In Michigan Marrying Your First Cousin in Michigan is Illegal, but Here’s What the Law Says


Although it may not seem socially acceptable to others, marrying your first cousin is quite frequent in several cultures and parts of the world. Regarding the legitimacy and legality of cousin marriages, state laws in the US differ from one another. This article will concentrate on the state of Michigan, where it is unlawful to marry your first cousin, albeit there are some subtle legal distinctions.

What Are The Rules Regarding First Cousins In Michigan Marriage Laws

The website of the Michigan legislature makes it abundantly evident that it is against the law to wed first cousins in Michigan. Marriage between the following relatives is forbidden by law:

  • ancestors or descendants
  • Brother and sister (blood or affinity)
  • aunt and nephew
  • uncle and niece
  • first cousins

Being connected by marriage, such as a spouse’s brother or a step-sibling, is called affinity. It is believed that any degree of first cousin kinship is prohibited because the legislation is silent on the minimum level of consanguinity (blood relation) needed for the prohibition to be in effect.

Are There Any Legal Exceptions

Michigan has a complete ban on first-cousin marriages, in contrast to several other states that have certain exclusions or requirements for permitting first-cousin marriages, such as age, infertility, or genetic testing. In Michigan, there are no unique rules or situations that would allow first cousins to get married.

However, as long as they were lawful in the jurisdiction in which they were performed, Michigan has always acknowledged first-cousin marriages that were celebrated outside the state. This implies that if two first cousins moved to Michigan after getting married in a state or nation that permits cousin marriages, their union would be regarded as lawful and recognized in Michigan.

The Michigan Attorney General corroborated this in 1939, as did several court cases about inheritance and immigration. For instance, in the 1980 case of Matter of Balodis, the Immigrant and Naturalization Service reversed a ruling that had refused immigrant status to his first cousin’s wife, a resident of Michigan. The court decided that their marriage, consummated in Latvia, was lawful and duly acknowledged in Michigan.

Does the Michigan Marriage Application Request Your Relationship Status

You must apply for a marriage license at the county clerk’s office if you intend to get married in Michigan. You will be asked to fill out an application form with details about you and your intended spouse, including names, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, and parent names.

Additionally, the form will inquire as to if and how you are linked to one another. Checking one of the following boxes is required:

  • Not related
  • Related by blood
  • Related by marriage

If you select the “You are related by blood” box, you will be prompted to indicate the specific level of relationship, e.g., first cousin, second cousin, etc. In case you select the “you are related by marriage” option, you will have to indicate the specific kind of relationship, like being a step-sibling or your spouse’s sibling.

If you can demonstrate that your marriage was lawfully consummated in a state or nation that permits cousin marriages, you will be able to secure a marriage license in Michigan even if you are first cousins.

Do Adjacent States Permit First Cousin Marriages?

If you live in Michigan and are first cousins who wish to get married, you might be wondering if there are any neighboring states that would let you get married. The short answer is that yes, there are states around Michigan that allow marriages between first cousins. These states include:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Florida

However, you should be aware of the following before deciding to fly to one of these states for your wedding:

  1. The state’s marriage rules and regulations, which cover things like age, consent, residency, waiting period, and more, must be followed when getting married.
  2. The county where you get married will issue you a marriage license, and you’ll need to pay the required expenses.
  3. Two witnesses must be present for the ceremony to be conducted by an authorized officiant, such as a judge, church member, or justice of the peace.
  4. In addition to getting a certified duplicate of your marriage certificate, you must return the completed marriage license to the county clerk’s office where you obtained it.
  5. Your driver’s license, passport, social security card, bank account, and other legal records must be updated with your new marital status and name (if you decide to change it).
  6. Marrying your first cousin may have social, legal, and health repercussions that you should be aware of. These may include stigma, discrimination, inheritance disputes, genetic concerns, and more.

Read More: In Florida Marrying Your First Cousin is Illegal, but Here’s What the Law Says

In Summary

In Michigan, it is against the law to marry your first cousin, yet there are a few subtleties and exceptions. Although first-cousin marriages performed outside of Michigan are recognized as lawful as long as they are performed following local laws, Michigan does not permit first-cousin marriages to take place within the state. In Michigan, the marriage application form requires you to state whether you are related to your future spouse as well as the nature and extent of your relationship. If you live in Michigan and you want to marry your first cousin, you might think about doing it in another state where cousin marriages are lawful. However, you should be informed of the necessary legal and practical procedures as well as the possible repercussions.

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