Prior to the passage of the Status of Children Act (“the Act”) by the Parliament of Grenada in 1991 , children born out of wedlock suffered the disability of being unable to inherit property when a father died intestate.
The Act was specifically intended to “remove the legal disabilities” of children born out of wedlock.
What the Act did was to create a gateway for those children to achieve equal status with children born in wedlock.
This is one of the most responsive pieces of legislation. It recognises the cultural reality in Grenada, and the wider English-speaking Caribbean where similar legislation has been passed, that by and large, a significant percentage of the population is born out of wedlock.
There are certain scenarios defined in the Act which create an automatic presumption of paternity, for instance, entry of the name of the father on the child’s birth certificate.
Where an automatic presumption does not arise, the High Court of Grenada has to be persuaded by evidence concerning the relationship of the parents and the man’s relationship with the child. Once persuaded, the declaration will be made.
Applications for declarations of paternity can be made during a man’s lifetime, or after, but where it is being made after, the standard of proof is much higher.
The Act therefore has significant implications for inheritance of property where a man dies intestate in Grenada, or a man is domiciled in Grenada at the date of his death, and has children out of wedlock.
Of course, there is a proviso, that is, a protection for estates already distributed before the Act and or before the declarations of paternity are obtained, but the Act still represents considerable inroads into the law of succession for children born out of wedlock.