Need a "Not Married" option
edited March 5, 2021 in Suggest an Idea
Irene Ostler Nielson said: Can an option be created under "Marriage" stating the words "Not married"? Many times a child is born out of wedlock and when entering his/her father and mother who never married, it would be nice to have the option to state they never married. This is an important fact, but a red exclamation mark shows whenever I enter this fact.
Juli said: Unfortunately, "not married" is neither a place nor a date, so you can't get it to show between a non-couple without the "not standardized" error.
One solution is to enter the parents separately, not as a couple. Use "add parent" to enter just one parent. This should leave the other parent in the "couple" as an "add spouse" button. Don't use that one. Instead, use "add parent" again to enter the other parent. The child should now be listed in the Family Members section with two "sets" of parents: one father-and-add-spouse, and one add-spouse-and-mother.
I don't remember exactly how to achieve the same thing if the parents are already entered and showing as a couple, but I do believe it is possible.0
Irene Ostler Nielson said: Thank you for your quick response. Entering the parents separately certainly will work. It would be nice, though, to have the option under "Marriage" that stated, "Not Married." Maybe one day that will be a choice. Thanks again!!0
David Robertson said: I can not agree more. That would make that situation so much more clear. I have an ancestor that had 5 children out of wedlock presumably by 5 different men. I have proved 2 of the "baby daddies."0
David Robertson said: What if you have some proof of a lack of marriage such as a bastardy suit?0
Jeff Wiseman said: That's an interesting situation because in order to have the suit, there has to be some kind of "relationship" between the parents first (in the same way that in order to have a child, there would have to have been a relationship of some type between the parents). If you show the parents having a couple relationship in the Family Members area, then that suit would be just another event on that relationship, like the "One-Night-Stand" event, neither of which exist right now.
So my suggestion (based some on what I've heard here from some FS employees) is that if you have any evidence that the couple relationship was not a long term commitment for the couple, then you could either record the parents as not having a couple type relationship, or record them with a couple type relationship with no events (since there are none appropriate available) and then add your evidence either as a source or a note.0
Juli said: There are actually scenarios where you can prove that two people were not married. The one that comes immediately to mind is where one or both of them were married to other people. Most of the "western" world does not allow bigamy.0
Vivien Penelope Brown said: I must confess that I haven't taken the time to read all this discussion in detail so this idea may already have been covered...but there also need to be a way to show that a person never married i.e. remained single their entire life.0
Tom Huber said: The issue of "never married" (an option for a single person) and "not married" as a state (fact) between a couple have been requested a number of times.
The problem, as Jeff states, is proving the not/never state. Even if an obituary states that the person "remained single their entire life," that does not mean that they did not marry and immediately annul the action, or that such a marriage took place but was never recorded.
It isn't the one night stand issue that is at stake, but whether or not a couple lived together in which both contributed toward the household and that such a cohabitation produced children.
If a couple had children, and the children took on the father's surname, then I don't think anyone will argue against the parents being listed together with no marriage information. While it may be true that no marriage record is found, the fact that the couple lived together and had children is sufficient to believe that they were married.
If a couple had children, and the children took on the mother's maiden name, then the argument against listing the couple as the parents of the children has some merit. However, in those instances, the Father can be listed at a guardian to the children with a note that it was believed that the couple was never legally married.
There are a number of options with the existing (and insufficient couple relationship area) family choices. Most of which can satisfy this situation. Notes certain should be entered to explain what a researcher has found or not found and what records have been searched.
As to an option for Never Married (for either the couple or an individual), there has been plenty of discussion, but the major objection toward having a checkbox is that the record of a marriage may be out there, but not found at the time a checkbox (if it exists) is checked. Thus, the option has not been provided within the massive tree.0
Jeff Wiseman said: There are already ways to show that. However, depending on whether you are talking about a person that was never married and had children, or a person that was never married but didn't have children, it would look a little different.
