Can we recognize a child whose father we are not?

Verified 05 March 2024 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You can recognize a child without having to prove a biological link between that child and you.

The registrar does not perform a check. However, it must alert the public prosecutor if it detects fraud.


You cannot recognize a child whose paternal filiation is already established.

Thereafter, paternal filiation established by recognition may be challenged before the judge (e.g. by the mother).

Paternity can be challenged by providing evidence that you are not the father (for example, by asking the judge to order a paternity test).

The recognition is then canceled.

The author of the recognition may be ordered to pay damages to the child, to make good the harm he or she has willingly caused.

If you recognize a child who is not yours for defraud the law, the public prosecutor may appeal to the criminal judge this affiliation is established unlawfully.

Your statement may be challenged by the Public Prosecutor in the following cases:

  • Implausible statement (given the age of the person who recognizes the child, for example)
  • Fraudulent declaration (for example, to receive social benefits or obtain French nationality)

The criminal penalties incurred depend on the offense withholding.

For example, recognizing a child solely for the purpose of obtaining a residence permit or French nationality is punishable by five years' imprisonment and €15,000 of fine.

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