Shacking up and illegitimacy
by Oscar Ramjeet
Virgin Islands is one of the few territories in the Commonwealth that does not
recognize illegitimate children in that children born out of wedlock cannot
succeed in their fathers' estate if they die intestate.
this law several BVI children who were born in common law unions were sidelined.
I recall a case in which a legitimate child who succeeded in his father's estate
did not even know his dad who had married to his mother many, many years ago in
another Caribbean island but were separated a year after he was born. He was
living in the United States and went to Tortola for his father's funeral and
shortly after he heard that his father had died intestate and because of the law
in the BVI he was the sole beneficiary of his father's estate while the
illegitimate children who grew up with their father were not entitled to a dime.
In my humble
view, the BVI government should make provisions for children born out of
and the Caribbean islands illegitimate children rank equal to those born in
wedlock and persons who live together as man and wife are recognized as spouses
if they live together for certain number of years. Barbados took the lead in
the first Caribbean country which removed the word "bastard" from its laws and
maybe from its vocabulary.
A few months
ago I wrote that the world seems to be changing and I stated that in the past
older folks would not tolerate young people living together as man and wife and
now the older folks are "shacking up" for varying reasons, the main one being
financial loss, a worry that trumps any desire for the religious or social
blessings. Remarriage may mean giving up a former spouse's pension, Social
Security and medical insurance.
rate in the United States was increasing every year and last year it was over
50%, but the latest reports states that the divorce rate is falling. A new study
offers an explanation that more people are living together instead of getting
Associated Press report states that the number of unmarried, opposite-sex
couples living together has climbed from 439,000 in 1960 to more than 5 million
also states that the marriage rate has fallen over the past three decades:
Seventy-seven out of every 1,000 single women got married in 1976; last year,
the number was fewer than 40 per 1,000. The Researchers are glad that the
divorce rate is on the decline, but they worry about the children of couples who
live together without marrying.
David Popenoe made a disclosure which is very worrying. He said that "the
breakup rate of cohabiting couples is considerably higher than that of married
couples" and added " as more and more cohabiting couples have children, that
becomes more of a problem"
Co-directors of the National Marriage Project a nonpartisan institute at Rutgers
University that promotes marriage, said couples who get married are more
committed to each other than those who just live together.
shocking to see how many senior citizens are living adulterous lives. A census
counted more than 300,000 couples in the 65 plus group are in common law unions
which some of them once criticized and prevented their children from doing.
In the USA,
the laws differ from state to state as regards succession for illegitimate
children. Nearly all the states recognize children born out of wedlock,
providing there is proof that the father has admitted paternity.
© 2005 by SUN ENTERPRISES (B.V.I.) LTD.
PUBLISHERS OF THE ISLAND
SUN Newspaper. All rights reserved.