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Singapore Government

Legal and policy distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children

Legal and policy distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children


Mr Kok Heng Leun
Nominated Member of Parliament

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development: 

(a) which are the areas in law, policy and decision-making by Government agencies and schools, that make a distinction between 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' children; and

(b) what are the differences in outcomes for 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' children and their parents in each of these areas.

Written Answer

Government benefits that support the growth and development of children are given to all Singaporean children, regardless of their legitimacy status. All Singaporean children have access to social assistance, education and healthcare subsidies, as well as infant care and child care subsidies. Children of unwed parents born from 1 September 2016 are also now eligible for Child Development Account (CDA) benefits. This further supports unwed parents’ efforts to care for their child, and enhance the child outcomes.

A child’s right to be maintained by his or her parent is also laid out in the Women’s Charter. Under the Charter, parents are obliged to provide accommodation, clothing, food and education to their children, taking into account their means and regardless of the child’s legitimacy status.

Having said that, an illegitimate child will not acquire citizenship by birth if his mother is not a citizen of Singapore. He will not be eligible for the Baby Bonus cash gift and his mother cannot enjoy tax reliefs which are provided in respect of children born within marriage. In the area of inheritance, an illegitimate child would inherit a part or the whole of his mother’s estate if the mother dies intestate with no surviving legitimate children. Similarly, the mother would inherit a part or the whole of her illegitimate child’s estate if she is living when the child dies intestate. Parents who want to leave something for their illegitimate child should make a Will.

Where benefits or laws differentiate on legitimacy status, they reflect the Government’s desire to promote strong marriages. Parenthood within marriage is the desired and prevailing social norm, which we want to continue to promote as this is key to having strong families.

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