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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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Is sex with a first cousin considered incest? Is it legal in

Customer Question

Is sex with a first cousin considered incest? Is it legal in the U.S. or can you marry your 1st cousin?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

This answer differs based on the state that you are in. Some states permit marriage between first cousins, some expressly bar it as being too close in 'consanguinity' (too close in blood). If you can tell me where you are located, or where you seek to live, I can then give you a more specific response. Please advise.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We live in California. My husband of 23 yrs has been having an affair with his 1st cousin. They want to get married. He says it is not incest. I believe that it is. I'm filing for child custody and wonder if this could be an important bit of information to the judge.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your patience.

There are two laws in California that speak to incest. First, Family Code section 2200 specifically defines incest as this:

2200. Marriages between parents and children, ancestors and descendants of every degree, and between siblings of the half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles or aunts and nieces or nephews, are incestuous, and void from the beginning, whether the relationship is legitimate or illegitimate.

As you can see cousins, whether first or otherwise, are not listed as being considered to be close enough to be illegal.

The second law is CAL. PEN CODE § 285 which states that "Persons being within the degrees of consanguinity within which marriages are declared by law to be incestuous and void, who intermarry with each other, or who being 14 years of age or older, commit fornication or adultery with each other, are punishable by imprisonment in the state prison. " But since a first cousin is not listed as a forbidden status, this law does not come into play.

Sincerely,

Dimitry, Esq.

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