Can you marry your adopted cousin? (Yes or No?)

In this article, we answer the following question: Can you marry your adopted cousin? We also talk about the four degrees of relationships, who cannot get legally (or ethically) married, and what do pure or mixed relationships mean. 

Can you marry your adopted cousin?

Legally, yes, you can marry your adopted cousin, since you two are not blood related. Morally and spiritually, there may be people against this marriage. 

Marriages between relatives occurred strongly during a period that goes more or less between 1760 and the entire 19th century, both in the countryside (mostly) and in the city (to a lesser degree). 

These links are called inbred, that is, they are made within the same group, in this case blood relatives. What is interesting is that this phenomenon that occurred in places with low population density in limited territories, was so usual that I do not know a person who does not have this type of ancestor union.

Both in the civil and ecclesiastical order the relationships between people are measured, although with different purposes and measurement systems.

Relationships of civil order are reflected, for example, when claiming an inheritance, but usually do not appear in a specific document, since in civil marriage this information (of relationships) is not recorded. However, in lawsuits of the colony or the republic, they appear in a tangential way when a relative of the parties declares and it is specifically noted that such testimony can be crossed by family closeness.

Other than this, people also question Can I marry my cousin, who is not adopted but blood related?

If not marriage, one worries whether they can date their cousin if not related by blood.

Who cannot get married?

There are four types of kinship impediments to getting married: that of consanguinity, of affinity (these two are the typical ones), that of public honesty (referring to invalid marriages or conspicuous concubinates that was considered as an illicit affinity relationship in the documents) and the legal one (that comes from the adoption), where it is forbidden to marry the adoptive parents or adoptive siblings.

The most common and that one always sees in these Marital Acts are the impediments due to kinship of consanguinity and affinity. 

Those of consanguinity are explained practically alone and it is related to the fact that the couple descended from one or more common ancestors. 

The second, of affinity, refers to the fact that one of the bride and groom had some legitimate or illegitimate relationship with a blood relative of the other groom, it appears written as “impediment of legal affinity” or “impediment of illicit affinity”. 

For example, if the groom wants to contract a second marriage with his first wife’s sister, they will have a lawful affinity relationship between the two, but if the groom had sexual relations with the bride’s sister (no marriage involved) they will have a illicit affinity kinship, which is the one of public honesty raised before. 

On the other hand, it was not and is not allowed to marry between descendants of the same straight line, that is, between parents and children or grandparents with grandchildren. Neither was it possible to marry by cross or collateral line between siblings or half siblings. 

The transversal means that it is “towards the side”, first cousins, second cousins, etc. In other words, it is descended from different lines (not straight) from the common ancestor or ancestors. This means that all the relationships that we find in the marriage acts are transversal or collateral.

The handwritten documents have different levels of information, some priests were super clear, since apart from including the family link with the technical language that is dealt with, they even made drawings of family trees, naming the ancestors until they reached the common ancestor.

Other priests explained in a little more words, for example, “because my grandfather John Doe was the first cousin of the mother of the future spouse“, but other priests simply put the technical language to describe the relationship and nothing else. What interests me is that you can interpret this last case, the difficult one.

The degree of relationships

Until 1983 the Church used the German system to calculate the degrees of kinship and after that year it began to use the Roman system, which is also the one used by most of the civil codes of the countries. 

In the German system, which is what matters to understand what appears in the Marriage Acts, the couple or the common person from whom the bride and groom leave with zero degrees, the children of that couple or person, who they are siblings (or half siblings) are relatives in the first degree (1st); the grandchildren of that couple or person are related to each other in second grade (2nd) and so on … until fourth grade.

What is important, in case you didn’t realize it, is that for canonical relationships there is no difference between brothers or half brothers, or for those who have one or two closest common ancestors. From the point of view of the degrees of kinship they are the same.