For someone who was just never married and never had children (I assume that this is your question), the fact that that person has no companion linked to them in a couple type relationship should be the first obvious evidence in the record.
The second would be a simple note titled something like "Marriages" in the collaboration area for that person explaining why you think the person was never married along with any evidence supporting that assumption. If you have any sources supporting this, then you could also attach them to the person record and simply refer to them in the Note you create.
This above is only about annotating a single person's record. The circumstances where a person never married but actually had children is more complicated since it involves documenting the RELATIONSHIP between that person and someone else. That relationship is SHARED between 2 people regardless of whether or not they were married. This is akin to the situation the original poster was asking about.0
Adrian Bruce said: "One solution is to enter the parents separately, not as a couple."
You don't have to do this because, for one thing, totally separate parents might not have had any sort of relationship - not even a one night stand.
My method (well, not mine, I got told this!) of showing unmarried parents that weren't together in any sort of an ongoing relationship is illustrated below:
Martha and William didn't have that "ongoing" relationship (she was the servant, he was the boss' son, though from later events I'd not be too sure who made the running!). The target is to end up with that "Add Couple Relationship" because that will mean that there isn't a Relationship in the system. But note that Emily has one box to contain both her parents because William and Martha were indeed her parents. It's not William and an unknown or maybe, perhaps, an unknown and Martha - which is what I'd interpret having her parents spread over two boxes to mean.
Compare that with another of my Haslington ancestors where William Cooper and Hannah Newton have a line saying "No Marriage Events". This means that they do have a Relationship in the Tree (because they had an ongoing relationship in real life) - it's just that I haven't got round to putting any events in for them yet.
If you want to get from "No Marriage Events" (i.e. a Relationship with no events yet) to "Add Couple Relationship" (i.e. no relationship) then you have to click the pencil to see the flyout thus:
Normally you'd be clicking this to add a marriage event but you can also click this to remove the relationship altogether using the "Delete Relationship" button. When you click that you will be asked all the usual questions and you are told that the couple remain the parents of any children.
Note that when you create parents for a child, the default is that you end up with the "No Marriage Events" line because the system defaults to assuming that an ongoing relationship exists. You have to Delete that Relationship if there was no ongoing real-life relationship, after which you will see the "Add Couple Relationship" that tells you there is no relationship in the system, just as there was no relationship in real life.
Arguably this defaulting to assuming that an ongoing relationship exists obscures how to create parents without an ongoing relationship. Perhaps as a result, it's not that easy to remember how to do this - I always have to revert to looking at William and Martha to remind myself how to do this.
Thanks to all the others who explained this to me.0
Jeff Wiseman said: Exactly.
Only one nitpick about terminology though.
If a couple had children, and the children took on the mother's maiden name, then the argument against listing the couple as the parents of the children has some merit. However, in those instances, the Father can be listed at a guardian to the children with a note that it was believed that the couple was never legally married.There will ALWAYS be a biological father and a biological mother when there is a child. There will always be some kind of relationship between those parents, but it might only be very brief, with no commitment . It doesn't mean there was ever a Family type (i.e., couple) relationship between them. If a biological father just took off after a child was born, I don't think I would ever document his relationship to the child as "Guardian". He was just the biological father and nothing more. That's fairly easy to show in the records by just not having a couple relationship between those parents (as I showed in the example above)
Guardian implies responsibility to me. If a child's parents died and he went to live with his uncle's family, his uncle could be his guardian. If a person was living in a Foster home, they would have a legal guardian.
If an unmarried couple were living together with children they had together, they have a spousal relationship with each other. That implies a guardianship of course, but the real relationship between them and their children is just biological.
