Kinship Instructions

I found several kinship charts on the 'Net, but no instructions on how to learn it for yourself, so here it is.

Determining your kinship to someone else in your tree can be simple if you remember a few important rules. 

  • For cousins, you must first find the closest common ancestor.
  • You must count the generations.
  • Relationships are decided by blood, not by marriage.
Cousins
First find the closest common ancestor and count the generations (a) between that ancestor and yourself. Then count the generations (b) between that ancestor and the other person in your tree. If the two numbers (a) and (b) are the same, you are (a) cousins. The spouse of the person you are researching is not your cousin. 
Example: My great grandfather and I have 2 (a) generations between us. There are also 2 (b) generations between my great grandfather and the person I am researching. We are 2nd cousins.
 
Great Grandpa Great Grandpa
Grandpa (1 generation) his child (1 generation)
Dad  (2 generations) his grandchild (2 generations)
myself 2nd cousin
If (a) and (b) are not the same: Take the lower of the two numbers as the degree and the difference between the two numbers as the removal. 
Example: My great grandfather and I have 2 (a) generations between us. There are 4 (b) generations between my great grandfather and the person I am researching. We are 2nd (a) cousins, twice (b-a) removed.
 
Great Grandpa Great Grandpa
Grandpa (1 generation) his child (1 generation)
Dad (2 generations) his grandchild (2 generations)
myself his great grandchild (3 generations)
his 2nd great grandchild (4 generations)
2nd cousin 2 times removed
Uncles and Aunts
The siblings of your direct ancestors are your uncles and aunts. Their spouses are just that, spouses of your uncles and aunts. When we call them uncle or aunt we are being socially polite, but genealogically incorrect. As we go into further generations we give them numbers. My great great great grandfather is my 3rd great grandfather. His brothers are my 3rd great granduncles. 
Dad's brothers and sisters are my uncles and aunts. Grandpa's brothers and sisters are my granduncles and grandaunts. Great Grandpa's brothers and sisters are my great granduncles and great grandaunts.
Nieces and Nephews
The children of your siblings, and their descendants, are your nieces and nephews. My brother's children are nieces and nephews. The children of my nieces and nephews are my grandnieces and grandnephews. Then you go into numbers just like you did for uncles and aunts - 1st great grandnephew, 2nd great grandnephew, etc.

Steps
A step-parent is the current spouse of your parent (include grands and greats in that). Previous spouses of your parent are no longer related to you. (Except for your other parent.) A step-brother is the biological child of your step-parent. All blood relatives of your step-parent are step-relatives to you for the duration of the marriage. 

Examples. My mother married a second husband. He became my step-father. His children became my step-brother and step-sister. His siblings are my step-uncle and step-aunt. His mother is my step-grandmother. My step-father died. I am no longer related to his family.
Half-siblings
A half-brother has one parent in common with you. The other parent is not related to you unless currently married to your parent. 
Examples. My father and his first wife have a daughter. She is my half-sister, but her mother is not related to me. My father and his third wife have a son. He is my half-brother, she is my step-mother (because she is still married to my father).
Adoptions
Any legal adoption is binding and new kinships have to be determined from a legal point of view. Genealogically, there is no relationship. The adoption can be shown and the kinship can be shown as adopted brother, adopted parent, adopted uncle, etc.

 

 
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