Family Law & Legal Definition


Family is defined as “one or more persons occupying a single dwelling unit, provided that unless all members are related by blood or marriage, no such family shall contain over five persons, but further provided that domestic servants employed on the premises may be housed on the premises without being counted as a family or families." Greene County v. N. Shore Resort, 238 Ga. App. 236, 237 (Ga. Ct. App. 1999)

Generally a family can mean the following:

  • A group of persons who are connected by blood or by affinity or through law within two or three generations.
  • A group that consists of Parents and their children.
  • A group of persons living together and having a shared commitment to a domestic relationship.

The term family has varied meanings depending on the context it is defined in.

Examples of some Florida Statute defining family:

Title 5, Chapter 39 of Florida Statutes on Proceedings Relating to Children define family as follows:

Fla. Stat. § 39.01

(30) "Family" means a collective body of persons, consisting of a child and a parent, legal custodian, or adult relative, in which:

(a) The persons reside in the same house or living unit; or

(b) The parent, legal custodian, or adult relative has a legal responsibility by blood, marriage, or court order to support or care for the child.

Fla. Stat. § 414.0252 [TITLE 30. SOCIAL WELFARE,CHAPTER 414. FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY] defines family as follows:

(5) "Family" means the assistance group or the individuals whose needs, resources, and income are considered when determining eligibility for temporary assistance. The family for purposes of temporary assistance includes the minor child, a parent, or caretaker relative who resides in the same house or living unit. The family may also include individuals whose income and resources are considered in whole or in part in determining eligibility for temporary assistance but whose needs, due to federal or state restrictions, are not considered. These individuals include, but are not limited to, ineligible noncitizens or sanctioned individuals.

(6) "Family or household member" means spouses, former spouses, noncohabitating partners, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time.

Title 7, Chapter 90 Evidence code defines Family as follows:

Fla. Stat. § 90.4026

(c) "Family" means the spouse, parent, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, adopted child of parent, or spouse's parent of an injured party.

In Colony Hill v. Ghamaty, 143 Cal. App. 4th 1156, 1163 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2006)the court used the definition of “family” that Ghamaty submitted for its consideration, that is “family” is two or more persons related through blood, marriage or legal adoption or unrelated persons who jointly occupy and have equal access to all areas of a dwelling unit and who function together as an integrated economic unit (San Diego Mun. Code, § 113.0103).However the court ruled in favor of the association holding that the term “integrate” means “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole.” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dict. (11th ed. 2006) p. 650.) The mere payment of rent and a share of the utilities to Ghamaty did not blend the group into any type of unified whole. Beyond Ghamaty's self-serving statement at the Board meeting that he considered his renters “family,” he produced no evidence suggesting he shared meals with or had any type of relationship with the renters, with the exception of the familial relationship with his cousin. Therefore the court properly ruled that by renting out rooms Ghamaty was not using his home for single-family dwelling purposes.