Is It Legal to Marry Your First Cousin in Missouri?

Marriage between cousins is a controversial topic that has legal, social, and genetic implications. Different countries and states have different laws regarding cousin marriage, ranging from legal to prohibited. In this article, we will explore the legality of marrying your first cousin in Missouri, a state in the United States of America.

What is a first cousin?

A first cousin is a person who shares one pair of grandparents with you. For example, if your father’s brother has a child, that child is your first cousin. You and your first cousin have 12.5% of your DNA in common, which means you are more closely related than most people.

What is the law in Missouri?

According to Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 451.020, it is illegal to marry your first cousin in Missouri. The law states:

All marriages between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, between brothers and sisters of the one-half as well as of the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, and first cousins, are prohibited and declared absolutely void. This section shall apply to illegitimate as well as legitimate children and relatives.

The law also prohibits marriage between other close relatives, such as parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and siblings. The law does not make any exceptions for age, infertility, or consent.

What are the consequences of breaking the law?

If you marry your first cousin in Missouri, your marriage will be considered null and void, which means it will have no legal effect. You will not be able to enjoy the rights and benefits of marriage, such as inheritance, property, tax, health care, and immigration. You may also face criminal charges, such as incest, which is a felony in Missouri. The penalty for incest is imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

What are the alternatives?

If you want to marry your first cousin, you have a few options. One option is to move to another state or country where cousin marriage is legal. According to Wikipedia1, 19 states in the US allow first cousin marriage, such as California, New York, and Florida. However, you should be aware that some states may not recognize your marriage if it was performed in another state where it is illegal. For example, Arizona2 and Kentucky3 have laws that void out-of-state cousin marriages.

Another option is to seek legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in family law. A lawyer may be able to help you find a loophole or a workaround in the law, such as obtaining a judicial approval or a genetic counseling certificate. However, this option may be costly, risky, and time-consuming.

A third option is to reconsider your decision and find another partner who is not your first cousin. This option may be the easiest, safest, and most socially acceptable one. You may also avoid the potential health risks of having children with your first cousin, such as increased chances of birth defects and genetic disorders.


In conclusion, marrying your first cousin in Missouri is illegal and has serious legal and social consequences. You may want to explore other options, such as moving to another state or country, seeking legal advice, or finding another partner. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but you should be aware of the risks and challenges involved.

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