Legal Hotline Spotlight*Please note: Any questions regarding Legal Hotline Spotlights should be submitted via the Virginia REALTORS® Legal Hotline. Our attorneys are unable to respond to questions through our comments section.

Q: Article 4 of the Code of Ethics requires written disclosure if a REALTOR®’s client is “immediate family.” How do we define “immediate family?” Does this include in-laws, cousins, and ex-spouses?

A: The Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual states, “‘Immediate family’ as used in the Code of Ethics includes, but is not limited to, the REALTOR® and the REALTOR®’s spouse and their siblings, parents, grandparents, children (by birth or adoption), grandchildren, and other descendants.”

Based on this definition, in-laws are included, but the list is not exhaustive. For cousins, if the cousins grew up close together almost like siblings, then this may need to be disclosed under Article 4. For ex-spouses, the answer more likely depends on the specific facts. Some ex-spouses remain close and continue to raise children together, so they might be considered immediate family. On the other hand, some ex-spouses have little to no relationship after a divorce. When in doubt, it probably does not hurt to disclose the relationship.

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