Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Consanguinity Definition:

Common blood, descendants of a same common ancestor.

Related Terms: Next of Kin, Lineal Descendant, Collateral Descendant, Issue, Descendant

The following summary of law appeared in the American Registry (now the University of Pennsylvania Law Review):

"Consanguinity or kindred is the connection or relation of persons descending from the same stock or common ancestor.

"Lineal consanguinity is the connection which subsists between persons of whom one is descended in a direct line from the other.

"Collateral kindred agrees with lineal in this, that they descend from the same stock or ancestor; but differing in this, that they do not descend one from the other."

Consanguinity is established by degrees and is often relevant when an estate is to be distributed intestate (where there is no will).

In Okanagan Indian Band v. Bonneau, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia wrote:

"Where an intestate dies leaving no survivor, issue, father, mother, brother or sister, and no children of any deceased brother or sister, his estate shall go to his next-of-kin. Where an estate goes to the next-of-kin, it shall be distributed equally among the next-of-kin of equal degree of consanguinity to the intestate....

"(D)egrees of kindred shall be computed by counting upward from the intestate to the nearest common ancestor and then downward to the relative, and the kindred of the half-blood shall inherit equally with those of the whole-blood in the same degree."

Certain degrees of consanguinity also define incest and prohibited marriage. Consider this extract from the 1968 California Penal Code at §285:

"Persons being within the degrees of consanguinity within which marriages are declared by law to be incestuous and void, who intermarry with each other, or who commit fornication or adultery with each other, are punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not less than one year nor more than fifty years."

The following definition from the 1914 edition of John Bouvier's law dictionary is also helpful:

"Consanguinity (is) the relation subsisting among all the different persons descending from the same stock or common ancestor.

"Having the blood of some common ancestor.

"Collateral consanguinty is the relation subsisting among persons who descend from the same common ancestor, but not from each other. It is essential, to constitute this relation, that they spring from the same common root or stock, but in different branches.

"Lineal consanguinity is that relation which exists among persons where one is descended from the other, as between -the son and the father, or the grandfather, and so upward in a direct ascending line; and between the father and the son, or the grandson, and so downwards in a direct descending line."


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