What does it mean to be a family?

If you were asked about the first thought that came to mind when hearing the word “family,” what would you say? If you’re like many Americans then you probably answered: love, kids, mom and dad, and possibly even marriage. But with the family dynamic ever changing and society moving away from the a-typical idea of the nuclear family, you might realize that perhaps your first thoughts might not accurately describe the world around you.

Take for example same-sex marriage. While they may meet the definition of marriage in some states, here in Texas they do not. If they have children, they could consider themselves as a family. After all, there are two parents, just like in a heterosexual marriage, who are taking care of their children. But because of how some states recognize marriage, some people may not view this as a family the same way others may see it.

For some people, the word “family” refers to the people who are related to you usually by blood or marriage. But with blended families, this isn’t always the case. A family might contain children from two separate marriages, perhaps even another child from the current remarriage. While these siblings are not related by blood in anyway, this does not make them any less of a family. Our readers should also consider a family where the parents of a child are not married. Although they do not fit the typical "family" definition because of the absence of a legal marriage, they could still qualify as a family because they are caring for their child.

As our readers are probably realizing, because the definition of family is ever changing so too should the flexibility of our laws. But because this isn’t always the case, legal complications can arise that require the help of a skilled lawyer in order to come to a resolution.

Source: The New York Times, "The Changing American Family," Natalie Angier, Nov. 25, 2013

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