Is Dating Your Cousin Illegal in Colorado? Here’s What the Law Says

Love can blossom in unexpected places, and sometimes, that unexpected place can be close to home. Cousin relationships have a long and complex history, with varying legal and social acceptance across cultures and throughout time. Today, we’ll delve into the specific case of Colorado and answer the question: is dating your cousin illegal in this state?

The Legal Landscape in Colorado

The answer is clear: dating your cousin is not illegal in Colorado. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14, Article 2, Section 102, which outlines marriage requirements and prohibitions, does not include any restrictions on marriages between first cousins. This aligns with Colorado’s stance on individual liberty and freedom of choice in personal relationships.

For comparison, neighboring states like Utah and Kansas do have laws prohibiting marriage between first cousins. Nationally, around 17 states, including California, New York, and Florida, share Colorado’s legal stance on cousin relationships.

A Historical Perspective

Cousin marriage laws in the United States have undergone significant changes over the past century. Traditionally, such unions were not uncommon, particularly in rural areas or isolated communities. However, advancements in genetics during the 19th and 20th centuries revealed the increased risk of recessive genetic disorders being passed down to offspring when parents are closely related. This scientific understanding fueled a shift in public opinion and legal restrictions.

Beyond the Law: Social and Ethical Considerations

While Colorado law permits cousin dating, social and ethical considerations remain. Offspring of cousin couples have a slightly higher chance of inheriting certain recessive genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease. It’s crucial for couples considering having children to undergo genetic counseling, which can assess potential risks and provide informed decision-making support.

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Beyond genetics, social stigma can also surround cousin relationships. Religious beliefs in some cultures may forbid such unions, and societal norms often frown upon them. This stigma can lead to feelings of isolation or judgment for couples involved in cousin relationships.

Individual Choice vs. Public Health

The legal framework in Colorado reflects a respect for individual autonomy in personal relationships. Adults have the right to choose their partners, regardless of familial ties. However, public health concerns regarding the potential for genetic disorders in offspring warrant responsible decision-making.

  • Carrier Status and Prenatal Testing: A genetic counselor can analyze each partner’s family history and genetic makeup to determine if they are carriers for any recessive genetic disorders. If both partners are carriers for the same condition, the offspring have a higher risk of inheriting it. Prenatal testing during pregnancy can further identify potential issues with the developing fetus.
  • Importance of Open Communication: Open and honest communication is essential within cousin relationships. Discussing potential genetic risks, social stigma, and individual expectations for the relationship is crucial for a healthy and lasting partnership. Both partners should feel comfortable expressing their concerns and making informed decisions about the future.
  • Finding Support: Navigating a non-traditional relationship like a cousin relationship can be challenging. Support groups or online communities specifically for individuals in such relationships can offer a sense of belonging, understanding, and shared experiences. These communities can be a valuable resource for navigating social stigma and finding emotional support.


While dating a cousin is legal in Colorado, the decision comes with a complex set of considerations. Understanding the legal framework, potential genetic risks, and the realities of social stigma is crucial for anyone contemplating such a relationship.

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Balancing Perspectives

There’s no single “right” answer when it comes to cousin dating. Individual autonomy and the right to personal choice are important, but so is responsible decision-making concerning potential health risks for offspring.

A Final Thought

Love is multifaceted, and sometimes, it finds a spark in unexpected places. Whether you choose to pursue a relationship with your cousin is a deeply personal decision. Regardless of your choice, prioritize open communication, informed decision-making, and seeking support if needed.

Further Research

This article provides a starting point for understanding cousin dating in Colorado. We encourage further research for those seeking in-depth information. Consider consulting with a genetic counselor, exploring resources for non-traditional relationships, and familiarizing yourself with relevant legal codes in Colorado.

By approaching the situation with knowledge, open communication, and respect for all viewpoints, individuals can navigate this complex topic and make responsible choices for their relationships and future families.

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