It is currently illegal for first cousins to marry in Nebraska.
First cousins once removed and other more distant relationships are allowed.
Nebraska has traditionally recognized first cousin marriages conducted in other states where the union is legal.
This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the Cornhusker State.
What Do The Nebraska Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?
Nebraska has a fairly short list of prohibited relationships when compared to some other states I’ve seen.
This is the list:
Marriages are void…when the parties are related to each other as parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, brother and sister of half as well as whole blood, first cousins when of whole blood, uncle and niece, and aunt and nephew.Nebraska marriage laws
I’ve bolded the relevant piece.
Let’s quickly explain the bit about “when of whole blood”.
When two siblings share the same parents, they are whole blood relatives i.e. “full siblings”. Their children are cousins of whole blood.
When the siblings only share one parent, this is a half blood relationship. Their children are cousins of half blood.
If that seems confusing, then we have a diagram in this section that answers “what is a half cousin”.
Because the Nebraska laws stipulate cousins of whole blood, that means that half first cousins are indeed allow marry.
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, Nebraska has a blanket ban within the state. There are no special exceptions.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Nebraska
Relationships that are further out than first cousins are allowed.
We’ve already mentioned half first cousins. 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)
- what are second cousins? (parents are first cousins)
- what are third cousins?
- what are fourth cousins?
Does Nebraska Recognize First Cousin Marriages From Other States?
We can go back as far as 1910 to see an example of a first cousin marriage outside the state being recognized by the courts of Nebraska.
Two Nebraska first cousins traveled to Iowa to get married and returned to reside in the Cornhusker State. The Nebraska Supreme Court decided that the marriage was valid because it was legally performend in Iowa.
This also applies to marriages conducted in other countries. This is what the laws say:
All marriages contracted without this state, which would be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, shall be valid in all courts and places in this state.Nebraska marriage laws
Does The Nebraska 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 Alaska.
We reviewed the application form for a marriage license from Lancaster 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?
Nebraska is bordered by Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming. The Centennial State is the only one that allows first cousins to marry.
You can check out our article on first cousins marrying 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 Nebraska as a destination wedding spot?
Consider Colorado as an alternative option for your wedding ceremony!
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 the second cousin relationship. It has diagrams that make it clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does Nebraska allow relatives to marry?
Nebraska 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 Nebraska?
Nebraska 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 Nebraska?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Nebraska.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Nebraska 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.