A definition of the family



The exact meaning of “immediate family” varies, and will sometimes be defined in legislation or rules for a particular purpose. This can change over time: in 2005 the Scottish Government proposed to change the definition for purposes of compensation payments after deaths. The definition was to be expanded from “a remaining spouse, opposite-sex co-habitant, parent, step-parent or step-child, parent-in-law or child-in-law or any person who was accepted by the deceased as a child of his/her family” to include “any person who had accepted the deceased as a child of the family, the brother or sister of the deceased, any person brought up in the same household as a child and who was him/herself accepted as a child of the family, the same sex partner of the deceased, or any person who was the grandparent or grandchild of the deceased”.[3]

The Missouri Code of State Regulations,19 CSR 15-7.021 (18) (H) states that “an immediate family member is defined as a parent; sibling; child by blood, adoption, or marriage; spouse; grandparent or grandchild.”[6]

The Australian Fair Work Act 2009, Section 12, defines immediate family as “a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee; or a child, parent, grandparent or sibling of a spouse or de facto partner of the employee.”, and “the definition of the term ‘de facto partner’ includes a former de facto partner.”[7]

A travel insurance policy which covers curtailment due to the death or illness of a member of the policy-holder’s “immediate family” uses a wide definition but adds residential requirements: “Immediate Family is your Partner, and: parents, children, stepchildren, fostered or adopted children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, or grandparents, of either you or your Partner, who live in your Home Country.” and “Partner is your spouse or someone of either sex with whom you have a permanent relationship, and who also lives with you at your Home.”[8]


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