Is It Illegal to Marry Your Cousin in Kansas? Here’s What the Law Says

The topic of marrying one’s cousin can be a complex and occasionally controversial one. While some cultures and historical periods have embraced cousin marriage, many societies and legal systems have restrictions in place. Let’s delve into whether Kansas permits marriage between cousins.

Kansas Law: A Clear Prohibition

Kansas has a clear statute prohibiting marriage between cousins of the first degree. Kansas Statute §23-2018 states:

“All marriages between… first cousins… shall be absolutely void.”

This means that individuals who share a grandparent (i.e., are biologically first cousins) cannot legally marry in the state of Kansas.

Historical Context of Cousin Marriage Laws

Historically, cousin marriages were more common, especially within royal families and certain cultural groups. However, in the mid-19th century, many states in the U.S., including Kansas, began enacting laws banning cousin marriages. These laws were often spurred by concerns about potential genetic risks associated with close familial unions.

Reasons for Restrictions

  • Genetic Concerns: The primary reason for laws restricting cousin marriage is the increased risk of passing on recessive genetic disorders to offspring. Children born to closely related parents have a higher chance of inheriting two copies of a harmful recessive gene, leading to conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or certain intellectual disabilities.
  • Social and Ethical Considerations: Beyond the genetic concerns, there are social and ethical considerations that factor into laws against cousin marriage. Some argue that such unions can blur traditional family roles and potentially create complex power dynamics within families.
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Frequency of Cousin Marriages

While cousin marriage is still practiced in some parts of the world, it is relatively uncommon in the United States. Data on the exact frequency of cousin marriages is limited, but estimates suggest that they represent a small percentage of all marriages in the U.S.

States Where Cousin Marriage is Legal

It’s important to note that not all states in the US ban cousin marriages. Currently, the following states allow marriage between first cousins:

  • Maine
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • District of Columbia

Some states permit cousin marriage with certain conditions, such as age requirements or genetic counseling.

FAQs

  1. What about second cousins?

Kansas law does not explicitly prohibit marriage between second cousins (who share a great-grandparent).

  1. Are there exceptions to the first-cousin marriage ban in Kansas?

No, there are no exceptions to the law prohibiting marriage between first cousins in Kansas.

  1. What are the penalties for violating the cousin marriage law in Kansas?

A marriage between first cousins in Kansas is considered void, meaning it is not legally recognized. There may be additional legal penalties depending on the specific circumstances.

  1. Can cousins who married in a state where it’s legal have their marriage recognized in Kansas?

No. Even if cousins were legally married in another state, their marriage would not be recognized in Kansas.

Sources

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have specific questions about cousin marriage laws, please consult with a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.

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