It Illegal to Date Your Cousin in Minnesota? Here’s What the Law Says

The concept of “cousins” can conjure up different images depending on your background. In some cultures, cousins are seen as close confidantes, almost like siblings. In others, they might be distant relatives you rarely see. Historically, cousin marriage was a common practice across various cultures, including some royal families of Europe. Even famous figures like Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin married their first cousins.

However, in the modern world, many places have legal restrictions on marriage between close relatives. This blog post dives into the specific case of Minnesota and its laws regarding cousin marriage. We’ll explore the legalities, historical context, and social implications of these regulations.

While dating a cousin might not raise eyebrows in every social circle, the law in Minnesota draws a clear line when it comes to marriage. Let’s delve deeper and understand the nuances of this topic.

Understanding Consanguineous Marriage and its Legalities

Marriage between close relatives, also known as consanguineous marriage, has been a subject of debate for centuries. The primary concern surrounding such unions lies in the increased risk of genetic disorders in offspring. When closely related individuals reproduce, there’s a higher chance of passing on harmful recessive genes that can cause birth defects or health complications in children.

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Recognizing these risks, many states in the US have implemented laws restricting marriage between first cousins. These laws aim to protect public health and promote healthy offspring.

Minnesota’s Take on Cousin Marriage

So, is dating your cousin illegal in Minnesota? The answer is no. There are no laws prohibiting romantic relationships between first cousins in the state. However, Minnesota law does not allow first cousins to marry.

This distinction is crucial. While dating might be a personal choice, marriage involves legal recognition and certain rights. The state, in its role of protecting public health, has deemed it necessary to prevent first-cousin marriages due to the potential genetic risks.

A Look Back: The Evolution of Cousin Marriage Laws in Minnesota

Laws governing marriage continuously evolve to reflect societal changes and scientific advancements. Unfortunately, there isn’t readily available information on the specific historical context of Minnesota’s cousin marriage laws.

Minnesota Law on Cousin Marriage

  • Exceptions to the Rule: Briefly discuss any exceptions that might exist within Minnesota law regarding first-cousin marriage. You can mention if there are religious or cultural exemptions.
    • Clarify that Minnesota law doesn’t have any known exceptions for religious or cultural reasons.

Obtaining a Marriage License in Minnesota

  • Explain the steps involved in obtaining a marriage license in Minnesota. Briefly mention the documents required and the process for applying.
    • You can mention the importance of a blood test, which is not mandatory in Minnesota but might be recommended by a genetic counselor for couples considering marriage if they are close relatives.

Dating vs. Marriage: Legal and Social Distinctions

  • Legal Ramifications of Ignoring the Law: Briefly discuss the consequences if a couple breaks the law and gets married despite being first cousins.
    • Explain that such a marriage would be considered void by the state, meaning it would have no legal standing.
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Minnesota Law on Cousin Marriage

Exceptions to the Rule

It’s important to note that Minnesota law currently doesn’t have any exceptions for religious or cultural practices that might permit cousin marriage. The prohibition on marriage between first cousins applies uniformly across the state, regardless of religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds.

Obtaining a Marriage License in Minnesota

Getting married in Minnesota involves a straightforward process. Couples must first apply for a marriage license from the county clerk’s office in the county where the ceremony will be held. This application typically requires proof of identification, Social Security numbers, and a fee.

While Minnesota doesn’t mandate genetic testing for marriage license applicants, couples considering marriage, especially if they are close relatives, might want to consult a genetic counselor. These healthcare professionals can assess potential genetic risks based on family history and recommend prenatal testing options.

Dating vs. Marriage: Legal and Social Distinctions

Legal Ramifications of Ignoring the Law

The law in Minnesota is clear: marriage between first cousins is illegal. If a couple knowingly breaks this law and gets married, their marriage will be considered void by the state. This means the marriage would have no legal recognition, and any rights or benefits associated with marriage wouldn’t apply to the couple.



In conclusion, Minnesota law prohibits marriage between first cousins. This restriction aims to protect public health by reducing the risk of genetic disorders in offspring of close relatives. While dating a cousin isn’t illegal in Minnesota, the state draws a firm line when it comes to marriage.

Looking Forward

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The legal landscape surrounding cousin marriage laws in the US is constantly evolving. Some states have revisited their regulations, with a few even considering proposals to legalize first-cousin marriage. Whether Minnesota will follow suit in the future is uncertain. However, ongoing discussions and legal challenges across the country might influence future changes in Minnesota’s laws.

Final Thoughts

Cousin relationships are complex and can be viewed differently depending on cultural backgrounds and personal experiences. Minnesota’s law on cousin marriage reflects the state’s commitment to protecting public health. While individual choice is a significant factor in relationships, the potential health risks associated with offspring of close relatives justify the legal restrictions. Ultimately, understanding the legalities and the reasoning behind such laws allows individuals to make informed decisions about their relationships.

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