Is It Legal To Marry Your Cousin In Jamaica

In Jamaica, marriage between first cousins is legal under civil law, though some limitations apply. Here is an overview of Jamaica’s laws concerning unions between biological first cousins.

Civil Law Allows Cousin Marriage

According to Jamaica’s Marriage Act, marriage is permitted between biological first cousins. There is no universal prohibition under Jamaican civil law against cousins marrying.

This legal allowance also extends to double first cousins, who share both sets of grandparents. Despite their closer degree of kinship, Jamaican civil law does not bar double first cousins from marrying either.

Some Limitations Exist

However, Jamaica’s Marriage Act does impose some limitations on cousin marriage:

  • If one spouse is under 18, the other must be 21 or older for the marriage to be approved. This aims to deter child marriages.
  • Marriage between adopted children and their adoptive parents/relatives is prohibited as incest. But biological cousins may marry.
  • Half-brothers/sisters cannot marry, but half-first cousins with only one shared grandparent can.

So some regulations exist to address ethical concerns but do not prohibit consensual adult first cousin marriage.

Cultural Views on Cousin Marriage

Despite being legally permitted, views on cousin marriage remain mixed across Jamaican society. Some segments accept it traditionally, while others have concerns around potential health effects or frown upon the practice.

Overall approval tends to be higher among rural, lower income Jamaicans compared to wealthier urban populations. Views diverge generationally as well.

Rationale Behind Jamaica’s Approach

By allowing but regulating cousin marriage, Jamaica aims to balance ethical worries like adoption/age gaps with an emphasis on personal choice, especially for lower income Jamaicans who often marry cousins due to limited social mobility.


In summary, Jamaican civil law permits first cousin marriage between consenting adults with some limitations. Societal acceptance fluctuates across communities and demographics. The law seeks a middle ground approach to addressing the practice.

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