7 FAM 1100 Appendix E

birth in wedlock, of wedlock, void and voidable marriages

(CT:CON-576;   05-05-2015)
(Office of Origin:  CA/OCS/L)

7 FAM 1110 appendix e  introduction

(CT:CON-521;   07-08-2014)

This Appendix focuses on what birth in wedlock means as that term relates to acquisition of derivative U.S. citizenship through birth abroad.


(1) For the purposes of acquisition of U.S. citizenship, filiation is the blood relationship or kinship which exists between a child and the child’s biological parents;

(2) A putative parent is an alleged parent; and

(3) Issue of a marriage or child of the marriage or similar words indicate that the husband is the father of the child as a matter of law.

7 FAM 1120 Appendix E  Authorities

(CT:CON-454;   04-15-2013)

a. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA):

(1)  INA 101 (a) Definitions (8 U.S.C. 1101) provides:

(a)  INA 101(a)(35) “The term “spouse”, “wife”, or “husband” does not include a spouse, wife, or husband by reason of any marriage ceremony where the contracting parties thereto are not physically present in the presence of each other, unless the marriage shall have been consummated.”

(b)  INA 101(a)(39) “The term “unmarried”, when used in reference to any individual as of any time, means an individual who at such time is not married, whether or not previously married.”

(2)  INA 101(c) Definitions as Used in title III INA provides:

(a)  INA 101(c)(1)  “The term "child" means an unmarried person under twenty-one years of age and includes a child legitimated under the law of the child's residence or domicile, or under the law of the father's residence or domicile, whether in the United States or elsewhere, and, except as otherwise provided in sections 320, and 321 of title III, a child adopted in the United States, if such legitimation or adoption takes place before the child reaches the age of 16 years (except to the extent that the child is described in subparagraph (E)(ii) or (F)(ii) of subsection (b)(1)), and the child is in the legal custody of the legitimating or adopting parent or parents at the time of such legitimation or adoption.”

(b)  INA 101(c)(2) “The terms “parent”, “father”, and “mother” include in the case of a posthumous child a deceased parent, father, and mother.

(3)  INA 301(8 U.S.C. 1401) (c), (d), (e), and (g) refer to birth of a person outside of the United States “of parents …”  INA 301 does not mention marriage expressly but implicitly references marriage with respect to INA 301(c), (d), (e), and (g) and also INA 308(2) when viewed in context of the provisions of INA 309.

(4)  INA 309 (8 U.S.C. 1409) refers to children born out of wedlock.

b. U.S. Domestic Law Regarding Marriage and Parentage:  The Uniform Parentage Act of 2000 (UPA), last revised in 2002, includes provisions in Section 204 regarding the presumption of paternity.  Uniform laws are model acts which U.S. states may enact in part or in their entirety.  All states have not adopted the UPA so individual state laws may still vary.  Section 204 of the UPA provides:


“(a) A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

(1) he and the mother of the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage;

(2) he and the mother of the child were married to each other and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a decree of separation;

(3) before the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a decree of separation;

(4) after the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, whether or not the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:

(a) the assertion is in a record filed with state agency maintaining birth records;

(b) he agreed to be and is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate; or

(c) he promised in a record to support the child as his own; or

(5) for the first two years of the child’s life, he resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as his own.

(b) A presumption of paternity established under this section may be rebutted only by an adjudication under Article 6.”


(CT:CON-521;   07-08-2014)

a. All presumptions of paternity are rebuttable in appropriate circumstances.  (Uniform Parentage Act (1973), Prefatory Note, 9B U.L.A. 379 (2001).)

b. Many states have enacted paternity statutes establishing a rebuttable presumption of paternity where genetic test results report a paternity equal to or greater than a designated percentage.  (See 7 FAM 1100 Appendix A for guidance about DNA testing.)

c.  When the mother is living with her husband at the time of the child’s conception, and the husband is not impotent or sterile, there is a conclusive presumption under the laws of some states that the husband is the father of the child.  However, DNA tests along with other credible evidence can possibly result in a finding of non-paternity.

d. If there are indications that call into question the filiations, despite the existence of a marriage, the consular officer must consult the Fraud Prevention Manager and CA/FPP.  See 7 FAM 1131.4 Blood Relationship Essential.  If doubt arises that the citizen putative "parent" is related by blood to the child, the consular officer is expected to investigate carefully.  Circumstances that might give rise to such a doubt include:

(1)  Conception or birth of a child when either of the alleged biological parents was married to another;

(2)  Naming on the birth certificate, as father and/or mother, person(s) other than the alleged biological parents; and

(3)  Evidence or indications that the child was conceived at a time when the alleged father had no physical access to the mother.

e. If the child was conceived or born when the mother was married to someone other than the man claiming paternity, a statement from the man to whom the mother was married disavowing paternity, a divorce or custody decree mentioning certain of her children but omitting or specifically excluding the child in question, or credible statements from neighbors or friends having knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the birth may be required as evidence bearing on actual natural paternity.  If the Department (CA) is not satisfied by a preponderance of the evidence that filiation exists, the putative parent(s) may submit DNA evidence following procedures in 7 FAM 1100 Appendix A and the CA Internet page on DNA and Parentage Testing.  See 7 FAM 1160 Appendix E for further guidance on adjudication.


CA/FPP’s CAWeb Intranet Relationship Fraud feature.

CA/FPP’s Intranet Fraud Digest includes other information about relationship fraud.  For example:  Relationship Fraud in Yemen; Marriage Fraud Dangerous and Pervasive.

