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A child born to a married couple is known legally as a “legitimate” child. When born to unmarried parents, he or she is an illegitimate child.  In North Carolina, an unmarried man who is proven to be a child’s father may file a lawsuit called legitimation proceeding. In that lawsuit, he asks the court to recognize his child as having all of the same rights and protections as a child born of a marriage (i.e., a legitimate child). There are several ways people may legitimate their child, including getting married.  When a court enters an order legitimating a child, the child’s father will be placed on the birth certificate if it has not already been included there.

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