How to draw a family tree with divorce

How to Draw a Family Tree When There Is a Divorce

By: Anne Kinsey

Updated On: March 15, 2018

Special Circumstances Made Easy

Family trees, also known as genograms, provide information as to how people are related and show patterns in a family. Your family tree could include information about your medical history, conflicts, spirituality and more. Drawing a family tree might seem simple unless your family includes special circumstances such as divorce, remarriage, and children born or adopted by different partners. Using the correct symbols and lines helps create a family tree that represents everyone and accurately displays family relationships.

Drawing Women and Men

Women are typically represented by a circle, while men are depicted with a square. Sometimes, gender is unknown because of androgynous names or personal gender-identity dynamics. When you are not sure which gender to draw for someone, use a triangle to represent them on the family tree.

Drawing Marriages

Marriages are drawn as a solid horizontal line that connects two adults on the same level of a genogram. Sometimes, people document the marriage date just above or below the line connecting the spouses. Other important information could also be listed, such as the city, state and country where the marriage took place. For even more detail, include a small photo next to each person's family tree symbol.

Drawing Separation and Divorce

When two married people become separated or divorced, it's important to show it on the line connecting them. Separation is normally indicated by one slash through the line connecting them, while divorce is indicated by two slashes through the line. When multiple marriages are present, sometimes the lines between different spouses and family members are color coded to make the family tree easier to read.

Drawing New Relationships and Remarriage

Divorce is often followed by new relationships and remarriages. To include a new partner on the family tree, extend the line past the first spouse to create a space for the second or third partner. Romantic partners who are not married but are living together or have children together are connected by a dotted line instead of a solid line. New spouses are marked by a solid line with no dashes or slashes. The more partners and spouses that are included in a family tree, the more helpful color coding and dates are in keeping everything in order.

Drawing Children

Children are drawn on the family tree using a vertical line that goes from the spouse who gave birth to or who adopted the child. Biological children are drawn with a solid line that might be color coded when children have resulted from multiple marriages. Adoptive children are depicted with a dashed line, while foster children are represented by a dotted line. Occasionally, a family tree lists the year of birth or birthday for each child above their genogram symbol.


  • Genograms: Assessment and Intervention
  • Journal of Marital and Family Therapy: The Spiritual Genogram in Family History
  • The Journal of Family Practice: The Genogram
  • GenoPro: Rules to Build Genograms
  • GenoPro: How to Create a Second Spouse or Husband


  • Several computer programs are available for creating family trees, and they all work differently. Explore the help section or user's guide for your particular software to learn how to record marriage and divorce data in your digital family tree.

Writer Bio

Anne Kinsey is a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and missionary, residing in rural North Carolina. She is the founder of Love Powered Life, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating loving community for trafficking survivors and their families. Anne has enjoyed writing for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Bizfluent and Career Trend. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband, three children and a house full of furry friends.

How to Make a Kinship Diagram

There are many ways to define “family.” The dictionary offers a few suggestions, including “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head” and “a group of persons of common ancestry.” Princess Diana famously said, “Family is the most important thing in the world,” and if you have seen Lilo & Stitch recently, you know that “family” means that no one gets left behind or forgotten.

For those wishing to further explore the dynamics between family, from individuals who’d like to better understand their heritage to anthropologists who study the norms and values of various societies, a kinship diagram could come in handy. Read on to learn how to make a kinship diagram. 

What is a kinship diagram?

>Kinship diagrams, also called kinship charts, illustrate relationships. You can use a kinship diagram to visualize your lineage, similar to a family tree chart or a pedigree chart; however, kinship charts are more commonly used by anthropologists to quickly draw out relationships as they interview people and to present a culture’s kinship pattern without showing specific names.

Kinship diagram symbols

Before you get started, you’ll need to know the language of kinship diagrams. All kinship charts use the same basic symbols, shown below, to present individuals and social organizations visually. Don’t get this confused with family tree symbols, which look similar but hold different meanings than kinship diagram symbols.


Use a circle for a female.
Use a triangle for a male.
Use a square for someone who identifies as neither sex or both sexes.
Place a line through the appropriate symbol if the individual is deceased.