Anyway, that's kind of how I see it.0
Tom Huber said: I agree with that if the Father did not take an active part in supporting the family. The situation that I mentioned (and you quoted) had to do with "a couple lived together in which both contributed toward the household and that such a cohabitation produced children." I wasn't particularly clear when I wrote that. My apologies.0
Irene Ostler Nielson said: The particular family I am working with was from Sweden and the parish birth record of the child states the mother was unmarried, but gave the name of the father and where he was living at the time. I followed the mother through all of the household records and she never married the father of her illegitimate child but later married another man. In this instance I believe I could enter it as a fact because there is documentation showing it, but certainly it is not the same for everyone.0
iLoveMyLife02 said: Or, the engineers could add a Relationship Type as "Dating". Gosh, I hate to think of children conceived via ****, but there could be a Relationship Type as "None -- Mother was Forcibly ****". :-(0
iLoveMyLife02 said: I don't even want to think how we will document the multiple children born of 1970s sperm donors. One man has to use a spreadsheet to keep track of his over 100 "children".0
iLoveMyLife02 said: Could we have a "No Known Marriage" Event? I know that my sister's husband had a baby with a woman in Alabama, but it has been said over and over that they never married. It would be a good clue to the family detectives of the future if we simply said that they dated in about 1985 but were not known to have been married. Would save some searching at the courthouse (or online).0
David Robertson said: I have listened with some bemusement to some of the replies about the "not married" option. Some point out that it is difficult to prove a negative. While that is true, in genealogy it is often difficult to prove the positive. If that is the standard, then we should delete all marriages that can't be proven. If our research leads us to the conclusion that the couple never married and the child was a "****" why not be able to easily say so rather than be forced into the labels husband and wife. Being forced to used only those labels is misleading. We often conclude couples are married, without proof. Better yet, why not use Baby Daddy for the husband; and Baby Mama for the wife? Then we don't even have to decide if they were married. Is the reluctance to point out that the couple was not married, the enforcement of a moral code on our ancestors which were not all paragons of virtue? I am far more interested in knowing the truth than leaving the false impression of a moral life for an immoral person.0
Jeff Wiseman said: Right now there are only two Relationship Types that are supported on the website. Parent-Child relationships and Couple relationships. You can provide sources, notes, and events for each of them. The Couple Relationship is mistakenly labeled as a "marriage" in some places on the website which adds to confusion because NOT ALL couple relationships are marriages!.
A marriage is a Couple type relationship that contains instances of marriage related events such as a marriage license, a marriage, marriage banns, a Divorce, an annulment, etc.
Common-law can also be a Couple type relationship. In places where it is an officially government recognized status, there is usually a point in time (i.e., an event) where it becomes "official".
Dating would be a Couple type relationship, but it is usually transitory. It has no long term commitment-just like the one night stand thing. They also are not official government recognized events. In these cases, the couple type relationship is so insignificant relative to family tracking and many government systems that they frequently are documented as both being biological parents of a common child, but they are not shown as having a formal relationship link between them on the pedigree and Family members charts of the website.
Also, I personally feel that we don't need to capture every gory detail of a troubled relationship or personal problem that some of our ancestors may have had, but a brief and tasteful description of some events in the person's life can help clarify other issues and eliminate confusion with other persons with similar names and locations.0
Jeff Wiseman said: An event is defined as a place and a time. "No known Marriage" is not an event, it is usually a statement of ASSUMED fact. "They were not known to be married" does not automatically translate to "They were not married" (although it could provide evidence for such). Look at my first entry in the topic above where I discuss some of this and provide and example.
You brother in law and the women in Alabama can both be shown as the child's biological parents through each of their Parent-child relationships to the child, but they don't have to be shown as having a formal couple relationship with the other non-spouse by using a link between the records. They are both parents but not spouses.0
Jeff Wiseman said: I think the original question that was posted and the following discourse is not trying to deal with the morals involved here at all. It's about genealogical documentation techniques and potential improvements to the tool. It's all about how to effectively record the circumstances of these various families and NOT leave false impressions.
For example, as a result of the legalization of **** marriages, FS is modifying the FT database so that these types of couple relationships in families can be handled. Why are they doing this? Because these types of couple relationships in Families are now being recorded on official government records and we need to be able to effectively capture those same types of families in the FSFT. Right now all couple relationships in the database are designed to support only one man and one woman.
