Is Dating Your Cousin Illegal in Mississippi? Here’s What the Law Says

Love can blossom in unexpected places, and sometimes, that unexpected place can be close to home – literally. Cousin dating, the romantic involvement between first cousins, is a topic that sparks curiosity and raises questions. Legal boundaries surrounding this practice vary significantly across the United States. So, if you find yourself drawn to a cousin in Mississippi, you might be wondering: is dating your cousin even legal in the Magnolia State?

Laws Regarding Cousin Dating in the United States

The legality of cousin dating in the US is a state-by-state issue. There’s no federal law prohibiting it. Some states, like Utah and Colorado, allow first cousins to marry without any restrictions. On the other hand, some states, like Alabama and Arkansas, have laws that explicitly forbid marriage between first cousins.

The reasoning behind these legal variations is complex. Some states prioritize individual liberty and the right to marry whomever one chooses, as long as both parties are consenting adults. Others prioritize public health concerns, citing the increased risk of genetic disorders in children born from close-kin relationships.

Mississippi Law on Cousin Dating

Now, let’s address the question at hand: is dating a cousin legal in Mississippi? The answer is clear: yes, dating a first cousin is legal in Mississippi. There are no state laws or statutes that prohibit romantic relationships between first cousins.

For legal reference, you can consult Title 93, Chapter 1 of the Mississippi Code which lays out the regulations for marriage licenses. There, you’ll find no restrictions based on familial relationships beyond close relatives in the direct ascending or descending line (parents, grandparents, children, etc.) and siblings.

It’s important to note that this legal stance applies solely to dating. Mississippi, like most other states, upholds the same public health concerns regarding marriage between close relatives. There are currently no laws permitting marriage between first cousins in Mississippi.

Potential Concerns Regarding Cousin Dating

While dating a cousin might be legal in Mississippi, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential health risks associated with offspring from such relationships. Children born to first-cousin couples have a slightly higher chance of inheriting certain genetic disorders. This is because they share a larger portion of their genes compared to couples with no familial connection.

Studies published in reputable medical journals like the American Journal of Human Genetics have shown that children of first-cousin marriages have a two to three percent increased risk of developing recessive genetic conditions. While this might seem like a small number, it’s important to consider the specific genetic makeup of the couple and any known family history of genetic disorders.

However, it’s important to remember that these are just statistical possibilities. Many couples who are first cousins choose to have children and raise healthy families. Consulting with a genetic counselor before starting a family can be a wise decision for any couple, but especially for those with a close familial relationship.

Cultural and Religious Aspects of Cousin Dating

Cultural and religious backgrounds can also influence views on cousin dating. In some cultures, particularly those with smaller, close-knit communities, cousin marriages have historically been a common practice. This might be due to factors like limited marriage prospects within the community or social norms that encourage such unions.

On the other hand, some religions explicitly prohibit marriage between close relatives, including first cousins. This often stems from concerns about maintaining genetic diversity within the faith community and upholding moral codes of family structure.

It’s important to remember that these are just general examples, and specific cultural and religious views on cousin dating can vary widely. Open communication and navigating these aspects with your partner, especially if you come from different backgrounds, is crucial for a healthy relationship.

Legal Considerations for Marriage vs. Dating (Mississippi)

As previously mentioned, Mississippi law differentiates between dating and marriage when it comes to cousins. While dating is legal, marriage between first cousins remains prohibited.

The legal requirements for obtaining a marriage license in Mississippi are outlined in Title 93, Chapter 3 of the Mississippi Code. These requirements include:

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old (with parental consent for those under 21).
  • Both parties must be mentally competent to consent to marriage.
  • There cannot be any existing marriages for either party.
  • The couple cannot be closely related in the direct ascending or descending line (parents, grandparents, children, etc.) or siblings.

The absence of “first cousins” on this list signifies their legal ability to date in Mississippi. However, if you and your cousin ever decide to consider marriage, you would need to relocate to a state that allows such unions or explore alternative legal options, such as adoption.


Dating a cousin in Mississippi is perfectly legal. There are no state laws prohibiting such relationships. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential health concerns associated with children born from close-kin relationships and to consult with a genetic counselor if considering family planning.

Cultural and religious backgrounds can also play a role in shaping views on cousin dating. Open communication and navigating these aspects with your partner are essential for a healthy relationship. Finally, remember that Mississippi law allows dating but prohibits marriage between first cousins.

This blog post serves as a starting point for understanding the legal and social landscape surrounding cousin dating in Mississippi. If you’re considering such a relationship, it’s highly recommended to conduct further research, consult with legal and medical professionals if needed, and prioritize open communication with your partner throughout your journey.

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MBS Staff
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