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Tips on Fixing Relationship Problems

Related Topics:  Adding Multiple Parents and Single Parents in Legacy

Relationship problems can creep into your family file in a number of ways: entering duplicate records by mistake; importing GEDCOM files with existing problems; accidentally merging the wrong people, and so forth.  Relationship problems may be apparent when you examine a family in Family View; or open the Spouse List, Child List or Parent List for an individual; or view  a relationship; or run the Relationship Calculator.

Relationship problems can also result in looping errors when creating reports; GEDCOM files or web pages:

The above warning may indicate a serious relationship problem. For example, during a merge session a user may accidentally merge the record of John Smith III with his grandfather John Smith I, so that John Smith III is now "his own grandpa" and married to his grandmother, which creates an endless loop. (See Problem 11 below.)

On the other hand, the above warning may not indicate a problem at all. Normally, this message only means that a person may be descended from a direct line ancestor through more than line. This is common in families where cousins have intermarried over the course of several generations. Increasing the number of encounters will stop the warning from repeating. Nothing more needs to be done as long as all relationships have been entered correctly.

Relationship problems can also be suggested in the Potential Problems List or Report:

When the Potential Problems List indicates that an individual was born was born after he died, or that an individual was born when his parents were under the age of 13, etc., there are dates that need to be verified and potential relationship problems that may need to be fixed. Often these kinds of errors require further research to clarify your data. To generate a Potential Problems List, click on Reports and select All Reports (Books and others) and then click the Potential Problems button.

Inexperienced Legacy users often makes things worse trying to fix relationship problems by deleting a record when they should unlink, or creating a duplicate record when they should link to an existing record.  Here are 14 common relationship problems and how to fix them. Work from Family View when carrying out these solutions:

Problem 1: Spouses not listed in order of marriage dates in lists and reports.

Solution: Open the Spouse List by clicking on View, then select Spouse List and choose either the husband or wife on the submenu.

• To sort the Spouse List automatically by the marriage dates, click Sort. Note: All marriages with no marriage date are sorted to the top and the remaining are displayed in date order.

• If you still need to change the order, highlight the spouse you want moved, then click the up or down button in the lower right corner of the window until he/she is in the right position.

. . .

Problem 2: Children not listed in order of birth dates in lists and reports.

Solution: Open the Children List by clicking on View, then select Children List

• To sort the Children List automatically by the birth dates, click Sort. Note: All children with no birth date are sorted to the top and the remaining are displayed in date order.

• If you still need to change the order, highlight the child you want moved, then click the up or down button in the lower right corner of the window until he/she is in the right position.

. . .

Problem 3: An individual is connected to the wrong parents/appears as a child in the wrong family.

Solution: With the individual in the Child List below the wrong parents in Family View, click on him/her with the right mouse button.  A popup menu will appear.  Select select Unlink from Parents from the popup menu.  Warning: If you click Delete, this individual will be completely removed from the family file.  If the individual is married and has children, he/she will also be deleted as a spouse and a father, which creates additional problems.  Unlinking is almost always the best choice.

To link the child to the correct parents, first get the correct parents in the Husband and Wife positions in Family View.  Next, with the right mouse button, click once in a blank space in the Child List below the Husband and Wife and then select Link to an Existing Son or Daughter in the popup menu.  Find the child in the Name List first and select him/her.

. . .

Problem 4: An ex-spouse is always showing in Family View, rather than the preferred spouse.

Solution: Open the Spouse List, highlight the preferred spouse, and click Set to Preferred.

. . .

Problem 5: The gender of the Husband and/or Wife are inverted (he is female; she is male or both have the same gender).

Solution: Click on Edit and select Swap Husband and Wife

• If there is more than one spouse for either the husband or wife, the individual must be unlinked from the other spouse before you can swap or manually change the gender.  The unlinked spouse will need to be relinked and the marriage information re-entered as the final step.

• If the couple both have the same gender, the error will be reported at the conclusion of a check and repair of the family file. (Click on File and select File Maintenance > Check/Repair.)  If the couple has no other marriages, Click on Edit and select Swap Husband and Wife. You may need to do this twice in a row. If the couple has other marriages, unlink the marriage, next change the gender of the affected person and then recreate the marriage as the final step.

. . .

Problem 6: An individual has marriages to a duplicate spouse (duplicate spouse records need to be merged into one record).

Solution: In the Spouse List make note of the RIN numbers, then close it. In Family View highlight the spouse with the duplicate records, then click on the Merge button and select Manual Merge. The Merge window is displayed with the spouse on the left side. Next click Select Right to open the Name List and select the duplicate record for merging. Refer to the RIN numbers to help you find the correct record. You will now have the duplicate record on the right side of the window. Click the Merge Right Individual into Left Individual button and close the window when completed. All children will remain linked to both both of their parents.

. . .

Problem 7: An individual is married to the same spouse more than once (same spouse RIN; different MRINs).

Solution: Open the Spouse List by clicking on View, then select Spouse List and choose either the husband or wife on the submenu.  Next, in the Spouse List highlight the duplicate marriage, and click Unlink on the right side of the window. The Unlink window is displayed. This window shows the name of the current individual from whom the spouse will be unlinked along with a list of any children that are currently linked to these two people.  Where one linking has no children and the other has the children. unlink the one that doesn't have the children attached.  In this situation you can safely continue with the unlinking, and the children will remain linked to both of their parents. Only the superfluous marriage will disappear.

. . .

Problem 8: An individual has a marriage to an Unknown spouse...

Solution: If the marriage to the Unknown spouse has no children linked to it and you want to get rid of it, highlight the Unknown in the Spouse List and click Delete.