I pointed to the fourth grade because it is the maximum relationship with which the Church prevented marriage (great-great-grandparents in common) and therefore, it was necessary to dispense. More distant kinships, for example fifth grade, did not create impediments.

Some worry about how will they inform their family about their relationship with an adopted cousin.

Pure of mixed

Siblings, first cousins, second cousins, etc.- if you look at them they are at the same level of descent with respect to the common ancestors. So, if you find a third degree relationship, it means that the couple are second cousins. 

From the common couple (or the common person) from which they descend there are an equal number of generations up to them. These second cousins ​​would reach the common couple in three steps: their parents, their grandparents and the common great-grandparents; they are at the same level because in the same number of steps each of the bride and groom arrive. 

When this occurs, there is talk of a “pure” relationship and therefore it would be written like this: “the couple have a pure third degree blood relationship”. I mean, they’re second cousins.

But, what happens when the relationship between the couple does not occur at the same level? For example, when you want to marry the daughter of a person who is a second cousin to the groom. While the groom reaches the common ancestors in two steps: parents and grandparents, the bride arrives in three steps: parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. 

In the handwritten text of the marriage information it goes like this: “the couple have a blood relationship in the second mixed with the third degree”; It is called “mixed” when the bride and groom have different levels with respect to the common ancestor or ancestors and the degrees of one groom are named as the other.

A very important issue is that there may be more than one kinship impediment, whether it is more than one by blood relationship or more than one by affinity and each and every one of them is added, showing the individualized degrees of kinship.

To recap, the relationships can be”

1. Inbreeding or affinity (those of affinity can be licit or illicit), the most common.

2. They are always transversal or collateral (because you cannot marry straight-line relatives) and never transversal or collateral of the first degree in the case of inbreeding, but it could happen in the case of affinity (you can marry the brother of your first husband).

3. The German degree measurement system is used, where the first degree starts with the brothers.

4. Depending on the degree of relationship they can be pure or mixed.

Relationship test

Always remember that in most cases there are no indexes of these Marriage Information books, but that is very good because by slowly turning its pages you can find relatives of your ancestors who have these disabilities and therefore, they can also be used to build your family tree, in fact I highly recommend you go leaf by leaf (any source of genealogical research) or do genetic counseling. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Can you marry your adopted cousin? We also talked about the four degrees of relationships, who cannot get legally (or ethically) married, and what do pure or mixed relationships mean. 

Legally, yes, you can marry your adopted cousin, since you two are not blood related. Morally and spiritually, there may be people against this marriage. 

There are four types of kinship impediments to getting married: that of consanguinity, of affinity (these two are the typical ones), that of public honesty (referring to invalid marriages or conspicuous concubinates that was considered as an illicit affinity relationship in the documents) and the legal one (that comes from the adoption), where it is forbidden to marry the adoptive parents or adoptive siblings.

People also seek answers for questions like Can you marry your adopted child?

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FAQ on Can you marry your adopted cousin?

Is it OK to date your adopted cousin?

You can date your adopted cousin, if you are both adults and you understand the moral consequences of your relationship. Since you are not blood related, the law does not prohibit it. 

Can you marry your cousin in the UK in 2019?

In UK 2019 you can be your cousin. However, many people are against this, as Unions between family members carry a higher risk when developing hereditary diseases.

Is it wrong to marry your cousin?

Many consider that it is wrong to marry your cousin since it can lead to harmful genetic conditions. It would also probably make things really awkward at the family meetings. 

What does the Bible say about marrying your cousin?

The Bible does not say anything about marrying your cousin. However, it is mentioned that sexual relations with several other close relatives are prohibited. 

Is it illegal to sleep with your cousin?

In most countries, yes it is illegal to sleep with your cousin, parent, grandparent, sibling. 

What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues

Relationship counselling

  • If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.

LGBTQ issues

If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.

References

Legislation.gov.uk – Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986

Genetic-genealogy.co.uk   -FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE LAWS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

Familytreeforum.com -Forbidden Marriages

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