It has been illegal since 2005 for first cousins to marry in Texas.
The state also does not allow marriage between half first cousins. However, first cousins once removed are permitted.
Second cousins and other more distant relationships are also allowed.
This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the Lone Star State. If you’re not familiar with half first cousins (or even first cousins once removed), we’ll explain them in full.
What Do The Texas Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?
The Texas marriage laws have a fairly lengthy list of prohibited relationships.
We’ve bolded the relevant part, which comes at the end:
an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption; a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; a parent’s brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; a current or former stepchild or stepparent; or
a son or daughter of a parent’s brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;Atacosa County marriage license form
First cousins are not allowed
The child of a parent’s brother or sister is your first cousin. This wording ensures that first-cousin marriages are not allowed in the state.
Some states allow such marriages if the relationship is through adoption. Texas does not.
But what does “half blood” mean?
Half blood and half first cousins
“Half blood” is a rather archaic term in these modern times. Let’s break it down.
When two siblings share the same parents, they are whole blood relatives. We would call them full siblings in normal conversation.
Their children are first cousins of the whole blood.
When the siblings only share one parent, we call them half-siblings. In more archaic terms, this is known as a half blood relationship.
Their children are first cousins of the half blood. We also call them half first cousins. This relationship is not allowed to marry under the Texas laws.
Basically, if your cousin’s parent is a half sibling of your parent, then you are half first cousins.
If that seems confusing, then it’s much easier to understand with a picture. We’ve got a diagram of the half cousin relationship here.
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, Texas has a blanket ban within the state. There are no special exceptions.
When was this prohibition introduced?
Up until relatively recent times, Texas never had a prohibition on first cousin marriage. However, the legislature introduced the change in 2005.
First cousin marriages that took place in the state before that date continued to be recognized. But new marriages were prohibited from that point onward.
Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Texas
The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed.
This is a more distant relationship than first cousin, which means it is a valid marriage in Texas.
Marriages between second cousins and more distant cousins are of course permitted.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between the various relationships, the links below will give you diagrams and clear explanations.
- what are first cousins once removed?
- what are second cousins?
- what are third cousins?
- what are fourth cousins?
Does The Texas Marriage Application Form Ask If You’re Related?
We reviewed the application form for a marriage license from Atascosa County in 2022.
The form has a true/false section that requires you to confirm whether you fall into any of the listed relationships.
Unlike some other states, you don’t need to answer True with this format if you are related as second cousins.
However, the marriage clerk may ask you if you are related in any way when you submit your marriage license application.
Does Texas Recognize Cousin Marriages From Outside The State?
Some states ban cousin marriages but have no problem recognizing them if they were conducted legally elsewhere.
Texas does not appear to be one of those states! This came up in an immigration case in 2012.
Two first cousins had married in India, where this is normal occurrence. They wanted to settle in Texas, but the U.S. immigration officials required them to show that Texas would recognize their marriage.
However, the Texas Attorney General refused to provide support.
Do Nearby States Allow First Cousins To Marry?
Texas is bordered by Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Only the Cactus State allows first cousins to marry.
You can check out our article on first cousin marriage in New Mexico.
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 Texas as a destination wedding spot?
Consider New Mexico as as alternative option in the region! It also has beautiful wedding venues.
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 been keen on marriages between first cousins. However, the church laws have been more relaxed 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 ceremony.
What does the church say 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to common questions.
Does Texas allow relatives to marry?
Texas 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 Texas?
Texas 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 Texas?
Marriage between second cousins is legal in Texas.
The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Texas 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.