The trick is to be able to simply document it all in the FamilyTree in an effective and accurate way. Everyone will continue judge for themselves whether something was immoral or not (just as we do now in day to day life).
So if you have a husband and wife that are both biological parents of a child, but they are not linked with a couple type relationship, it should become obvious that whatever relationship they had was without a long term commitment of some sort.0
Cary Holmquist said: In my research of families in Sweden, the public records (created and kept by the state Swedish Lutheran Church, generally available from the late 1600s onwards) clearly provide instances of common “not married” relationships, for lack of a better term, in recording a child whose parents were, in fact, not married. This happened sometimes among the peasant classes, where the birth/christening record for a child of unwed parents was titled “oäkta” which may be politely translated as illegitimate. In these peasant classes, many young people worked for a landed-class farmer or manor owner in many capacities and it seems that this fostered, shall we say, romantic and intimate but temporary relationships. But for whatever reasons, many of these relationships did not result in marriage, although they produced children. Also these were not necessarily one-night stands, as we might call them, but then again, they also were often not long-term or householding/homebuilding family relationships.
The mother, of course was known at the time of her child’s birth, but if she was unmarried, then the child was oäkta and the mother may have provided the father’s name or not for the records or to the clerical officials.
In any case, the custom of patronymics, rather than surnames, for centuries was followed and the child was given a father’s first name or whatever male name the mother proffered: for example, Jönsson for a boy or Jönsdotter for a girl. Rarely a child might be provided with a matronymic, using the mother’s given name as the root.
The records of the Swedish Lutheran Church books were very meticulous about these distinctions, and without going into other deep cultural details, this was the practice for a few centuries, until the general and legal compulsion of actual surnames was gradually enforced.
And so the point for this discussion is that there is at least one culturally legal and lawful practice of de facto not married being recorded for a child’s parents as practiced widely and long in Sweden. The probably stigmatizing title oäkta followed the child in all records until the mother with whom the child was living might eventually be married or the child reached some level of majority, when the title recorded would change to advise the child’s occupation. And though the child carried a patronymic as well, the title oäkta would perpetuate the legal fact that the child’s parents were not married.
In many (maybe most) cases, the mother never married the child’s biological father, but she married another man. And the child may or may not have taken the step-father’s name as patronymic—the practice seems to have varied. And if their original patronymic was kept, then the perpetuation, at least in the records, of the parents’ not-married status would continue. The custom was that married women did not change their patronymic nor even often adopted their husband’s surname, if he had one for some reason.
And so it might be helpful and quicker, at least for for Swedish descendants, to have available an option of Not Married for showing a child’s relationships to parents known and unknown.0
Jeff Wiseman said: Juli mentioned this same type of thing further up the discussion but didn't give any specifics. This must have been what she was talking about.
That is really interesting. What you are describing is that a true "Not Married" EVENT could actually occur for a couple relationship based on the place and time of their child's birth!
I would say that has real merit as far as those types of circumstances go. You can use the same approach by not showing a couple relationship between the parents, but then that becomes an issue if they WERE to get married at some later date. Without the "Not Married" event recorded on the couples relationship, that original "Not Married" event would be lost.
The only danger I currently see is that people who didn't understand the event concept might start trying to use it improperly as a general status for the couple relationship when they haven't found any actual evidence that the couple wasn't married. But I don't know how significant an issue that would be. I'd have to think about it some.
I hope that a FS employee has a look at this specific example because I do think that it should bear some consideration. Especially when they do their improvements to the couples relationship area.0
Tom Huber said: One of the things that is missing in this is a Custom fact, which isn't an event, but a fact with regard to the couple. They exist in an individual's record, and include such facts as sex (the gender of the person), name (including Also Known as, Nickname, married name, etc.), Caste, Clan, and Tribe name, and for things that are not included, even a custom (something we can title and use for that person) fact, such as political affiliation, which may or may not have any dates involved.
