It is currently legal for first cousins to marry in Alaska.
The state laws prohibit closer relationships such as siblings or half-siblings.
The application form to get married in Alaska asks you to declare that you are blood-related. However, this does not impede first cousins.
This article looks in depth at cousin marriages in Alaska. There are different types of first cousin relationships, so we’ll start with those.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Alaska
All types of cousins can get married in Alaska. If you’re not sure about specific relationships, click on these links for a detailed explanation:
- first cousins
- first cousins once removed
- half first cousins
- second cousins
- third cousins
- fourth cousins and further
It’s important to be sure that your partner is your cousin and not a half-sibling. Half siblings are not allowed to marry in Alaska.
If you’re not sure about the difference, check out our detailed explanation of half siblings.
What You Should Know About First Cousin Marriage In Alaska
Alaska requires that you apply for a marriage license to get married in the state.
You can download the form from the alaska.gov website.
Does the Alaska marriage form ask if you’re related?
We reviewed the Alaska application form in 2022.
The form has a section for both parties where they must state if they are blood-related.
Here’s a snapshot of the left half of the form (the other half is for Party B and has identical questions).
If you are first cousins, you should tick this box as you have a blood relationship.
If you want to learn more about this, check out this section of our separate article that explains why first cousins are blood-related.
However, don’t worry. Note that the next question is whether there is any legal reason why your marriage should not be solemnized.
By checking no to this question, you are confirming that your first cousin blood relationship does not fall within the illegal list.
What Do The Laws Say?
I’ll be the first to admit that the way the laws are worded is hard to understand.
I’ve quoted the relevant section below. The relevant bit is part 2. What the heck is the fourth degree of consanguinity?
I’m glad you asked. I’ll explain clearly in the next section.
Marriage is prohibited and void if performed when
(1) either party to the proposed marriage has a husband or wife living; or
(2) the parties to the proposed marriage are more closely related to each other than the fourth degree of consanguinity, whether of the whole or half blood, computed according to rules of the civil law.Alaska statutes on prohibited marriages
What Is The Fourth Degree Of Consanguinity?
This is simpler than it seems. The laws just use words that come from the earliest days of the Roman Catholic Church. So, let’s get to it.
“Consanguinity” means how related two people are by blood.
To calculate the degree, you count the relationships between the potential spouses and their common ancestor.
Taking first cousins as an example, the common ancestors of both are their grandparents.
There are two hops between you and your grandparents i.e. from you to your parent and from your parent to your grandparents.
The same two hops apply to your partner.
This means that first cousins are the fourth degree of consanguinity.
A parent and child are at the first degree of consanguinity. That’s because there’s one degree between child and parent, and zero degrees between parent and…parent.
Yeah, I had to think about why that worked too.
Siblings are two degrees of consanguinity. Each is one step away from their common ancestor, their parents.
An uncle and a niece are three degrees of consanguinity. Their common ancestors are the grandparents of the niece who are parents of the uncle.
That represents two plus one degree i.e. three degrees.
Hope that clears this consanguinity thing up!
Do People Travel To Alaska To Get Married?
Concerns about out-of-state travel have been raised in other places where cousin marriage is permitted.
The idea is that crowds of people rush in from neighboring states that don’t allow it. Our research has failed to find any evidence that this is presenting a problem anywhere.
But Alaskans can relax even more. After all, Alaska doesn’t have any American neighboring states.
Other Americans have plenty of other choices of states where they can marry.
Our overview of first cousin marriage in the United States has a color-coded map that shows where the different states stand.
Native Culture And Cousin Marriages
Tribal leader Mike Williams wrote a fascinating account of his life as a champion dog race musher. You can get it on Amazon (affiliate link).
Williams was from Akiak, a remote village with no easily navigable roads into it. Most of the small 350-strong population were of Yup’ik Eskimo heritage.
First cousin marriage was not welcomed by the community.
Williams recounts how one of his grandmothers fell in love with her first cousin. But the community culture wouldn’t allow them to marry in the village itself.
However, marriage wasn’t actually prohibited. Williams describes how there are “special rules”. First cousins must marry away from the community.
The elders simply made it difficult. That applies the brakes to impetuous youngsters (that’s my interpretation on this).
But William’s forebears were deeply committed to each other. They traveled to the Gulf of Alaska to wed.
Roman Catholic Marriages
If you want to celebrate your Alaska wedding in a Roman Catholic church, you will face separate challenges. There is a process you need to go through with the church hierarchy.
We explain in detail in our general article on Catholic Church marriages for first cousins.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alaska allow relatives to marry?
Alaska does not allow close relatives to marry. More distant relatives such as first and second cousins are allowed to marry in Alaska.
Can you marry a sibling in Alaska?
Alaska does not allow siblings to marry.
Half-siblings are also not allowed to marry.
Is it legal to marry your second cousin in Alaska ?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Alaska .
Other cousin relationships, such as first and third cousins, are also allowed to marry in the state.
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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Please check official sources.