Posted by Ancestry Team on May 17, 2010 in Family Tree Maker

If you determine that an individual in your family tree never married or never had children, you’ll want to record these facts in your tree. This helpful information can save other family researchers (or you!) from spending time on fruitless searches.

If an individual was never married, simply enter “Never married” in the Marriage Date field. Now this information will appear on charts and reports.

For individuals who never had children, I decided to create a custom “No descendants” fact. Facts have the advantage of allowing you to include source information and also display the information in reports or charts. And once you’ve created a fact, you can use it for anyone in your family tree. If you need help creating a custom fact, be sure to check out my last post “Custom Facts“.)


  1. What source do you cite for these negative facts?

    Would it perhaps be preferable to state “No descendants/marriages known as/of ___” – updating the date field on a regular or irregular basis.

  2. I have a problem with the use of the word “FACT” in general, and in particular in a case like this.

    How can anyone say that someone, other than a child that died, was never married or had no descendants?

    It seems to me that the most that could be said is that there has been no evidence discovered that would indicate the person was married or had descendants.

    I much prefer the term “conclusion” for such statements.

  3. Tom Herson

    Clicking on the Custom Facts link to read read your last gets a message that I am not allowed to previews drafts. While we’re at it Tana, I sent you an e-mail on March24, 2010 to the e-mail address in your book and you’ve never responded.Is there some other person or place besides you and the rootsweb ftm help forum where I can get a reasonably fast answer to question I might have?

  4. Richard H.

    I, too, did not realize that “Never Married” could be entered in a date field. In FTM 2010, from Help for Family Tree Maker on the Help menu, under Index, click on “dates” and select the “Date Keywords” topic. There are a number of interesting possibilities besides “Never Married” including “child”, “stillborn”, “young”, “infant”, “dead”, “deceased”, etc. in addition to the various options for “after, before, about, and between”.

  5. Ann Thomas

    Thank you Richard H. for your remarks on Help in FTM 2010 – it has really helped me.

  6. Judith Beckett

    Interesting,Tana, that this comes up now. I am just beginning to write an article on finding gay and lesbian ancestors on our family trees. It’s difficult if not impossible, but, in the future, “never married” and “no descendants” might be helpful as a starting point.

  7. Tana,

    Thank you.

    Two comments:

    1) When I created the No Descendants as a New FACT, I made the properties to be Description Only. No date required.

    2) To show the Never Married in the Marriage FACT, I put the Never Married into the Description field for the Marriage FACT, then typed Never Married in the Description line.

    To Display the Description Field for the Marriage FACT, you need to change (if you haven’t already) the Properties of the Marriage Fact to include Description, to see the Never Marriage displayed.

    I already have the Description showing, as that is where I would put the Church Name for the Marriage.

    As to the Source-Citation, for this Fact, I do have a Source for that Fact and I cite it appropriately.

    Great post.

    Thank you,


  8. Cathy Kroohs

    I have a relative who is unmarried with a child. We know the child’s father’s name, but I haven’t found a good way to enter this information. I either have child of “A” and “B” where “A” and “B” are married, or “A” and unknown father, neither of which is correct. This is not that unusual a circumstance; does anyone have a suggestion as to how I can enter this?

  9. B.G. Wiehle

    My custom marriage fact is labeled ‘Offspring’, and is populated with the number of children, sometimes grandchildren and stepchildren, usually as of a particular date. Often the information source is an obituary. This gives me a way of tracking whether I am missing any descendants and I can explain discrepancies due to 2nd marriages or adoptions.

  10. familyhistorycrw

    What about if there were children born to the union but the parents were never married??

  11. Mary Wilson

    so many variable to stating no children especially if its a man. On a particular line where a person I know married and never had children in his marriage yet has a child by another woman that his family does not know about. Or my father who married in New Mexico and had 10 children all on the census. Left for Mexico in 1922 and there had two other wives and six more children that his first family had no idea what our dad was up to. sixteen children that we know of. Possible more still may show up. Is it easier to trace the children women have. Probably a bit easier, yet some have had children they release for adoption or that died at birth. Never know. For a man, never know. To many instances where a life long marriage produced no children but there were children that the man fathered elsewhere. That his wife did not know about. Instance of a man who fathered children with 3 sister and only married one of them. The other children raised and adopted by the husbands the other two sisters married. ?? This was later proved by DNA. Trying to trace family descendants you can only put what you know. “no known children”. Leaves it open for a lot descendant to show up. I showed up and rattled the surviving children of my dad’s first marriage. Especially since dad was 67 when I was born.

  12. jjbug1

    Appreciate the 2 suggestions: m. NEVER MARRIED and custom fact: No descendants. I also add the symbol “∆” before the birth location which means to me “no descendants”.

  13. Annette

    I do not have FTM, but I have done something similiar to my on-line family tree: under ‘add a family member’ I enter Never Married in the space where the first name of a spouse would go, and the system takes it. I have only done this a few times: in one case, I know a particular great aunt never married, in another case research was exhaustive and never produced a spouse, not in census records, and not in any other public records. BUT, in a third case, purchase of the CW pension file of a half great-uncle showed that he and his wife had two boys who died as toddlers. There was a death record for one, but not the other. Since the names of the parents were not on the death record, and I did not know of the child’s existance, let alone his name, I might never have found the record if I had not purchased the pension file.

  14. Terry

    I am in the middle of doing tree maintenance in FTM, and had never really used the “Plan” tab effectively. Good thing I checked today. The tips about both the Never Married feature, and a potential way to document No Known Descendants was awesome. Also the other tips about checking the Help file with other date options was great. Thanks so much!

  15. Carol

    Thanks for the tip,I too have wondered about how to do this. As to some of the comments. Death certificates have the marrital status. Ture as to the children, there may be other children but If you have personnel knoweledge of the marriage of a couple ie. both of my direct aunts and uncles did not have children, a great aunt did not have children. I think you can list this as a fact if it is personnel knowedge.especially if you can back it up with the census or other proof. Sometimes a couple will divorce and contact lost and a new marriage will occur or a marriage late in life where this marriage has no children, but with other spouses they do. Ie. my in-laws. My father in-law remarried after he lost his wife to a widow. They each had grown children by first marriages but as they were in their 60’s they obviously didn’t have a child during their marriage.

  16. Tana L. Pedersen

    First, thanks to all of you for your comments. It’s always good to see scenarios I haven’t faced and also start a discussion that hopefully helps all of us. I like the idea of saying “as of” and entering a date. As we all know, our “facts” are often proven wrong.

    # 3 George
    Entering the Never Married fact in the Date field works in the 2010 version of the software. What version are you using?

    #4 Tom
    I apologize for not answering your email sooner. As the author of the Official Guide, I try to answer email when I can. I will definitely look for your email immediately. And in the future, if you need quick responses, you can email your questions to or call 1-800-262-3787. Thank you for your comments.

    Even if the couple were never married, they are still the parents of the child and should be entered as such. However, for the couple’s relationship status (entered on the Person tab of the People workspace) you’ll want to choose “partner,” “private,” or “unknown” for the couple’s relationship type.

  17. Russell Tuffery

    in the web version, I have used the Custom field “unmarried, no issue”, as it’s without a date, it appears at the bottom of the page, after the Death field

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