Illegitimate children are discriminated against under the law and in social attitudes. Acts of discrimination include: the denial of inheritance or of filiation; legal impediments to marriage; an unequal distribution of social services on account of inferior status or lack of filiation; discrimination in education. This results in lack of social mobility and may also result in juvenile delinquency and emotional stress.
In most countries children born out of wedlock do not have the same rights as legitimate children, despite the trend in favour of greater equality between them. As a rule, it is only when they have been legitimated that illegitimate children have the same rights and obligations as the children born of the marriage. If, on the other hand, they have merely been recognized by the father, although entitled to be fed and brought up at their father's expense, they cannot claim the same rights as legitimate children, particularly in the matter of inheritance. However, they may, in certain cases, apply to the putative father for a maintenance and education allowance. In Belgium, for example, illegitimate children can exercise this right up to eighteen years of age, in Finland up to seventeen and in Guyana up to sixteen.