It is currently illegal for first cousins to marry in Kansas.
First cousins once removed and other more distant relationships are allowed.
The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that an out-of-state marriage between first cousins was valid when they returned to the state.
This article looks at what you need to know about cousin marriages in the state.
What Do The Kansas Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?
Kansas marriage laws have a fairly lengthy list of prohibited relationships:
All marriages between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of any degree, between brothers and sisters of the one half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, and first cousins.Kansas legislature website
First cousins are explicitly mentioned right at the end. This deems such marriages illegal in the state.
Note that they don’t name “first cousins once removed”. As this relationship isn’t mentioned, it is permitted.
Are there any exceptions?
Some other states generally don’t allow first cousin marriage but have some allowances based on age or other criteria.
In contrast, Kansas has a blanket ban within the state. There are no special exceptions.
When was the ban introduced?
At one stage in the history of Kansas, there was no explicit prohibition on first cousin marriage.
However, two years before the territory joined the Union they added cousins to the prohibited list. This was in 1859.
This means that when Kansas became a state in the Union in 1861, they were the first state to have the ban. But they certainly wouldn’t be the last!
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Kansas
Other types of cousins can get married in Kansas.
For example, marriages between first cousins once removed are permitted. The children of your first cousins are your first cousins once removed.
If you’re not sure what the different types of relationships mean, check out the links below to articles.
- explanation of first cousins once removed
- explanation of second cousins
- explanation of third cousins
- explanation of fourth cousins
“First cousins once removed” in Kansas laws
You may be thinking that the legislators simply couldn’t be bothered listing the different types of first cousins. Are we sure that they didn’t mean to include the “once removed” type?
We had a search around the documents related to other areas of Kansas government and administration.
One example is from the state’s eligibility regulations for who is a caretaker. There is a very long list of relationships that ends with:
“…first cousin, great-great-great grandparent, great-great uncle or aunt, or a first cousin once removed.”Caretaker guidelines
I mention this just to note that the legislators don’t just forget that “first removed” exists.
Does The Kansas 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 first cousin marriages in Georgia.
We reviewed the online form for a Kansas marriage license in 2022. There is no such question present.
Does Kansas Recognize First Cousin Marriages From Other States?
A case heard by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1981 established that the state must recognize first cousin marriages conducted legally in other states.
The case involved two first cousins who got married legally in Colorado and then resided in Kansas. When the husband died, the wife filed for half his estate.
The Supreme Court had to decide whether she had been legally married in the eyes of Kansas law.
This was their opinion:
“Although our statutes prohibit first cousin marriages and impose criminal penalties where such marriages are contracted in Kansas, we cannot find that a first cousin marriage validly contracted elsewhere is odious to the public policy of this state.“Supreme Court ruling
Basically, they’re saying that while Kansas doesn’t approve of this marriage, sensitive noses will be held if the marriage is legal elsewhere.
Kansas doesn’t have the only Supreme Court to have made this kind of ruling. Check out our article on first cousin marriages in Arkansas to see a case with a similar ruling.
Do Nearby States Allow First Cousins To Marry?
Kansas is bordered by Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The Centennial State is the only one that allows first cousins to marry.
You can check out our article on first cousin marriage in Colorado.
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 Kansas as a destination wedding spot?
Consider extending your vacation into Colorado!
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 to consider all the implications.
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.
We explain in detail in our in-depth account of the first cousin relationship (scroll down to the bottom).
What about second cousins?
Second cousins (and further out) don’t need to get special permission for a Catholic Church marriage.
If you’re not sure about whether you are first or second cousins, check out our article that explains second cousin relationships. The simple diagrams should make it easy to understand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does Kansas allow relatives to marry?
Kansas 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 Kansas?
Kansas 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 Kansas?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Kansas.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Kansas 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.