Reference Centre, Dictionnaires

Glossary of Research Terms

Degree of Kin - Civil law

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Under civil law, the degree of kinship is determined by counting the number of generations up from a specific individual to a common ancestor and then down along the other line of descendants to the individual in question. Therefore, first cousins under civil law hold a 4th degree of relationship to each other. Under civil law, 3 degrees of kinship form a bar to certain rights such as marriage as well as a bar to certain other common law inheritances.


diagram showing degrees of kinship under civil law

golden puzzle pieces


Degree of Kin - Ecclesiastical of Canon Law

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Pope Alexander was the first person to determine the degree of kinship under ecclesiastical or canon law. He determined the degree of kinship by counting only the steps from the remoter individual back to the common ancestor. Therefore, first cousins under ecclesiastical law hold a 2nd degree of relationship to one another while under civil law they hold a 4th degree of kinship to one another. Second cousins hold a third degree of relationship under ecclesiastical law but a 6th degree of relationship to one another under civil law.

diagram showing degrees of kinship under ecclesiastical or canon law

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