknowledger must not be unlawful at the time when the child would have possibly beer, conceived or born. That is to say, the child’s mother was not within prohibited relationship of the acknowledger or was not the wife of another person at the time of conception of the child.
The child’s mother should also not be a triply (irrevocably) divorced wife of the acknowledger himself at the time when the child could have been begotten, while the legal bar of remarriage was yet to be removed.
In short, a lawful marriage between the child’s mother and the acknowledger must have been possible under Muslim law when the child was conceived or took birth. If such a marriage was not possible there can be no acknowledgement.
(2) The paternity of the child must be uncertain before the acknowledgement. That is to say, the child must not be the offspring of any other known person. If it is proved that some other person is the father of that child, the acknowledger cannot accept it as his own child.
(3) There must be such difference in the respective age of the acknowledger and the child which conforms to a father child relationship. If the acknowledger is equal in age or is younger to the acknowledged person the acknowledgement of paternity would be void on its very face because they would not appear to be father and child. According to Baillie, the acknowledger must be at least twelve and half years older than the person acknowledged.
(4) The acknowledgement of paternity by a person must not only be an acceptance of the child as his son or daughter; it should also be to the effect that he has accepted the child as his legitimate child for all purposes including inheritance.
There must be clear intention on the part of the acknowledged that he has not only accepted to become father of the child but also accepted the child as his legitimate issue. Casual love and affection towards a child is not sufficient to confer legitimacy on that child.
(5) Under Muslim law, there is a provision that the acknowledged child has an option to repudiate the acknowledgement upon attaining the age of discretion and understanding. The acknowledgement of paternity is, therefore, not valid where such a child has repudiated the acknowledgement on attaining discretion. Repudiation of the father—child relationship by the child negatives the acknowledgement of paternity. For a valid acknowledgement it is necessary that the acknowledged child has not repudiated it.
Acknowledgement of Paternity is Irrevocable:
A valid acknowledgement of paternity once made cannot be revoked by the acknowledger. A complete and valid acknowledgement is, therefore, irrevocable and any subsequent retraction or denial by the acknowledger cannot affect the legitimacy of the child acknowledged.
Legal effects of Acknowledgement of Paternity:
Legal effects of a valid acknowledgement of paternity may be summarised as under:
(1) The child so acknowledged becomes the legitimate issue of the acknowledger and its paternity is established.
(2) As a legitimate issue, the child is entitled to inherit the properties of the acknowledger, its mother, and other relations.
(3) Acknowledgement of a child’s paternity also establishes a lawful marriage between the child’s mother and the acknowledger. The child’s mother gets the status of the wife of the acknowledger and she too is entitled to inherit the properties of her husband (acknowledger).