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Re: Dukes of Hernani
A future husband could adopt her son, but not acknowledge him, as you suggest. That would mean that he is his biological father.
About other what-if’s , no idea. That is uncharted territory. I suppose all would end in a legal battle. Who knows.
Could the third Duke or the fourth Duchess with no legal heirs available choose Maria's son Carlos as their heir? Could young Carlos be made legitimate if Maria married and her spouse acknowledged her son? Would it depend on if she married a man or a woman (not that i have any clue on what Maria's sexual preference is but im interested in the legal aspect of the situation)?
She cannot designate an heir because she has descendants.
Only the first holder with no descendants can designate an heir. That was the case with the first Duke of Hernani.
And she could only cede the title to her legal heir.
Is it still possible for Infanta Margarita to either designate an heir to cede the title to who she wants to succeed?
Legally, illegitimate children have no rights, as the Supreme Court has sentenced. When the law was changed to establish cognatic succession, the requirement of legitimacy was not changed. https://cronicaglobal.elespanol.com/vida/los-hijos-bastardos-no-tienen-derecho-a-titulo-nobiliario_35418_102.html
But, as there are no legitimate descendants to inherit the title after Maria Zurita, I do not know what will happen if her son petitions to inherit it and the closest legitimate heir challenges that succession.
This title has been subject of an unorthodox succession when the last duke Manfredo could leave the title not to his close relatives, but his distant cousin, Infanta Margarita Duchess of Soria.
The Infanta has two children: Alfonso, unmarried and w/o issue and Maria Zurita, who has a son born by FIV.
At Margarita's death, Alfonso (should he survive his mother) will inherit the Hernani title - the Soria having been created for life for Margarita.
If Alfonso won't marry and have legitimate issue, the H. title will pass to his sister.
Is her son considered legitimate for title succession purposes, being the child of a single mother, w/o knowing who his father was ?
This is a new reality who will probably spread in the future.
Has there been any other case among spanish aristocracy ?