I recently got a DNA match for my wife and it was suggested that this man is a 1st cousin once removed or 2nd cousin. When I pursued that branch of the tree to confirm the match, it seems they are actually 3rd cousins. With a 3.6% match and 252 cM, is there a way to know which one is more likely? Or is this just one of those things where the estimate of relationship is nothing more than a guess?

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    DNAPainter is your friend here. It gives you a list of possible relationships and probabilities. Some of them, I suspect, you will be able to rule out immediately (great-great-uncle, for example) – Marshall Clow Jun 5 '20 at 15:21

You are correct it is just an estimate based on the mathematical range of the cM's that they are using to identify a cousin. For example on one website a third cousin is 0-217 cM but on another company chart a third cousin is 0-109 cM.

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