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Affinity

marriage, degrees, law, england, persons, marriages, related and prohibited

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AFFINITY (from the Latin adfirdias) means a relationship by marriage. The husband and wife being legally considered as one person, those who are related to the one by blood are related to the other in the same degree by qfflniry. This re lationship being the result of a lawful marriage, the persons between whom it exists are said to be related in taw ; the father or brother of a man's wife being called his father or Almost the only point of view in which affinity is a subject of any importance in the English law is as an impediment to matrimony ; persons related by affinity being forbidden to marry within the same degrees as persons related by blood. [Msaattiox.] It is in accordance with this rule that a man is not permitted by our law after his wife's death to marry her sister, aunt, or niece, those relations being all within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity; and therefore, accord ing to the principle just laid down, the prohibition extends to the same relations by affinity also. This rule, which ex cludes from marriage those who are within certain degrees of affinity, is sup posed to be founded on the Mosaic law ; but the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, on which the prohibition is founded, is interpreted by some persons as not re lating to marriage ; and in the case of a deceased wife's sister, the text seems to imply a permission of marriage after the wife's death. The degrees of re lationship, both of consanguinity and affinity, within which marriages are pro hibited, are contained in Archbishop Parker's Table, entitled " A Table of Kindred and Affinity, wherein whosoever are related are forbidden in Scripture and our laws to marry together." Parker, of his own authority, ordered this Table to be printed and set up in the churches of his province of Canterbury. The Con stitutions and Canons Eoclesiastical, which were made in the reign of James I., confirmed Parker's Table, which thus became part of the marriage law so far as that law is administered by the eccle siastical courts. Marriages within the prohibited degrees could formerly only be annulled by the ecclesiastical courts during the joint lives of the husband and wife ; and consequently the offspring of such marriages, though the marriages were considered incestuous by the ecclesiatical courts, was legitimate unless the marriage was dissolved in the lifetime of both the parents. The Act 5 & 6 Win. IV. a.

54, 1835, has declared that all marriages celebrated before the passing of that Act between persons being within the pro hibited degrees of affinity shall not be annulled for that cause by any sentence of the ecclesiastical court; but that all marriages which shall hereafter be cele brated between persons within the pro hibited degrees of consanguinity or af finity shall be absolutely null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever. This act does not define what are the prohibited degrees, and this part of the enactment must be interpreted by a re ference to Parker's Table and the Canons if the question arises before courts spi ritual ; and by statute or judicial de cisions if it arises in the civil courts, as it may do in cases of prohibition or of suc cession. The principal statute is the 25 Hen. VIII. c. 32. An elaborate judg ment was pronounced by Chief Justice Vaughan, in the celebrated case of Hill v. Good (Vaughan's Reports, 302), which affirmed that marriage with a wife's sister is unlawful ; and this judgment, together with the doctrines prevailing in all our text-books from Lord Coke down to 1835, seems to establish that such is the law of England.

It is the prevailing opinion that this act renders all persons incapable of con tracting a marriage who are within the prohibited degrees ; and that the rule of law which makes a foreign marriage valid in England, if celebrated according to the law of the country where it was contracted, merely dispenses with the forms required in an English marriage, and has no reference to the parties be tween whom the marriage is made. This question has been argued and negatived in the Lords, in the case of Sir Augus tus d'Este, who claimed the dukedom of Sussex, on the ground that the sta tutory prohibition of his father's mar riage could apply only to England, and does not invalidate a marriage contracted (as that of the Duke of Sussex was) in strict conformity to the law of the country where it occurred. The recent statute may cause some doubt whether a mar riage contracted in England by foreigners within the prohibited degrees of affinity who could contract a valid marriage in their own country, shall be considered valid in England for every purpose ; for instance, whether, iu the case of the father's intestacy, the children and the wife could take his personal property in England, if the father was domiciled in England.

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