Marriage and cohabitation

Use an equal sign between two individuals to indicate a marriage.
Use an approximately equal sign (≈) to indicate a cohabiting couple who are not married.
Use a similar sign ( ̴) to symbolize parents who are neither cohabiting or married.
Use a not equal sign (≠) if a marriage ended in divorce.
If the individual has been married twice, use equal signs on both sides of the symbol, with the first spouse on the left.
If the individual has been married more than twice, draw lines connecting the spouses below the symbols.


Use a solid line, straight down from the marriage or cohabitation symbol, to indicate biological descent.
Use a dotted line to indicate adoptive descent.
If you don’t know the parents of an individual, indicate common descent between brothers and sisters by drawing a bar above the symbols.

How to make a kinship diagram

Once you’ve got the symbols down, it’s simple to create your kinship diagram online, especially in an intuitive, collaborative platform like Lucidchart. To avoid starting from scratch, check out our kinship diagram template.

1. Add Ego to the center of your page.

Designate one individual, identified as Ego, as the starting point of your diagram. Most kinship diagrams use a different color or style to highlight Ego. For example, in our template above, Ego is the only symbol filled in with color.


Add Ego’s kin.

Using the kinship chart symbols described above, add in the relationships that you’d like to visualize. Record Ego’s parents and ancestors above Ego, Ego’s siblings at the same level as Ego, and Ego’s children and descendants below Ego.

If you’re using Lucidchart, the majority of shapes you need are available in our “Flowchart” and “Shapes” libraries to the left of the editor. You can also copy and paste special characters (such as the non-equal sign) from the Internet or your word processor.

3. (Optional) Change colors or style based on descent rules.

Though you can stop there, you might want to customize your kinship diagram a bit further to explain the culture you’re diagramming. For example, you could track descent rules, or the cultural recognition of children as kin. Cultures generally follow one or two decent systems:

  • Cognatic descent system (non-unilineal descent): Traces relations through both the father and mother.
    • Bilateral descent system: Considers both sides of the family as relatives.
    • Ambilineal descent system: Requires children to choose either the mother’s or father’s side of the family to consider relatives.
  • Corporate descent system (unilineal descent): Recognizes only one family line as kin.
    • Patrilineal descent system: Recognizes the father’s line as relatives.
    • Matrilineal descent system: Recognizes the father’s line as relatives.

On your kinship diagram, you can use different colors to show the paternal or maternal family lines to clarify these social relationships.

4. (Optional) Write out relationships.

If your kinship diagram has become too extensive, or if you want to make familial relationships 100% clear, you can add a tag below each shape to show its relationship to Ego. Some kinship charts use shorthand for common terms, such as “M” for mother and “B” for brother.

Get started with your own kinship chart 

Whether you’re charting out your own lineage or attempting to trace historical families, it's easy to create your own kinship diagram. Save time when you use a kinship diagram template or family tree template in Lucidchart. Our intuitive platform offers plenty of options to customize your diagram just the way you want it.

Chart your own lineage and visualize present social institutions in a professional setting with a kinship diagram.

Try it in Lucidchart

family tree features and tips

Drawing your lineage with a family tree is a great way to show children their heritage and introduce them to great-grandfathers and other relatives they won't get to see live. For older people, this is a great opportunity not to forget those who are no longer with us, and to create a kind of history.


  • Tips on how to draw a family tree
    • Studying the history of your family
    • Preparing for drawing
    • Drawing a family tree

Studying the history of a kind

First you need to learn more about your origin . Someone is quite familiar with the history of their kind, and someone knows practically nothing about their ancestors, brothers and sisters in other family lines. Before drawing a family tree, you need to collect all the important information that will help you in your work. You need to do it in this order:

  • First you need to find out all the information about your family. This can be done with the help of family members or other relatives, by questioning. If you were asked to compile this family tree at school, then perhaps the information that your loved ones provide you will be quite enough. If you want to learn more about the history of your family, you can use the genealogical database. All the sites you need can be found on the Internet.
  • Please note that if you miss one of the family members, then the family tree will partially lose its meaning. Therefore, you need to make sure that all the information you found is correct. To do this, it is better to check with several sources.

The most interesting thing in is to study the whole history of your family as thoroughly as possible. But if you draw a family tree, then it will be quite difficult to fit all the information received into it, since you will not go beyond the selected sheet of paper, and there will be quite a lot of names.

