Is It Illegal To Marry Your Cousin In Alabama

Alabama prohibits marriage between first cousins, joining many other states that ban such unions. Here’s an overview of Alabama’s law.

Marriage Between Siblings is Banned

Under Alabama law, marriages and sexual relationships between siblings, both full and half, are considered incestuous and illegal. Attempting to marry or engaging in sexual activity with a sibling in Alabama constitutes a felony.

However, first cousins do not fall under the degrees of kinship prohibited from marrying. Siblings and first cousins are treated differently under Alabama law.

First Cousin Marriage is Prohibited

While siblings are expressly forbidden from marrying, first cousins also cannot legally wed in Alabama. The state prohibits marriage between biological first cousins.

This ban includes full cousins as well as “double” first cousins who share both sets of grandparents. Any attempt by first cousins to marry in Alabama is barred.

No Exceptions to the Prohibition

Alabama makes no exceptions allowing first cousins to marry under special circumstances, such as if they are past childbearing age or undergo genetic testing.

The prohibition is comprehensive – first cousins in Alabama cannot legally get married under any conditions. It is a Class C felony.

Contrast to Neighboring States

It’s important to note that laws concerning cousin marriage vary significantly across the 50 states. Many southern states prohibit the practice, but others are more permissive.

For instance, first cousin marriage is legal in neighboring states like Georgia and Tennessee. So Alabama law is on the stricter side of the cousin marriage spectrum regionally.

Rationale for Banning Cousin Marriage

Supporters of prohibitions argue they help avoid potential health risks to children such as birth defects and developmental disabilities. Critics argue personal freedom should prevail over unproven risks.

For now, Alabama lands firmly on the side of banning cousin marriages. Social disapproval also persists among many residents.


In summary, Alabama first cousins who wish to marry currently face firm legal barriers. Traveling to a different state may provide marriage opportunities not available in Alabama itself. But within state lines, cousins are prohibited from marrying as legislators continue debating the right policy balance

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