It is currently illegal for first cousins to marry in Mississippi.
First cousins once removed and other more distant relationships are allowed.
Mississippi does not recognize first cousin marriages that are conducted in other states where the union is legal.
This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the Magnolia State.
What Do The Mississippi Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?
The state laws have a very lengthy list of prohibited relationships. It’s probably the longest list I’ve seen – they do like spelling things out!
This section is actually only part of the list:
The son shall not marry his grandmother, his mother, or his stepmother; the brother his sister; the father his daughter, or his legally adopted daughter, or his grand-daughter; the son shall not marry the daughter of his father begotten of his stepmother, or his aunt, being his father’s or mother’s sister, nor shall the children of brother or sister, or brothers and sisters intermarry being first cousins by blood.;Mississippi marriage laws
I’ve bolded the relevant piece at the end. I’m not sure why they need to repeat “brother or sister” with the plural, but it is what it is. First cousins are not allowed to intermarry.
You probably understand what first cousins are. If you’re not exactly clear, check out our article that explains first cousins.
Are there any exceptions to the laws?
Some other states generally don’t allow first cousin marriage but have some allowances based on age or other criteria.
In contrast, Mississippi has a blanket ban within the state. There are no special exceptions.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Mississippi
Relationships that are further out than first cousins are allowed.
For example, marriages between first cousins once removed are permitted.
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.
- first cousins once removed (children of your first cousins)
- second cousins explained (parents are first cousins)
- third cousins explained
- fourth cousins explained
What about half first cousins?
Despite the lengthy list of prohibited relationships, Mississippi has omitted mention of a particular class of relationship.
Other states have clauses about “whole blood” and “half blood”. In other words, full or half siblings.
What does half blood mean in relation to cousins? Well, if your cousin’s parent is a half sibling of your parent, then you are half first cousins.
If that seems confusing, then we have a diagram in this section that answers “what is a half cousin”.
Because these laws omit the relationship, does that mean that marriage is allowed? You should consult an attorney about this.
Does Mississippi Recognize First Cousin Marriages From Other States?
At the time of writing, the state does not recognize first cousin marriages conducted in other states.
This is the relevant section in the state laws:
Any attempt to evade Section 93-1-1 [laws on prohibited relationships] by marrying out of this state and returning to it shall be within the prohibitions of said section.Mississippi marriage laws
Does The Mississippi 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 marriage in Georgia.
We reviewed the application form for a marriage license from Warren 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?
Mississippi is bordered by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Two of these neighbor states allow first cousins to marry. Check out these articles:
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 Mississippi as a destination wedding spot?
Consider these other states as alternative options in the south!
Looking to relocate?
Some first cousins choose to relocate permanently to a 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.
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.
If you’re not sure about whether you are first or second cousins, check out our article that explains what second cousins are. It has diagrams that make it clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does Mississippi allow relatives to marry?
Mississippi 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 Mississippi?
Mississippi 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 Mississippi?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Mississippi.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Mississippi 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.