  • Some consider it necessary to focus on great-great-grandfathers or great-grandfathers, as well as brothers and sisters, since these relatives are more closely related to you than distant ones. That's why, in order to draw all the relatives on the family tree, you have to stop at these generations. If your family is not very large, then in this case you can expand your tree to a more distant generation.

Preparing to draw

First select the correct paper size and the drawing supplies. It is best to choose quality painting materials to make your work look decent.

  • Specialized art shops and stores sell large sheets of paper by the piece. You can choose one strong and beautiful sheet of paper, such as watercolor.
  • One sheet of poster board is also available. It is also sold individually and in a variety of colors. You can buy it in an art workshop or in a stationery store.
  • You will draw a family tree with a simple pencil, and outline with a marker or ink pen. Therefore, do not forget to purchase these items too.

Select the tree shape . Most often, a family tree is drawn in the form of a real tree with many branches. Each branch represents your family. Sometimes the tree is depicted in the form of a diagram, where in the end a tree-like form is obtained, but without drawing surnames. You can draw a family tree as you like, as long as you like it.

Drawing a family tree

First you need to imagine how your family tree should look like as a result and how much space you need to leave for writing names. Drawing with a light pencil , you can erase this or that branch at any time and simply redraw it. That's why you first need to apply with a simple pencil.

Now enter your name . If that is your family tree, then it will begin with your name. You need to write it in such a way that there is enough space around it for the names of your numerous relatives.

  • The family tree will start with your name. If you write it at the bottom of the page, then the branches can be drawn up, from above - then the branches on your behalf will go down. Some start from the side, in which case the branches will go sideways. Do it the way you feel comfortable and the way you like it.
  • If you still decide to depict your family tree in the form of a real tree, then in this case you need to depict it with a light pencil on paper, and place your name in any part of it - this will be the beginning.

Now it's time to add your relatives: parents, brothers, sisters . Parents' names should be placed directly next to your name at the top, bottom, or side. Depending on which tree you have depicted. The names of siblings are written at the same level as yours to show that they are related to your parents.

  • If they have spouses and children, they must also be listed on your family tree. The names of the spouses are written next to each other, and the names of the children are written below them. And you can also draw connecting lines from parents to children, but this is optional.
  • Drawing a family tree should be as close as possible to the composition of your family. You need to indicate both parents, stepmother or stepfather, even half-siblings, since they are also part of your family. The main feature of the family tree is to make sure that you have not forgotten any of your relatives.
  • In order not to forget anyone, it is best to list relatives in the same order. For example, first write the older brother or sister on the left side, and then the rest from left to right or vice versa.

Now you need to enter uncles and aunts, their children, as well as grandparents . From this point on, the family tree will begin to branch out. Next to your father's name, list his siblings and their families (spouses, cousins, and sisters). Next, write the names of your dad's parents and connect them with lines going from each to their children. Do the same with your mother's relatives. It is necessary to depict as many relatives on your tree as possible.

After that, you must continue to enter the names of your great-aunts and grandfathers, great-grandparents, and, of course, do not forget about their families (spouses and children). You need to do this until your family tree reaches the level of population that you intended.

After you finish entering the names , you need to circle the tree with black or colored paints, markers, felt-tip pens, highlighting the names and outline. To make your tree look more colorful, you can decorate it with decorative details:

  • You can use different figurines of boys and girls. For example, to indicate the gender of your relative on the tree, you can cut out circles for females and triangles for males. Thus, by looking at the tree, people can immediately distinguish between genders.
  • You can also use a dotted line to indicate spouses who are divorced. This will give you the opportunity to display the relationship between two people.
  • Your tree can also include the date of birth or date of death of a family member. This will give your tree additional information. Or you can briefly list a biography under each name (date of birth, maiden name, patronymic, and so on).

How to draw your family's pedigree correctly. How to draw a family tree


There are several ways to draw a family tree, but whichever method you choose, you first need to collect the necessary information about your family tree. Get a notebook and write down all the information you know about your ancestors. Ask relatives, talk to grandparents who remember and know much more. Try to find out as much as possible, look at old photos.

Use lines to indicate family ties between parents and children, and use double lines or a plus sign to indicate ties between spouses. You can indicate only minimal information about relatives (surnames, first names, dates of birth and death), but it is better to supplement it with information about the profession, place of birth, hereditary diseases, etc.

