It is illegal for first cousins to marry in Arizona with some exceptions.
If the couple are both 65 or over, there is no impediment. If either is below 65 then they must prove that one of the couple is infertile.
More distant cousin relationships are allowed to marry.
This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the Grand Canyon State.
What Do The Arizona Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?
The Arizona marriage laws set out a list of prohibited relationships. We’ve bolded the relevant piece.
Marriage between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, between brothers and sisters of the one-half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between first cousins, is prohibited and void.Arizona marriage laws
However, the state has exceptions that allow some first cousins to marry. We’ll examine these in the next section.
Before we get there, let’s clarify relationships that are slightly more distant than first cousins.
First cousins once removed
The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed.
This is a more distant relationship than first cousin, which means it is a valid marriage in Arizona.
If you need a more detailed explanation, check out our article on first cousins once removed.
Exceptions To The Marriage Laws
Here is the clause that describes the exceptions.
first cousins may marry if both are sixty-five years of age or older or if one or both first cousins are under sixty-five years of age, upon approval of any superior court judge in the state if proof has been presented to the judge that one of the cousins is unable to reproduce.Arizona marriage laws
If you’re scratching your head over the ifs and ors, then this is what the laws mean.
If you are both aged sixty-five or older, then you can get married with no extra obstacles.
If either is under sixty-five, then you need proof that one member of the couple is infertile.
What’s behind these exceptions?
Other states have a moral objection to first cousin marriage, full stop.
Arizona is clearly basing its objections on the potential health risks to children. I won’t get into the pros and cons of this argument. But we do have some thoughts on how the exception is phrased.
The cut-off point of sixty-five seems odd when we consider the typical child-bearing age of women.
We hope that women who are post-menopause can simply present a note of this fact to the judge from their local doctor.
The burden of proof may more arduous for a couple when the woman is thirty and the man is sixty-five. They may need to foot the bill for a medical examination of the potential husband.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Arizona
Marriages between second cousins are allowed. Of course, more distant cousins are also permitted.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between the various relationships, the links below will give you diagrams and clear explanations.
Does The Arizona Marriage Application Form Ask If You’re Related?
Some U.S. states have a section in their marriage application forms where the couple must state whether they have a blood relationship.
You can see an example in our article on whether first cousins can marry in Texas.
We reviewed the application form for a marriage license from Mohave County in 2022. There is no such question present.
I point this out because I can see how people could get married without being aware of the impediment. However, when you sign the form you are affirming that there is no impediment to your marriage.
Do Nearby States Allow First Cousins To Marry?
Arizona is bordered by California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Of these states, both California and New Mexico allow first cousins to marry.
Hawaii and Alaska are other neighbors although they don’t share a land border. Both also allow cousins to marry.
This map gives you the layout of Arizona’s neighbors.
Quick links to articles about neighbor states
- marrying a first cousin in California
- marrying a first cousin in New Mexico
- marrying a first cousin in Hawaii
- marrying a first cousin in Alaska
Looking for a destination wedding spot?
Do you live in a state or country where first cousin marriage is legal and you simply wanted to visit Arizona for a ceremony and vacation?
Consider these other states as alternative options in the region!
Looking to relocate?
Some first cousin couples move lock, stock, and barrel to another state where their marriage will be legal.
Review your options and future plans carefully. You may wish to sit down with an attorney. Some states in the U.S. will not recognize legal marriages from other states.
Roman Catholic Marriages
Even if close cousins move to another state that allows their civil marriage, they will face separate hurdles if they want a wedding in a Roman Catholic church.
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 whether 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. This is because they are beyond the fourth degree of relationship.
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.
If you’re not sure about whether you are first or second cousins, check out our article that uses diagrams to explain how second cousins are related.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does Arizona allow relatives to marry?
Arizona does not allow close relatives to marry.
More distant relatives such as second cousins are allowed to marry in the state.
Can you marry a sibling in Arizona?
Arizona does not allow siblings to marry. Half-siblings are also not allowed to marry in the state.
Is it legal to marry your second cousin in Arizona?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Arizona.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Arizona may have more current or accurate information.
We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on other sites. Please check official sources.