Can First Cousins Marry In Ohio? (Explained)

It is currently illegal for first cousins to marry in Ohio. First cousins once removed are also not allowed to marry.

However, second cousins and more distant relationships are allowed.

Ohio does not recognize first cousin marriages from outside the state.

This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the Buckeye State.

What Do The Ohio Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?

The Ohio marriage laws have a short clause about marriage between cousins.

Here is the relevant section:

…only male persons of the age of eighteen years, and only female persons of the age of eighteen years, not nearer of kin than second cousins, and not having a husband or wife living, may be joined in marriage.

Ohio marriage laws

First cousins are closer (nearer of kin) than second cousins. This wording ensures that first-cousin marriages are not allowed in the state.

What about first cousins once removed?

Some other states just mention first cousins, so it’s not immediately clear if that covers a once-removed relationship.

But Ohio is clearer, as long as you understand what relationships are closer (nearer of kin) than second cousin. Let’s spell that out.

The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed. This is a closer relationship than second cousin.

We’ve got some easy-to-understand diagrams in our article that explains first cousin once removed.

Are there any exceptions to the laws?

Some other states generally don’t allow first cousin marriage but have some allowances based on child-bearing capacity or other criteria.

In contrast, Ohio has a blanket ban within the state. There are no special exceptions.

Marrying in Ohio

Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Ohio

Marriages between second cousins are allowed.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.

Does Ohio Recognize First Cousin Marriages From Other States?

Ohio does not recognize first cousin marrages that were legally conducted in other states.

This doesn’t just apply to first cousins. It also applies to other types of prohibited marriages within the state.

They made that very clear in recent changes to the law to explicitly cover same-sex marrages.

Does The Ohio 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 North Dakota.

We reviewed the application form for a marriage license from Franklin 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?

Ohio is bordered by Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. None of these states allow first cousins to marry.

The nearest alternatives are probably Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Of course, these are in different directions as the map below will show you.

Check out these articles for more details:

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 Ohio as a destination wedding spot?

Consider these other states as alternative options in the region! There are many lovely wedding venues in all three states.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some quick answers to common questions.

Does Ohio allow relatives to marry?

Ohio 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 Ohio?

Ohio 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 Ohio?

Marriage between second cousins is legal in Ohio.


The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Ohio 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.

Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

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