When your knowledge of relatives is exhausted, contact the older members of the family on the maternal and paternal lines. Also use the family archive: photo albums, death certificates, work books, letters, etc. Make copies of all important documents for you, as well as photographs of each of the family members. Complete your tree with the information you receive.

In addition to displaying your direct family lineage on the tree, fill in the information of the side branches of the tree. From the corresponding rectangles, draw branches indicating the descendants of the brothers and sisters of your grandfathers, grandmothers, etc.

For deceased relatives, in addition to the name and date of birth, indicate the date of death of the person. It is also desirable to enter significant events that happened to this relative, for example, "Hero of the Great Patriotic War" or "Dispossessed by the authorities and arrested, date of death unknown." For relatives of the times of tsarist Russia, if possible, indicate their estate (nobles, merchants, philistines, peasants).

Use correct adjectives when writing kinship. So the record "cousin uncle" determines the relationship with a person from the second tribe. Don't forget to include in tree adopted children and secondary marriages of your ancestors. The more detailed your tree will be , the more important it will be for you in the future. After all, it is the strength of our kind that sustains us in life.

Drawing is a favorite activity of all children and their parents. When your child has mastered the rules for drawing simple shapes, successfully portrayed some kind of animal or toy, try drawing a cheerful cartoon grandfather with him.


Choose a straight view, slightly to the side. First draw a circle, which will later become the torso of your grandfather.

Stepping back a little from the big circle, draw two small half circles to represent the shoes. Moreover, the left semicircle should be slightly larger than the right one. That is, the far boot should peek out half because of the one that is fully visible.

Issue tree on a large sheet of heavy paper or cardstock (you may need to glue several sheets together). Draw a trunk and branches, draw rectangles, circles, or ovals on them, in which enter the names and surnames of all relatives according to chronology. If information about some ancestor was not found, leave the circle empty so that you can later enter the found data into it at any time.

Instead of circles or rectangles, you can draw fruits or leaves on the tree. Or, for example, enter the names of men in rectangles, and women in ovals or circles, highlight living and deceased ancestors in different colors. Show your imagination and your family tree will become an original and informative interior decoration.

If it is not possible to draw a family tree close-up, arrange it on small sheets of paper in the form of an album or book. For example, place tree on the first sheet of the album, display information about relatives in numbers on the branches. On the next page, place the name list according to the numbering on the tree. On each next sheet, write a short biography of each relative, indicate his number on the tree, place the available photographs.

Related videos

A person's pedigree can be amazing, entertaining and even unexpected. Have you ever tried to make your own tree of life? So you will not only have an exciting time, but also learn much better the history of your ancestors.

You will need

  • stationery / special computer program / money to pay specialists

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The genealogical tree is a kind of tribute to fashion. At one time, such an activity became more popular, at some time it was forgotten and reduced to nothing. Nevertheless, in the history of mankind, the tradition of compiling a family tree has not been lost. Moreover, it began to change. Technological progress allows you to create a family tree using special programs. The world wide web is full of them in the public domain. They are different, all that is required of you is to know as much information as possible about your relatives. We will tell you how to draw a family tree on a piece of paper. After all, this is its first form, and it is worth noting that some authors have been able to create works of art from a simple pedigree scheme. So let's talk about the classics.

You will need:

Deciding on the type of tree

How your family tree will look like is up to you. What kind of paper, form, design, presence or absence of photographs. And also the question of more detailed information about relatives, where you will place the founders of the clan. All these and other answers to questions need to be considered in advance.

What to indicate:

  1. Last name, first name, patronymic.
  2. Dates of birth and death.

Additional information, if you are interested:

  1. Occupation, profession.
  2. Hereditary diseases.
  3. Divorces.
  4. Deaths in unforeseen circumstances.
  5. Social status.
  6. Features of character.
  7. Successes, achievements.
  8. and other interesting points that "pop up" in the process of raising the archives.

You can also draw a classic tree, especially if it's just homework for a student.

Systematize information

Before you start compiling a pedigree, carefully study the documents and collect information not only from the closest relatives, but also from more distant ones. You may have to spend more than one month for this. Record and analyze everything carefully.

If you have the opportunity and desire, collect photos of relatives from their family archives. Decide how far you're willing to go. How many generations will your scheme include.

