What is “Family”?

The traditional means of forming family ties is through marriage, blood, or adoption.

The “nuclear family” consists of only “parents, children, and domestic servants.” See Rudy v. Southampton Civic Club, 271 S.W.2d 431, 435 (Tex.Civ.App.—Waco 1954, writ ref’d n. r. e.). Generally, the “extended family” consists of a nucleus group of persons related by blood, marriage or adoption which may include parents, children and collateral kinsmen such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces and the like. This family group is often extended to include the family’s domestic servants and incidental boarders and lodgers. Annot., 71 A.L.R.3d 693, 699 (1976). Cf. Southampton Civil Club v. Couch, 159 Tex. 464, 322 S.W.2d at 518.

Shaver v. Hunter, 626 SW2d 574 (Tex.App.—Amarillo 1981, writ ref’d nre.), cert. denied, 459 US 1016 (1982)

How related one blood relative is to another can be measured in degrees of consanguinity. The Texas Government Code provides, “two individuals are related to each other by consanguinity if: (1) one is a descendant of the other; or (2) they share a common ancestor.” TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 573.022(a).

But sometimes courts look beyond conventional family ties and consider whether a group of people can be considered a functional family.

The “group home” is intended to serve as a home for a few children who, because of an unhappy home life, simply cannot thrive and grow if they remain with their natural families. This home is not to be a detention center for persons in need of supervision, nor is it to serve as a place of treatment for the mentally disturbed youngster, although it will of course provide psychiatric counseling. Rather, this “group home” is intended to function as a replacement family for the victim of an unhappy home who, if left to struggle unsuccessfully with his or her natural family, might well become tomorrow’s delinquent. The “group home” is to provide such children with a stable, family-like existence, to give them the support and nurture they need if they are to grow into mature individuals capable of dealing with the complexities of life.

Group House of Port Washington v. Board of Zoning and Appeals of the Town of North Hempstead, 45 NY2d 266 (1978).

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them- that right.No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)

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