How to chart divorce on a family tree

Written by ploni almoni | 13/05/2017
How to chart divorce on a family tree
Divorces can be recorded on a family tree. (family tree image by Judy Ben Joud from

Historically, family trees have been more concerned with lineage than with relationships, and therefore little attention was devoted to the marital status of parents. With a minor addition of a symbol or small notation, however, it's easy to modify traditional family trees to indicate the end of a marriage by divorce, and even to trace the offspring of people after subsequent marriages. Many software programs come equipped with this feature, and display divorce in different ways, but a paper-and-pencil solution can be both elegant and dignified.

Position the divorced partners together as one would when they were married, with two parallel horizontal lines connecting them. This is the traditional symbol for marriage.

Draw a vertical line extending below the midpoint of these horizontal lines and list all children from that marriage extending to the left and right, with older children on the left.

Write "div." on top of the horizontal lines indicating the marriage of the partners and the year of their divorce. Do not use the letter "d," which is often used to indicate "death."

Position the new marriage partner(s) immediately beside the former spouse(s), in the case of remarriage. Draw an additional parallel horizontal line connecting the divorced spouse with the remarriage partner(s).

Indicate the offspring of the remarriage by extending a vertical line to children, as with the children from the first marriage.

Things you need

  • Pad of paper
  • Pencil

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