We need the same capability for the couple and family relationship areas and is something that I have included in past discussions involving the couple relationship area. Now that family relationships -- child to parents -- can be sourced and other elements identified, such an option is needed there, too.
My suggestion for a "custom" fact or event has been largely unacknowledged by FamilySearch, and even as late as a year or so ago, I got a lot of pushback from various FamilySearch representatives, including Ron Tanner, when I suggested the use of a custom event to note a significant milestone in a marriage (Fifty years, for instance). I got the impression that he didn't care that a marriage might last for 50 or 75 years. In a way, given that he is a member of the Church, I was rather disappointed that he conveyed that kind of thinking (it is recorded for all to see in one of his older Facebook Q&A sessions). I wasn't impressed and haven't really bothered to take the time to watch any others, even though there can be valuable information in those presentations.
It doesn't take much to turn anyone off and so Ron and others really need to be careful how they come across when addressing issues and concerns that users express.
For the most part, we haven't seen a lot of pushback lately, but I haven't seen much in the way of encouragement when it comes to the future of the couple relationship area, which now includes family relationships.0
Tom Huber said: Without a doubt, at some point, there will need to be some means to accommodate DNA test results, at least on a Y-DNA and mtDNA level. The problem is that I'm not sure I trust the paternal and maternal DNA haplogroup results. I probably should correspond with Family Tree DNA (not related to the Family Tree family management (genealogy) program) to see what their thoughts are. My son's paternal haplogroup and mine are not compatible and yet he shares DNA with me that indicates that he is my son. So something is going on.
Regardless, there are a number of areas where FamilySearch can do a better job and the family (couple and child) relationship areas are a major area that needs a lot of work. So does, as far as that goes, sourcing outside the vitals section (the only section where sources can be tagged to facts and events).0
Tom Huber said: Talking about other areas where some kind of additional work is needed is ethnic background. Mine is pretty simple -- a mix of European ancestry. But watching Finding Your Roots (an excellent PBS series) reveals that many people have a mix of ethnic backgrounds, including sub Saharan, Asian, European, and so on. It would be nice to be able to accommodate that kind of ethnicity, and not just with a "Race" fact (which is accommodated in the "Other" area. I suspect that when some of this was created, the diversity of ethnicity that most of us carry was not widely known. But shows like Finding Your Roots has brought that out in a major way, even to the point where Dr. Gates, the host of the program, addressed RootsTech last year.
Like **** couple relationships, FamilySearch will also need to address ethnicity beyond a limited set of identities.0
joe martel said: Good discussion. Regarding the topic - having "Not Married" option. There are two specific desires:
1. Person "Never married" - this Person never married. This would be applicable to a Person, say in their details.
2. These two Persons "Not Married Together". Is say together so we understand that we are tlaking about declaring that these two people are not married to each other.
Yes, non-events are hard to prove, because records are specific events (death) that may be unaware of other events (they married and divorced)
Remember there are two type of Relationships. They are independent of each other, because that is the fact of life:
a. Parent-Child Relationships - Between child and parent(s), whether the parents are married or not.
b. Spousal Relationships - formal marriage-like relationship between two people, whether there are children or not.
When you view "couples" in the Family Members view, that view chose to keep family units together so children show up under couple parents (married or not), and spousal persons look the same, whether there are kids or not. Another UI would show spousal couples, then another (often redundant) showing the parents with kids.
There is talk about providing 1 and 2 but I think there is complications that the normal user will find difficult. 1 seems most learnable, but as stated above 2 is really hard because its about creating s spousal relationship that is "Not married together" relationship.
So today, here are your options:
1. Create a OtherInfo fact that the Person was never married, or use the lifesketch, or a Note (yes, i don't like having 3 different mechanisms that look the same)
2. Make sure there is no marriage event, and yes the "add couple relationship" is a call-to-action that is not desired in this scenario. You can put a OtherInfo fact, Note , Lifesketch saying these two people (PIDs) were not married together. Yes clunky.
