What is the status of children of an invalid and an adulterous marriage?

My mother was Catholic but married a non-Catholic who had been divorced twice and had 3 children by his first 2 wives. My mother endured his abuse until he hit my infant brother so hard on the butt and left a bruise and she divorced him later that year. We were then free to attend church in her faith. We were baptized and I’ve wondered what our baptismal records might reflect since I’m not sure Mom told our parish priest he had other wives with children. According to church doctrine his first marriage would be considered the valid marriage and all others were invalid or adulterous according to some posts. Does that mean the church views her children as illegitimate as well. Thank you!

The baptismal records indicate who the father and mother are, that’s about it. If maternity or paternity are unknown or unacknowledged, then that field would be left blank. In the situation of an invalid marriage, both parents would have publicly acknowledged themselves as parents and therefore both would be recorded in the baptismal register. The name of the mother or father would only be changed in the case of official adoption.

This whole notion of “legitimate” in modern times is really quite meaningless. At one time in history the term referred to inheritance rights and the limited ability society had to determine paternity. Today, we recognize the rights of all children of a parent and paternity is easily determined through DNA testing.

Outside of monarchies and certain international laws regarding citizenship, the terms legitimate and illegitimate aren’t really used anymore.

When it comes to Church law, I am unaware of any situation where legitimate or illegitimate status would ever come into play. Its simply not a consideration in modern times. Whatever the situation of the parents is, today it has no bearing on the status of the innocent child.

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