It is currently legal for first cousins to marry in Alabama.
The state laws prohibit closer relationships such as siblings or half-siblings.
The application form to get married in Alabama does not ask if you are related. You simply confirm that there is no legal impediment to marriage.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Alabama
All types of cousins can get married in Alabama, including half first cousins and the once removed relationships.
If you’re not sure about how the different relationships work, check on these links:
- first cousins
- first cousins once removed
- half first cousins
- second cousins
- third cousins
- fourth cousins and further
- any cousin relationship through adoption
It’s important to be sure that your partner is your cousin and not a half-sibling. Half siblings are not allowed to get married in the state.
If you’re not completely sure what this means, check out our article that explains half siblings.
What You Should Know About First Cousin Marriage In Alabama
Alabama has one of the easiest procedures to get married in the United States.
This is since they changed the laws and administration in recent years. Couples no longer need to apply for a marriage license.
In some other states, you have to pitch up at a county court and speak with the county clerk or probate judge. These officials may ask if you are related and delve into the exact nature.
This doesn’t happen now in Alabama. You don’t need to engage in person with officials.
How To Get Married In Alabama
To get married in Alabama, you just need to get hold of the marriage certificate form.
You can get this from any probate office or you can download the form.
This form is the single document that you and your partner fill out and submit. However, your signatures must be notarized (so don’t sign the paper straight away in your excitement).
Does the Alabama marriage form ask if you’re related?
Some states have a section where you must state a relationship e.g. first cousin.
We reviewed the Alabama document in 2022. It doesn’t ask for this information.
How to get your signatures notarized?
This may be the first time in your life that you need to find a notary. Don’t worry, this isn’t expensive.
As long as they don’t have to travel to get to you, one notarized document will cost you about five dollars.
But where do you find a notary? You can check with the larger libraries near you, as many libraries have a notary.
Your bank probably has a notary service. UPS stores and some pharmacy chains also have notary services.
Who Can’t Get Married In Alabama?
The way the laws are worded is a bit confusing. I’ll paraphrase them first before I quote the actual laws.
You can’t marry anyone in your direct line. This means your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your grandparents, or great grandparents.
The restriction also includes your stepparents and stepchildren (unless there’s been a divorce that severs these relationships).
You also can’t marry your siblings, aunts, or uncles. This includes full or half relationships. It’s also regardless of whether you are related by blood or through adoption.
Quoting the Code
Here is the relevant section of the state code. Marriage is not allowed between…
…ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption; or
(2) His brother or sister of the whole or half-blood or by adoption; or
(3) His stepchild or stepparent, while the marriage creating the relationship exists; or
(4) His aunt, uncle, nephew or niece of the whole or half-blood.§13A-13-3 of the Alabama State Code (1975)
The major point is that first cousins aren’t listed here.
Alabama laws don’t say explicitly that first cousins can marry. They simply don’t mention the relationship in their restrictions.
Do People Travel To Alabama To Get Married?
Because the process is so relaxed, some people think that crowds of first cousins from out of state descend upon Alabama to get married.
Alabama is bordered by four neighboring states. But only one of these, Mississippi, doesn’t allow close cousins to tie the knot.
Let’s compare that to first cousin marriage in Maryland. The Old Line State has three neighboring counties that don’t allow it, and I’ve found several recent media articles about people traveling to get married.
But Alabama isn’t the only refuge for nearby states. So, I don’t see the same hullabaloo and complaints about out-of-state marriages.
Our overview of first cousin marriage in the United States has a color-coded map that shows how the states differ.
Roman Catholic Marriages
If you want to celebrate your Alabama wedding in a Roman Catholic church, you will face separate challenges.
Historically, the Catholic Church hasn’t encouraged first cousin marriages. However, the church laws have been relaxed somewhat in recent years.
There is a process that first cousins need to go through with the hierarchy in order to get permission to marry in a church ceremony. This is known as a dispensation.
You can read a more detailed explanation here on how first cousins can have a Catholic wedding.
What about other cousins?
Second cousins (and further out) don’t need to get special permission for a Catholic Church marriage.
We suggest that you mention to your priest that you are second cousins before the service. This means he won’t get uneasy if he hears mention of “cousins” from other people. Otherwise, he might wonder if he should have seen that first-cousin dispensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alabama allow relatives to marry?
Alabama does not allow close relatives to marry.
First cousins, second cousins, and other more distant relatives are allowed to marry in the state.
Can you marry a sibling in Alabama?
Alabama does not allow siblings to marry. This is regardless of whether they are siblings through blood or through adoption.
Half-siblings (adopted or blood-related) are also not allowed to marry.
Why do people think that Alabama allows siblings to marry?
There are a lot of jokes and stereotypes that pretend that close family members are allowed to marry in Alabama. This simply is not true.
However, the state is characterized by many small towns some distance from each other. Before the ease and convenience of modern travel, there was a higher rate of marriage between first and second cousins.
This is the same as any other region of similar geography and population.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Delaware may have more current or accurate information.
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