Unknown spouses

Whilst moving three children to their correct father it resulted with the mother having not just her 1st husband but her 2nd husband AND 3 unknown spouses and the children now having four fathers but 3 of which are unknown. How do I resolve this. Robin

I enable display of “RIN” after the each name in my DB so that in cases like yours I can determine if it is a case of duplicate people or duplicate links to the same person. If the RIN for the duplicate person is the same it is a mater of “unlinking” to remove the duplicate link, if they have different RINs, it is a mater of merging the duplicate persons.

Enable the RINs under Settings, Program Settings so you can make sure who is a duplicate or not.

In the Family View display the set of parents with the family group you want to keep. Make sure all the children are added to that family group. With a parent highlighted look at their Info box at the top of the side bar. On the Spouses tab you will see all the family groups they have. The 3 dot menu next to a name has the unlink options. Click on children under the “spouse” in the family group you want to remove the links to, then finally unlink the spouses in the family group from each other. That will clean up the duplicate links and extra family groups.

Thanks for the help. The problem is slightly different and I’ll try and explain. I open the info for the wife. The spouse line gives her 1st husband. The next 2 spouse lines just show in italics “Unknown Spouse” and the final spouse line gives her 2nd husband. It is those 2 unknown spouse lines that I want to delete. I have been able to reallocate the children but need to solve this error which I must admit has occurred many times over the years. Any help will be much appreciated.


When you have the info for the wife showing in any view of the database, look to the upper left quadrant of the screen where info about her is displayed. There’s a Spouses button with the actual number of linked spouses shown. Clicking that button immediately lists all linked spouses right below it with options to Add or Rearrange. There’s a little scroll bar for that list (or you can scroll it with a mouse wheel. Click upon to highlight the unwanted “Unknown” spouse. Observe if children are linked to that individual (there’s a button). Once there are no longer shared children linked for that couple, click upon the three vertical dots to the right of the selected “Unknown” person and choose Unlink. This is just one of the ways to accomplish the task. You could instead bring up the “Unknown” spouse into view (they are sorted to the top of the People index with no surname, given & just their record id if enabled). Once they’re shown onscreen in any view, just right-click upon them and select Unlink.

The Unknown spouse is more than likely a place holder for children linked to the primary person. Removing the link to the child will remove the unknown spouse.

1 Like

Thanks Kevin,

The problem with my Unknown Spouses is that they do not have an RIN, they do not exist and were created by RM when I was reallocating the children to their proper father. There is no Spouses button in the upper left quadrant and so I cannot scroll to an option to Add or Rearrange. My “unknowns” do not appear in the People index as they aren’t actually people just “ghosts” that I want to excommunicate asap. If I knew how to send you a screenshot I’m sure that would help you help me correct this problem. Any further advice?

Sorry, if there’s children it’s Unlink. If there’s not it’s Delete.

Thank you again, but there is no way that I have been able to replicate the screen shot that you have. You have under the person’s name line – Details, Parents 1, Spouses 3. Then below that Add or Rearrange. In trying to come up with your screen I now have lost one “Unnamed Spouse”, two entries for one of the husbands, a named other husband and still one unnamed. If I switch to the generations options then the “unnamed spouse” is there but there is no way of removing it and it’s not linked to any of the family as it in fact does not exist. I have been an RM user for many years but this little problem is driving me nuts. More help needed.

These replies have been assuming you using RootsMagic 8 ? Are you ?

Yes I am and it’s up to date.

Me again,

I’ve just checked. The version on my laptop which is Win 10 is identical to your screen shot but the same version of RM8 on my desktop which runs on Win7Pro is not identical. Therein no doubt lies my problem. I shall now export that Desktop version to my Laptop and follow your advice and see what happens. I’ll let you know.

Unknown spouse is a space holder for the child Fern Fern in this family group with Lawrence as the father. If Fern Fern is a child of Elender E. Lasley then add them as a child to that couple using select existing person. Then click on the arrow under Unknown spouse for children, to open the children’s list. Click on Fern Fern’s 3 dot menu and unlink her.

Thanks for the advice but my “unknown spouse” is only an item created by RM, of no use to anything, unrelated to any data and impossible to remove. I’ll keep working on it and if I find a solution I’ll let you know. All responses so far seem to be based on the opinion that I don’t know the name or relationship of this “ghost” to a spouse or to children but this is just not so because I do know the spouses names etc but when allocating the correct children to the correct marriage of the wife RM decide to create this “unknown spouse” option. When I learn how to do a screenshot of this nuisance I’ll send to you.
Robin Almond

If you open a chat on our website we could also look at it remotely to see what’s happening.

@BOMOROB --in the past I have also had problems with Unknown spouses–some due to a mistake I made BUT others were GHOSTS like yours that just appeared- the only solution I found that worked was to give the Unknown spouse a surname-- DELETE, TRASH, GET RID OF— something easy to find, then you should be able to DELETE them— just do them one at a time since you have more than one–hope it helps