Consanguinity and what it means to you


Consanguinity (Consanguinidad) is the concept of being from the same kinship as another person; it aims to define the ancestry between two people.

Spain, in common with many European jurisdictions, uses the concept of consanguinity to lay out the heirs of an estate, both for intestate succession and for will based succession. The concept crops up in all aspects of Spanish family law, marriage law, employment law and inheritance law.

For example, depending on the grade of consanguinity, an employee has the right to paid time off for care of, or in the case of death, the mourning of, their relatives.

Parientes consanguíneos are children with “common blood” who share at least biological parent, whereas parientes no consanguíneos are children who despite legally having the same parents have no biological parent in common – for example, one child has been adopted.

In general, although such distinctions have to be made, the Spanish inheritance law does not distinguish between the two cases before mentioned, as long as the adoption has been legally approved and inscribed.

Spanish law provides for several layers of consanguinity depending upon the number of generations in the family tree between two relations. For example, the parent – child relationship is first grade, whereas grandparent – grandchild is second grade.

The consanguinity is divided into two branches:

  • Direct line (linea directa): this is when there is a direct line between two family members. This can be ascendent (parents or grandparents) or descendent (children or grandchildren), depending which way we are speaking.
  • Indirect line (linea colateral): this is when two family members are related by a common ancestor. For example, two brothers or a nephew and aunt.

To measure the grade of consanguinity, we have to go up the family tree until we reach the main branch and then go down to the second member. The number of branches defines the level of consanguinity. For example, you are second level from your sibling (one up to your parent then another branch back down to your sibling), but third level from your aunt (one to your parent, another to your grand-parents, then back down to your aunt).

If you are making a will under Spanish jurisdiction, it is important to correctly measure the level of consanguinity of your relatives when deciding what level of inheritance to leave to each of them, because if you leave an incorrect amount the benefactor has the right to claim more.

Likewise, if you are an employer and an employee has a relative who is sick or who has died, you must assess their level of consanguinity when deciding how much paid leave they are entitled to.

Maria Luisa

María Luisa Cervantes is a chartered accountant who graduated from the University of Granada in 2002. Founder of Cervantes Alarcón Consulting, she is an experienced accountant and financial advisor who is a member of the Almería guild of economists. With more than 15 years of experience in business administration and international trade, she is also a subject matter expert in the UK - Spanish bilateral agreements which cover the rights of expats to live, work and retire in Spain.