The right to filiation

Every child has the right to be taken care of by his/her parents, hence the law governing persons and family that statutes filiation. According to article 46 of the law, filiation is “the relationship between a child and his/her father or mother.”

According to article 47 of the law governing persons and family, filiation is established with the use of a birth record. If a child does not have a birth record but has people who have assumed a parental role without interruption (possession of status), then such a child is said to have filiation. No one is allowed to claim parental relationship if it’s not indicated on the birth record and if they have not uninterruptedly assumed the status of parenthood.

If no one claims filiation and no one assumes a parental role, then all legal procedures must be taken to find the parents of a child.

Article 48 of the law governing persons and family explains the ways in which someone establishing him/herself as a child’s parent (possession of status) is used as proof of filiation. One way is treating a child as someone’s own by way of providing education and maintenance, and seeing to it that the child has personal belongings. Filiation is also established by treating a child as a member of the family, and by community members treating a child as a member of a certain family.

If a child is born out of wedlock (the parents are not married to each other), his/her relationship with the mother is proved in the same way as a child born of married parents. This is according to article 49 of that law.

Paternal filiation (relationship with the father) for a child born out of wedlock requires the father to accept responsibility in speech or in writing before the civil register. Alternatively, there has to be a judgement declaring someone as the father or a copy of a recorded civil register in which someone was declared as the father.

Article 50 of the law governing persons and family provides for proof of filiation of an adopted child. It says, “Adoptive filiation, either paternal or maternal, is proved by an adoption record issued by the civil registrar and approved by the court. In the absence of such a record, it is proved by a declaratory judgment in lieu of civil status records.”

Children whose filiation has been established have equal rights and duties regarding their parents. This is according to article 255 of the law governing persons and family. The children have a duty to respect their parents, and to take care of them if need arises.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com