The worry is if the site allowed non-event conclusions, where does it end? "Never was living in Utah", "Never dated", "Never graduated High school", "Not biological father - dna proof" ...
Oh, for the DNA, remember DNA is not absolute, its probabilities, especially if it involves not having the DNA of the dead. But you could declare you parent-child relationships with the "Biological" lineage type to record those DNA "facts"0
Cary Holmquist said: Thanks for your consideration and advice on how to proceed.
My reason for bringing up the recitation about Swedish documentations of Not Married instances was to provide one example of how other cultures viewed the events and documented them—there are probably more with different degrees of documentation.
Further I was hoping for a quicker, more direct way to enter the status into FamilySearch records, which are so widely viewed and reviewed throughout the world and as a book of remembrance....
However, I understand the complexities of technical changes that it would involve, along with the exponential probabilities of misunderstanding and mis-use such a quick click option might tend to invite. And so we can, as a minority of DOCUMENTED Not Married “events” such as oäkta children, proceed with the time-consuming, “clunky” methods that we have here-and-there learned in order to document, in a shadowy way, a verifiable event.
As an aside, I cannot leave this without also warning that the same dangers of misunderstanding and mis-use applies in another way as well in FamilySearch also: that the inexperienced or overly enthusiastic ordinance searcher can still find these names and events and misuse them for sealing parents together who were never married in life. I encounter many instances of mis-application (even amongst Mormon pioneer ancestors whose ordinance work in life was completed and yet re-submitted and duplicated in the temple) without any apparent regard to the documentation in Sources, Life Sketches, Memories, Other Information, Notes and using Message features for communication. Which are part of the inherent risks in having a otherwise applaudable open source system that otherwise fosters cooperation and collaboration and adding richer details as they are discovered and verified. It can be a tightrope to walk and we need to be ever vigilant about accuracy wherever we can. Prayer is always our way to find and keep that inspiration about doing what is right.0
Adrian Bruce said: Joe - re 'Make sure there is no marriage event, and yes the "add couple relationship" is a call-to-action that is not desired in this scenario'.
That's a good point that I hadn't considered. For my ancestors, William Harding and Martha Beech (the unmarried servant and the employer's son), the User Interface is instructing me to "Add Couple Relationship"! Not good.
How about replacing that "Add Couple Relationship" by two lines:
"No ongoing couple relationship yet known"
"+ Add Couple Relationship if known to exist"
I think that version makes it clearer what's going on and makes it less of a call-to-action.
I can see from the IT viewpoint that adding "Not Married Together" would normally result in an update to the Couple Relationship - which appears to be not what's wanted because the presence of the Couple Relationship implies the existence of the ongoing relationship, even if there are no "marriage" events present. This would result in all sorts of knock-on changes needing to be done.0
Adrian Bruce said: As another thought - if parents are created for a child, so far as I can see, they are created with a Couple Relationship by default. Even though there is, at that time, no evidence for an ongoing-relationship.
Wouldn't it be better to create them without a Couple Relationship by default? That way people would get to see how to create a couple without that relationship instead of being, all too often, baffled how to record "Not Married".0
David Newton said: "If that is the standard, then we should delete all marriages that can't be proven."
Yup. That is EXACTLY what should happen. If there is no source documentation to back up a "marriage" then claiming it happened is a fantasy
I have exactly this issue in my direct line. I know my ancestors lived as man and wife. I know they had multiple children who were treated as legitimate both during and after their lifetimes. I know they were legally able to marry as one was a spinster and the other a widower. I have even located completed banns for them. Have I been able to find an actual marriage for them? Nope. Not in parish registers nor in the GRO marriage indexes. So unless something really weird happened I have concluded that no actual marriage took place. Since that is the case no marriage should be shown in FSFT. There is also no realistic possibility of finding out what happened as they and everyone who knew them are long dead.0