Affinity, the imputed relationship which exists in consequence of marriage between the husband or wife and the kindred by blood of the other. Thus, for example, the wife's kindred bear the same relation by affinity to the husband that they bear to her by consanguinity. Affinity also exists between the husband and one who is connected by marriage with the blood relations of the wife. Two men, for instance, who are married to sisters are related by affinity, but there is no such relationship between the blood relations of the husband and those of the wife, and it ceases properly when the husband or wife dies without leaving issue. Affinity is significant in the law because it constitutes a disqualification of judges or jurors, equally with consanguinity. When such a disqualification exists, the judge cannot act even with the consent of both parties; and if he does, the judgment may be vacated. Thus it has been held in New York that there was a disabling affinity between a judge and the defendant in a cause before him, because the defendant's deceased husband was a first cousin of the judge, and the son of defendant by that husband was still living. This living son preserved the affinity, which otherwise would have ceased on the husband's death.
Affinity is also significant in the laws of marriage. The ecclesiastical law made certain marriages unlawful though they were contracted between persons whose relationship to each other was very remote. Though the statute of 32 Henry VIII., which has virtually furnished the rules of the English law on the subject ever since, forbade the ecclesiastical court to impeach the validity of any marriage between parties who were without the Leviti-cal degrees, yet it was always held under it in England that affinity was an impediment to the same extent as consanguinity; and out of this interpretation of the statute came that rule of the law which has been so much discussed and assailed in England, that a man may not marry his deceased wife's sister. The reason given was that the marriage made the wife's sister the husband's sister; and although in the other branches of the law, with respect to judicial officers for example, the death of either party destroys the affinity and the disqualification, yet the same result has not been conceded in matrimonial cases.