It is currently legal for first cousins to marry in New Mexico.
The state laws prohibit closer relationships such as siblings.
Couples must apply for a marriage license in person. The County Clerk 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 Mexico.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In New Mexico
All types of cousins can get married in New Mexico, including:
- first cousins (share common grandparents)
- half first cousins (first cousins through a half-sibling of your parent)
- first cousins once removed (children of your first cousins)
- second, third and fourth cousins (and further out)
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 Mexico. If you’re unsure about what this relationship means, check out our article that looks in-depth at what half-siblings mean.
What You Should Know About First Cousin Marriages
New Mexico requires that you apply for a marriage license.
This must be completed in the presence of an official at a County Clerk’s office. Some let you download the form in advance and fill in most of the details.
But be sure that you don’t sign it until you are in the presence of the County Clerk. The form must be signed under oath to be valid.
Are you a resident?
You don’t have to be a resident in New Mexico. But be aware that some other states in the U.S. don’t recognize your marriage if they prohibit first cousin unions.
You can also apply for your marriage license in any county, and it is valid across the state.
Does the New Mexico 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 online from Ontero County in 2022. It does not ask for this information.
Be prepared for the possibility that the County Clerk may ask you whether you are related. Don’t worry. Just explain that you are first cousins (or further out).
Who Can’t Get Married?
The New Mexico marriage laws have a list of relationships that are prohibited.
This is it:
All marriages between relations and children, including grandfathers and grandchildren of all degrees, between half brothers and sisters, as also of full blood; between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews.New Mexico laws on prohibited relationships
A “full blood” brother or sister means that you share both parents. Half blood means that you only share one parent.
Why first cousins are legal
You’ve probably noticed that first cousins aren’t included in prohibited relationships.
New Mexico 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!
History Of Cousin Marriages In New Mexico
Marriage between first cousins hasn’t always been legal here. It was prohibited between 1876 and 1880, when New Mexico was still a territory.
The restrictive laws were repealed after a short period. This was possibly due to pressure from families of Spanish descent. Cousin marriage was not unusual at that time.
When the territory joined the Union in 1912, the laws remained less restrictive to this day.
Do Cousins Travel To The State To Get Married?
You will sometimes hear griping from legislators in states that share borders with neighbors prohibiting cousin marriages.
They complain that hordes of out-of-state cousins descend upon their state in order to get legally married.
I don’t find any such concerns expressed in New Mexico. That may be because residents in neighboring states have plenty of options.
Our overview of first cousin marriage in the United States has a color-coded map which shows the different states pan out.
If you are thinking of traveling to get married, be sure to check the laws of the state you are resident within. Some do not recognize first cousin marriages conducted elsewhere.
Roman Catholic Marriages
If you want to celebrate your New Mexico wedding in a Roman Catholic church, you will face a separate hurdle.
Historically, the Catholic Church hasn’t been keen on 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.
Here’s a link to our detailed explanation of first cousin marriages in a Catholic church.
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 what second cousins are. The diagrams should make things clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does New Mexico allow relatives to marry?
New Mexico 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 Mexico?
New Mexico 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 Mexico?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in New Mexico.
Other cousin relationships, such as first and third cousins, are also allowed to marry in the state.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. The state 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.