Types of Fatherless Children based on Legitimacy of Marriage, legal status and Biological nature of Conception

On Father’s day (June 21, 2009), We had reason to celebrate as we joined CRISP & SIF in their rally on Father’s day.

We were amazed that there is no classification of ‘Fatherless Child’ available so far. Hence, I wrote an excerpt.

The umbrella definition of ‘Fatherless Children’ has to be examined under a variety of situations.


A father is defined as a male parent of an offspring.


Types of Fatherless Children based on Legitimacy of Marriage, legal status and Biological nature of Conception (Dr Savio Pereira classification of Fatherless Children)

1. Born in a Legal Marriage, and conceived by natural conception

a. Fatherless by Death (Accidental or due to disease)

b. Fatherless by Separation/Divorce leading to Custody by mother

2. Conceived in a Pre-marital act of Sexual union (Illegitimate birth) between unmarried individuals

a.  Father refuses to accept fatherhood (Abandonment)

b. Father accepts fatherhood, but refuses to get married.

c. Father gets married after the act of conception

d. Father gets married after the birth of the child

3. Conceived in an Extra-marital act of sexual union between individuals, of which at least one is in an existing Legal Marriage

a. Father refuses to accept fatherhood

b. Father accepts fatherhood, but refuses to get married

4. Conceived in a Sham Second Marriage (Flouting Bigamy Laws)

5. Conceived by artificial Conception techniques which uses Sperm of other individuals


Natural/Biological father – the most common category: child product of man and woman

Birth father – the biological father of a child who, due to adoption or parental separation, does not raise the child or cannot take care of one.

Surprise father – where the men did not know that there was a child until possibly years afterwards

Posthumous father – father died before children were born (or even conceived in the case of artificial insemination)

Teenage father/youthful father – associated with teenage sexual intercourse

Non-parental father – unmarried father whose name does not appear on child’s birth certificate: does not have legal responsibility but continues to have financial responsibility

Sperm donor father – a genetic connection but man does not have legal or financial responsibility if conducted through licensed clinics

Non-biological (social / legal relationship between father and child)

Stepfather – wife has child from previous relationship

Father-in-law – the father of one’s spouse

Adoptive father – a father who has adopted a child

Foster father – child is raised by a man who is not the biological or adoptive father usually as part of a couple.

Cuckolded father – where child is the product of the mother’s adulterous relationship

Social father – where man takes de facto responsibility for a child (in such a situation the child is known as a “child of the family” in English law)

Mother’s partner – assumption that current partner fills father role

Mother’s husband – under some jurisdictions (e.g. in Quebec civil law), if the mother is married to another man, the latter will be defined as the father

DI Dad – social / legal father of children produced via Donor Insemination where a donor’s sperm were used to impregnate the DI Dad’s spouse.

Fatherhood defined by contact level with child

Weekend/holiday father – where child(ren) only stay(s) with father at weekends, holidays, etc.

Absent father – father who cannot or will not spend time with his child(ren)

Second father – a non-parent whose contact and support is robust enough that near parental bond occurs (often used for older male siblings who significantly aid in raising a child).

Stay at home dad – the male equivalent of a housewife with child

Where man in couple originally seeking IVF treatment withdraws consent before fertilisation

Where the apparently male partner in an IVF arrangement turns out to be legally a female (evidenced by birth certificate) at the time of the treatment

A biological child of a man who, for the special reason above, is not their legal father, has no automatic right to financial support or inheritance. Legal fatherlessness refers to a legal status and not to the issue of whether the father is now dead or alive.

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