It is currently legal for first cousins to marry in New Jersey.
The state laws prohibit closer relationships such as siblings.
Couples must apply for a marriage license. The form may ask if the couple are related. However, a first cousin relationship is not an impediment.
This article looks at what you need to know about first cousin marriages in New Jersey.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In New Jersey
All types of cousins can get married in Florida, including:
- first cousins once removed (children of your first cousins)
- second cousins explained (parents are first cousins)
- third cousins explained
- fourth cousins explained
If you’re not sure what the difference is between the various relationships, click on the links above.
It’s important to be sure that your partner is your cousin and not a half-sibling. Half siblings aren’t allowed to marry in New Jersey.
If you’re unsure about what this relationship means, we have it covered in our article that explains “half siblings”.
What You Should Know About First Cousin Marriage In New Jersey
New Jersey requires that you apply for a marriage license.
This must be completed in the presence of an official at a registrar’s office. You can download and fill in most of the details.
But don’t sign it until you are with the official who will ensure you are under oath.
Are you a resident?
You don’t have to be a resident in New Jersey. But be aware that some other states in the U.S. may not recognize your marriage if they prohibit first cousin unions.
If neither of the couple is a resident, you should apply for the license in the county where you will actually get married.
If either of you is a resident, you can apply in that county.
Does the New Jersey application form ask if you’re related?
Some states have a section in their forms where you must state a relationship e.g. first cousin.
We reviewed the application form available in 2022. It asks for this information.
Here’s a picture of the relevant section of the form. The question (number 11) asks if you are related by blood to the other party.
Don’t worry about this. Just specify that it’s a first cousin relationship.
Be prepared for the possibility that the clerk may ask you to further explain your relationship. You will just need to clarify whether which of your parents are siblings.
Who Can’t Get Married In New Jersey?
The New Jersey marriage laws have quite a long list of relationships that are prohibited.
This is for men:
A man shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sister or brother, or the daughter or son of his brother or sister, or the sister or brother of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.New Jersey marriage laws
This is for women (the relationships are the same).
A woman shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of her ancestors or descendants, or her sister or brother, or the daughter or son of her brother or sister, or the sister or brother of her father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.New Jersey marriage laws
Why first cousins are legal
If you read through that mouthful, you’ll have noticed that first cousins aren’t included in the list.
New Jersey laws don’t say explicitly that first cousins can marry. They simply don’t mention the relationship in their restrictions.
That means you are good to go!
Do Cousins Travel To New Jersey To Get Married?
There are other states that share borders with neighbors that prohibit cousin marriages. Occasionally, legislators or media express concern that hordes of out-of-state cousins are racing into the state to get legally married.
I don’t find any such concerns expressed in New Jersey. That may be because New York is an easier destination.
However, it may also be because a state like Delaware doesn’t recognize out-of-state first cousin marriages.
Roman Catholic Marriages
If you want to celebrate your New Jersey wedding in a Roman Catholic church, you will face a separate hurdle.
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 general article on first cousins (scroll down to the end).
What about second cousins?
Second cousins (and further out) don’t need to get special permission for a Catholic Church marriage.
We suggest that you explain the second cousin relationship to your priest before the service. This means there will be no confusion for the celebrant if there is mention of “cousins” during casual conversation later.
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 New Jersey allow relatives to marry?
New Jersey does not allow close relatives to marry.
More distant relatives such as first and second cousins are allowed to marry in the state.
Can you marry a sibling in New Jersey?
New Jersey 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 New Jersey?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in New Jersey.
Other cousin relationships, such as first and third cousins, are also allowed to marry in the state.