7 FAM 1140 Appendix E  “In Wedlock” and “Of WedlocK”

(CT:CON-521;   07-08-2014)

a. The term “Birth in Wedlock” has been consistently interpreted to mean birth during the marriage of the biological parents to each other.

b. This includes a child conceived before the marriage but born during the marriage.

c.  To say a child was born "in wedlock" means that the child’s biological parents were married to each other at the time of the birth of the child.

d. In the case of a marriage terminated by dissolution, death, or annulment, the term “of wedlock” still includes a biological child conceived during the marriage and born within 300 days after termination of the marriage.

e. If a married woman and someone other than her spouse have a biological child together, that child is considered to have been born out of wedlock.  The same is true for a child born to a married man and a person other than his spouse.

7 FAM 1150 Appendix E  Void and Voidable Marriages

(CT:CON-576;   05-05-2015)

a. A marriage that does not conform to the laws of the country or state in which it was performed generally is voidable and may be declared void by an appropriate authority, usually a court in the jurisdiction where the marriage occurred.

b. Prior to such a declaration, the marriage usually is considered valid for all purposes.  Even after a marriage is voided, the children's status usually is not affected.  In the United States, for example, every state considers children of a void marriage to be legitimate.

c.  Some marriages are considered void ab initio (from the beginning), as opposed to voidable.  7 FAM 1160 Appendix E provides further guidance about adjudication.  Questions from posts abroad about this subject must be referred to Ask-OCS-L@state.gov.

d. Except where Federal statute provides to the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court held that marriages (not polygamous or incestuous, or otherwise declared void by statute) if valid by the law of the state where entered into, will be recognized as valid in every other jurisdiction (Meister v. Moore, 96 U.S. 76 (1878); Travers v. Reinhardt, 205 U.S. 423, 440 (1907).

e. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad must have available a copy of the consular district's local laws on marriage and legitimation:

(1)  If for any reason a marriage does not appear to have been valid, legitimation is a determining factor in the citizenship claim and a U.S. domicile cannot be identified, the consular officer will consult local law in an attempt to determine if children born of a void marriage are considered legitimate (see the Foreign Legitimation Law Chart on the CAWeb);

(2)  If the child is not considered legitimate, the consular officer must determine that the marriage was declared void by an appropriate authority before denying the child’s claim;

(3)  A post considering a case involving legitimation in a third country must seek information on the laws of that country from the embassy of that country or from the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country; and

(4)  If any of the above inquiry are inconclusive or questionable, posts abroad must consult CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov) as soon as possible.  7 FAM 1160 Appendix E provides further guidance about adjudication.  Domestic passport agencies and centers see 7 FAM 1170 Appendix E.

f.  A law that declares legitimate a child born during a void marriage presumes that the marriage ceremony took place before the child's birth unless the law specifically mentions children born before the marriage.  Cases that involve void marriages occurring after a child's birth must be referred by posts abroad to CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov).

7 FAM 1160 Appendix E  ADJUDICATION

(CT:CON-521;   07-08-2014)

a. In most acquisition of U.S. citizenship by birth abroad cases, adjudication of whether a citizenship claim comes within the scope of INA 301 (8 U.S.C. 1401) or rather INA 309 (8 U.S.C. 1409) will be clear.  The parents will present a marriage certificate certified by the civil registry authority responsible for maintaining marriage certificates as proof of marriage, and adjudication will proceed in a straightforward way.

b. On rare occasions, you may be confronted with an acquisition of citizenship adjudication in which a child is born during the course of a marriage but one or both the spouses advise that the biological father is another person not married to the biological mother.  The following documents must be submitted:

(1)  The child’s birth certificate certified by the civil registry authority responsible for maintaining birth certificates;

(2)  Form DS-5507 notarized Affidavit of Parentage, Physical Presence and Support executed by the mother and the person she claims is the father;

(3)  An notarized affidavit executed by the husband denying paternity;

(4)  Evidence of access by the putative father at probable time of conception including, for example, entry/exit stamps in passports, airline/hotel receipts, travel orders, etc.;

(5)  Evidence of lack of access by the husband at probable time of conception.  For example, evidence that the husband was not in the country such as overseas military assignment, imprisonment, etc.; and

(6)  In addition, the family may submit DNA tests in accordance with procedures set forth in 7 FAM 1100 Appendix A.

c.  For posthumous children, see 7 FAM 1180.

d. If there is indication of fraud, consular officers must consult post’s Fraud Prevention Manager and CA/FPP.  Domestic passport agencies and centers must consult their Fraud Prevention Managers in accordance with 7 FAM 1170 Appendix E.

e. If a spouse contacts a post denying paternity after a passport or Consular Report of Birth of a U.S. Citizen Abroad has been issued, obtain a sworn statement from the individual and contact CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov) for guidance.

f.  If the foreign birth certificate lists the husband, post must include in analysis of the case whether it is possible to obtain an amended birth certificate.  This is not feasible in all cultures.  For example, in some cultures a woman could be killed for such an admission.

g. Questions about void and voidable marriages, polygamy and common law marriage are extremely rare but usually complex.  They may be brought to the attention of CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov).

7 FAM 1170 appendix E  Passport Agencies and Centers adjudication and questions

(CT:CON-576;   05-05-2015)

The issues addressed in this Appendix arise primarily in the overseas adjudication context.  Should such a question come to light in an application under consideration by a passport agency or center, follow the adjudication guidance provided in 7 FAM 1160 Appendix E, but consult Passport Services’ Office of Adjudication, Policy Division (CA/PPT/S/A/AP) at AskPPTAdjudication@state.gov and your Fraud Program Manager for guidance.

7 FAM 1180 APPENDIX E  and 1190 Appendix E Unassigned