LEGITIMATION (from ML. legitimare, to make legitimate, from Lat. legit in; us. lawful). The process of rendering legitimate a person who was born a bastard (q.v.). This is effected by the subsequent marriage of the father and mother of the illegitimate offspring. and hence it is often called legitimation per satbsequens matrimonium. This effect. however, can only be produced pro vided at the time of the birth the parents might have been married, or there Ara; no obstacle to their then marrying, if so inclined, as, for ex ample, if they were both unmarried, and there was no impediment. Sometimes it has happened that the father, A. or mother, B. after the child's birth. marries a third person, and has children, and after the dissolution of the marriage A and B marry. In this perplexing case the courts have held that the intervening marriage with a third party does not prevent the bastard child, born before that event, from being legitimated by the subsequent marriage of A and B. But it
has not been settled what are the mutual rights of the children of the two marriages in such cir cumstances, though it appears that the legiti mate-born children cannot be displaced by the legitimated bastard. The doctrine of legitima tion per subsequens matrimonium obtains in Scotland and in the legal systems of the Conti nent which are derived from the civil law, but is not recognized in England or Ireland. havino. been solemnly repudiated by the famous statute of _Merton, and the maxim prevails there. 'once a bastard, always a bastard.' This harsh rule of the common law still prevails in many of the United States. In several States, however, the milder rule of the civil law has been adopted. Legitimation is also reco.fmized in Scotland, but not in England or Ireland. where the parents were not really married, though they both bond fide believed themselves to be married. This it called a putative marriage.