Child recognition and legitimation in Cameroon

Child recognition in Cameroon otherwise known as child legitimation is the legal action which grants parental rights to the biological father of a child born out of wedlock. Child recognition in Cameroon is regulated by Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29th June 1981. The status of parents play a significant role in determining whether a child is legitimate or illegitimate in Cameroon. However the process by which an illegitimate child becomes a legitimate child is the regime under which child recognition and legitimation in Cameroon is born. Child recognition in Cameroon becomes very necessary when the property regime of the father in concerned specifically in cases of inheritance.

According to the Black Law Dictionary, a legitimate child is a child born of married parents or a child born out of wedlock who has acquired legitimacy whilst an illegitimate child is one born out of lawful wedlock. Child recognition in Cameroon is the legal bridge through which a child born out of wedlock acquires the status of a legitimate child. This becomes the case where the mother to the child becomes married to the father of the child or where the father fulfils the legal procedure attributed to child recognition in Cameroon.


In a general perspective, child recognition or legitimation in Cameroon eases the difficulty surrounding the inheritance of a child who first had the status of an illegitimate child. However, if the legitimation of the child was not done before the father was deceased, then the child will have to prove that the deceased father was indeed his father before he can lay claim as per the inheritance of the property of the father.


There are two classes of illegitimate children;

  1. Those born from two persons who at the moment when such children were conceived could have lawfully intermarried, and
  2. Those who are born from persons to whose marriage there exist at the time some legal impediment as illustrated in the case of Compton vs Prescott, 12 Rob (L.a) 50.


  1. A valid statutory marriage must exist between the parents of the child.
  2. The father must be the husband to the mother of the child.
  3. The wife must be the mother of the child concerned.

The above elements are mandatory for child recognition in Cameroon. Failure to prove those elements will maintain the status of the child concerned as an illegitimate child.


  1. Original and photocopy of marriage certificate of the parents of the child.
  2. Original and photocopy of birth certificate of the child.
  3. Copy of identity card of the parents of the child.
  4. A copy of the mother’s consent to the child recognition procedure if the father intends recognizing the child born out of wedlock without being married to the mother.

The documents mentioned above shall be filed before a competent court in order to obtain a child recognition decision. The decision will be inscribed as marginal notes on the birth certificate pursuant to section 41 (3) of Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29th of June 1981.

According to section 44 (1) of the Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29th june 1981, the recognition of children born out of wedlock shall be accepted by the civil status registrar if the presumed father gets the consent of the mother to the child when making such declaration.

Scroll to Top