• If there are children connected to the Unknown spouse and it is only the word Unknown that you want blanked out, then click
on Options on the Menu bar and select Customize. The Customize screen will open.  Next select the Data Format tab and under Word for Blank Records choose (Just leave it blank).  Click the Save button to exit.

• If you know the name of the Unknown spouse, in Family View, click on Unknown and add the person's information.  If this creates a duplicate record, then manually merge it with the other record.  (In this situation, linking to an existing spouse can create problem 7 above.)

. . .

Problem 9: There is a marriage of Unknown to Unknown.

Solution: Open the Marriage List, highlight the Unknown to Unknown marriage, then click the Options button and select Remove the Marriage Link.

. . .

Problem 10: An individual appears more than once in the Name List.  (He/she has as more than one record because there are different RINs.)

Solution: Make note of the RINs, then select the first record. This individual will now be the current individual in Family View. Next, in Family View, click the Merge button on the toolbar and select Manual Merge. The Merge screen will open with the current individual on the left side. Next click the Select Right button and find the duplicate record for the individual (refer to the RINs). If there is different information for the individual on the left and right, chose the pieces of data you want to keep and then click Merge Right Individual into Left Individual. (Click the Help button for further guidance.)

. . .

Problem 11: An individual is inadvertently combined with another person of the same or similar name, resulting in a marriage to the wrong spouse and/or an individual appearing as a child in the wrong family.

For example, John Smith III is accidentally merged with his grandfather John Smith I, which make him his "own grandpa." In a situation like this, one of the individual records has actually disappeared and the final merged record may have scrambled information. This type of bad merge will result in a looping problem when generating reports and GEDCOM files.  Extreme care must be taken so that you don't make the situation worse as you try to fix the multiple problems that can result from a bad merge.

Solution: If the above situation is the result of a bad merge, once the merge session is done you can immediately undo it.  Click on Edit on the menu bar and select Undo Merge from the pulldown menu.  Note:  This option will undo all of the merges done during the merge session.  In addition, once you start making changes to your family file, the Undo Merge option disappears.

• If the problem isn't the result of a bad merge, or you make changes to your family file after the merge, then you will have to adapt the steps below.

1. Before you do anything else, print out all of the affected Family Group Records where the person appears as a child and a husband or wife (there may be more than one affected marriage). Examine these sheets carefully and with a marker, highlight the bad information and relationships on each sheet. Refer back to these to help you remember where you are in the repair steps and for marriage information, etc. that can get deleted as you proceed.
2. The easiest family to fix will be one where the problem individual appears as an out-of-place child. In Family View put the out-of-place child in the Child List below the parents. Then, with the right mouse button click on the out-of-place child and select Unlink from Parents from the popup menu.
3. Next, add the correct child (the missing one) to the the family. Check the Name List first to see if he/she is already in the family file. If so, then link him/her as an existing individual (make sure you don't re-link to the person you just unlinked in step 2). If he/she does not appear in the Name List, then add him/her as a new person. Make sure his/her individual information is correct.
4. In Family View, go to the family where the problem individual appears as a parent and put him/her in the Husband or Wife position. Make sure his/her information is correct.
5. Open the Spouse List by clicking on View, then select Spouse List and check for any spouse(s) that do not belong. Make note of the names and RINs of the wrong spouses. Highlight the incorrect spouses and click Unlink. In the Unlink screen click on Yes.
6. In Family View put the person(s) you just unlinked in the Husband or Wife position. They will have an Unknown spouse.
7. Click on Unknown and add him/her as an existing person. This is usually the person you added as a child in step 3.
8. Make sure all the individual and marriage information is correct.
Note: In many cases, further genealogical research is required to clarify relationships and dates.

. . .

Problem 12: In an attempt to delete an unwanted family, your entire Legacy file with everyone in it has disappeared.

Solution: If you clicked on File and selected Delete Family File, then you have inadvertently sent your Legacy file to the system Recycle Bin. Please exit Legacy, then open the Recycle Bin, then select your family file (it has a .FDB extension) and restore it.  Next reopen Legacy, then click on File and select Open Family File and find the restored family file.

. . .

Problem 13: When navigating through my family tree people who are supposed to be there aren't showing up even though they are in the Name List. Or, a report or chart does not show all of the people or family lines, or the relationship calculator is not finding everyone.

Solution: Click on View on the menu bar and select Tree Finder. Often times there are unlinked individuals or groups of individuals in your family file along with your main family line. These other people are often hard to find because they never show up when you are navigating through your family or when printing reports. They are displayed in the Name List but you can’t tell if they are connected to the main line. Tree Finder will identify disconnected individuals and lines, which need to be attached to your main family line.

• All of your various family lines should be kept together in one file. Don't have separate files for paternal and maternal lines, etc. Legacy cannot "look into" another family file for data when compiling charts and books or calculating relationships. Please import the records from the separate family files into one master Legacy family file with everyone in it.  See "Copying Between Two Family Files" for more information.

• If the problem isn't the result of family lines kept in separate files, the disconnects are often caused by Problems 6, 7, 8 or 10 above. If the children in a family have the same parents, duplicate parental records and marriages must be fixed. If they remain linked to different parental records then seeming disconnects can and will occur.

• The problem might result from the need to set direct lines as preferred. (Click on Tools, chose the starting person and select Set Direct Line as Preferred.) Or you may need to run Check and Repair. (Click on File and select File Maintenance > Check/Repair. If errors occur during the repair steps, click NO in the error message box. Do Check and Repair twice in a row).

. . .

Problem 14: After entering new ancestors, their relationship to the starting person ("Self") doesn't show in Family View.

Solution: Reset the relationships. In Family View go to the starting person ("Self"), then click on Tools and select Set Relationships.

. . .

And last of all, just for fun, "I'm My Own Grandpa" by Ray Stephens:

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