Also, remember that you are limited by the sheet of paper. Therefore, you can immediately count on a drawing paper or even several drawing papers. Keep in mind that the "tree" will be wide enough.

  • If you are at the bottom, then, accordingly, the pedigree will "climb" up. Brothers and sisters are also with you in the same row.
  • Next, add the rest of your generation's relatives—uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. Arrange the branches of these families symmetrically, both maternally and paternally. Gradually move on to the second generation - grandparents and their pedigrees. Depending on the number of generations, the branches of the tree will grow.

    Classically, the paternal line is on the right, the maternal line is on the left.

    Connect the members of the tree with family lines so that it is clear who is from which dynasty and who belongs to whom. We also recommend separating relatives by gender.

    In general, there can be as many levels of the tree as you wish, and your children can continue your work. Therefore, try to do everything neatly, clearly and on a strong, as large a sheet of paper as possible. You can buy similar copies in art stores.

    In order to do their homework perfectly, schoolchildren, as well as their parents, are wondering how to draw a family tree for a child to school.

    This activity is not difficult, but requires some preparation and awareness of who the ancestors were.

    Therefore, it will be exciting for both children and parents, who in the process of doing it can remember their genealogy, acquaint the child with his ancestors.

    You also need to be prepared for the fact that you will have to answer questions that will certainly follow from an interested baby, so you need to allocate a lot of time to complete this task.

    It's not just the school curriculum that has an assignment that requires a picture of a family tree. It is also faced by children attending kindergarten. But due to their age, the task falls mainly on the shoulders of the parents.

    But schoolchildren, as it is right, do it on their own, asking for help from their parents in order to obtain more complete information about this or that relative.

    The main goal pursued by teachers who introduce this task into the school curriculum is to study their family, showing children's interest in the history of their family.

    With the help of this task, children can be explained that their ancestry is not only grandparents, aunts and uncles, whom they regularly see, but also those who lived long before they were born.

    This is a great opportunity to plunge into history, but do it in a rather interesting and exciting way.

    Children can draw a family tree for a school lesson in two ways. The first one provides for the image of relatives up to the second or third generation, so they are able to master this task without parental help.

    In the second case, the genealogical approach can be extended and involve more generations. You can portray both a direct relative, for example, an aunt, and all members of her family.

    How to show

    Asking how to draw a family tree, you can find a lot of examples on the Internet.

    But they all have a certain visual similarity, because this is a tree with branches, each of which corresponds to a certain member of the family.

    Work is best done on a sheet of A4 paper using a simple pencil. It can be deleted if necessary.

    Step by step drawing of a family tree:

    • First, draw a tree on a piece of paper. It is better to depict its trunk in the center, and already take branches away from it.

    It should be taken into account that the main branch is a child, therefore, his name should be entered in the work first, and all other family members will come from him.

    At this stage it is necessary to distribute the space correctly. To do this, before starting work, you should decide on the number of relatives, as well as to the line of which parent they can be attributed to.

    • After the child's name is indicated in the drawing, 2 branches must be drawn one level higher. They belong to their parents.

    If the child is not the only one in the family, then brothers or sisters can be depicted with him on the same level. You can supplement the work at this stage with other family members - the spouses of brothers or sisters, if any.

    • Once the parent branches have been plotted, they can be used to draw the next level of grandparents.

    In order to make it clear in the work where whose line is, it is recommended to depict mother's relatives by drawing the branches emanating from her, and father's - from him, respectively. Thus, grandparents will appear in the work.

    • If desired, the pedigree can be depicted further by entering great-grandmothers, great-grandfathers, as well as cousins, second cousins.
    • When all the relatives have taken their place on the family tree, you can proceed to the final stage - ego design.

    It consists in removing unnecessary lines in the drawing and arranging it appropriately. You can erase everything with an eraser, and colored pencils, felt-tip pens or paints will help to make the picture bright. You can decorate the tree in any way you like.

    An interesting solution would be to supplement it with photographs of all relatives that are marked on the tree. But this can only be done if there are appropriate photographs. If they are not at hand, do not despair. You can supplement the names of relatives with their dates of birth.

    Family tree

    A drawing depicting a family in several generations will certainly captivate the child, because this is a great opportunity to learn about the history of people who are part of the family. If the child does not show interest in drawing, then there is another way to get out of the situation.

    Learn more