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Lisa Kamenski wrote:

Hi, guys —

I live in Ohio where first cousin marriages are not allowed in the state.

If my cousin received an annulment and we are married, say in a state where it is allowed, in a civil marriage:

  • Could we somehow, somewhere get a dispensation to marry in a Catholic Church, or
  • Get it somehow blessed so we could receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession in the Catholic Church.

I don't believe the Bishop would give it to us in Ohio because of the 4th degree of consanguinity plus the state of Ohio doesn't allow cousin marriages.

Thanks more or less!


  { Is there a state where we could we get a dispensation to marry or have our marriage blessed? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Lisa —

I checked with Canon lawyers in Ohio and they tell me that the priests there would not celebrate a marriage that was not legal in the State.

This makes sense to me however, in my State, they are legal so a priest here could do that marriage with a dispensation from the bishop.

My advice is get married in state where it is legal because, from the Church's perspective, a dispensation can be given.

Fr. Jonathan

Lisa replied:

Fr. Jonathan,

Thanks for your reply!

I have one more question for you concerning first-cousin marriages. You said they are legal in your state.

  • Could we marry there and get a dispensation from a bishop to marry in the Catholic Church there although we reside in Ohio?

In other words, we wouldn't need to be residents of your state to get the dispensation.

  • Also, what's the chance of getting one since cousin marriages are legal there?



Fr. Jonathan replied:


Couples get married in other States all the time so civilly, that should not be a problem, but I am not a civil lawyer so get help with that from someone competent.

The Dispensation for consanguinity (first cousins=fourth degree of the collateral line) needs to come from the bishop where you live so you still go to your local priest who will apply for that dispensation from your bishop. Since it will be legal they should give it.

If, for some reason they do not, the bishop of the diocese where you are actually getting married can give it if you are actually present in the diocese. See Canon 1078.


Fr. Jonathan

Lisa replied:

Thank-you once again for your reply to our situation.

I have one more question on this issue. My cousin is living in Sweden at this time. She will be here for a travel permit no longer than six months.

  • Is it possible to get the dispensation say in your state or another that permits such marriages in that period of time?

She would need to get it done before she returns unless we got an extension.

  • Does the Catholic Church require a 6-month waiting period to be married?

She is divorced with an annulment pending.

  • Since we would live in Ohio, could we get the dispensation, say in Massachusetts, and marry there in this time frame?

A clarification would be much appreciated on this issue.

Thank-you very much.


Fr. Jonathan replied:


If she is divorced with an annulment pending then you have to wait for that before you can set any of this in motion.

The six month rule is not a canonical rule but local law. The priest can do away with it for a pastoral reason; however, no priest is going to want to rush in to a first cousin marriage, so it is quite possible that a priest will cite this with good reason.

This marriage seems to have many red flags:

  • first cousins
  • long distance relationship
  • his previous marriage, and
  • the rush implied in your questions

Slow down and do things right. (Marriage Prep) Marriage preparation is not a series of hurdles to get over in order to accomplish a goal.

Fr. Jonathan

Lisa replied:

Thanks for all your help, Fr. Jonathan!


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