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It's fodder for many jokes, but seriously speaking, is it legal to marry your cousin? The answer depends on where you live, and how closely related your cousin is.
Some famous historical figures married their cousins. Outlaw Jesse James married his first cousin Zerelda. Scientist Albert Einstein married his second cousin Elsa. And several presidents married cousins of more distant relations.
While some states allow these kinds of marriages, others do not. In general, laws about whether it's legal to marry your cousin fall into three categories:
But there are even more nuances to state laws. Some bar first-cousin marriages, but may allow marriages between second cousins (i.e., the children of first cousins), half-cousins, and adopted cousins.
State criminal laws against incest may also effectively prohibit marriages between cousins. That's why it may be a good idea to consult an experienced local family lawyer for advice on whether it's legal to marry your cousin where you live.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.