New In-Laws are 1st cousins

:eek: I just found out that my new In-Laws are 1st cousins, their Mother’s are sisters. Mother-in-law is an outwardly devout Catholic, Father-in-law is a total slacker. I checked our state law and it appears that you need to be 4th cousins or further away. From what I can figure of Cannon Law, Can. 1094, this is not a valid marriage. What do I do? What can I tactfully do? Is my spouse illegitimate? They have been ‘married’ for 40 years. Thank you.

The validity of their marriage does not affect yours. I would be worried about genetic defects though.

What do I do? What can I tactfully do?

Sometimes you can and should do nothing.

If you found out that your husband’s mother was on her sixth marriage and his father on his eighth, there would not be much you could do about it except respect them as your husband’s parents

Unless they someday want your future children to marry their other grandchildren I would let it go.

First, I’m not any kind of expert in Canon Law, but I’m pretty sure that the bishop can give special approval for a first cousin marriage. So, if that was done, there should be no problem.

Second, a surprisingly huge amount of the married world population is between first cousins. I’m pulling figures out of the air here, but I think it’s like 10% even. Although it does cause a slightly higher risk of genetic defects, the percentage higher is very small, at around only 3% greater than the general population.

Third, I believe that local laws also allow for exemptions, and recognize marriages between first cousins that were performed in states where that was legal.

Am I just being too nosey in their business? This does rather repulse me. When my one day kids have to do a family tree thing for school, how do I address this one? My husband is very tight lipped about his family stuff on this. I have been praying for release of this stress to me. Would me just asking the Mother-in-law if they got all their paperwork in order with the Church and State be able to let me let it go??

do you know for an absolute fact that there is a blood relationship and that no dispensation was received from the Church for their marriage? are you in possession of all the facts surrounding this marriage? There are several states where first cousins are allowed to marry, are you aquainted with the laws of their state that pertained at the time of their marriage? highly doubtful, so keep your mouth shut. If we have a regular habit of speculating about the moral lifes of our friends and relatives, that habit could be injurious to our own spiritual growth, so it should be stopped.

Relax! Think of how many of the first generations were a much closer relationship than cousins. Throughout history its been a very common thing. It is still common and even encouraged in parts of Asia and Africa. Its legal in half of the US also legal in Europe and Canada. The risk of genetic defects is incresed only very slightly.

Because there is a stigma, I would refrain from telling people about the relationship.

I’m not sure where you live, but that seems unlikely. In the US the most restrictive states are West Virginia and Wisconsin, which both allow 2nd cousins to marry. Something like 34 states allow marriage between first cousins, the rest (other than WV and WI, of course) allow marriages between first cousins once removed.

The rest of he word seems to care even less tha the US does.

Then you need to study more. Canon law goes by the ancient rules of relationships which are calculated differently than our modern English rendering. Canon law allows marriage between cousins, and even an uncle/niece or aunt/nephew with dispensation!

The problem here is yours, no one else’s. Get over your prejudice.

Leave it alone.

If they have been married for 40yrs, who are you to come along and interfere? Leave it alone none of your business.

Maybe they have a dispensation. You can even get a dispensation to marry an aunt or uncle or niece or nephew. Not like you automatically will, but it’s possible. It’s descendants, ascendants and siblings that you can never marry no matter what.

As for legitimacy, whatever offspring comes from a putative marriage (good faith on at least one side) is legitimate. See Canon 1137 and Canon 1061 para. 3.

Besides, why would you care if your spouse is legitimate anyway? Does illegitimacy make one a worse person or something?

The other posters here have given you pretty good advice. First cousins are allowed to marry, if a dispensation has been granted. It is also quite legal in many US jurisdictions, as well as foreign nations. I don’t understand where the stigma against cousin marriage comes from. Didn’t several Biblical figures marry cousins?

I think the best policy is to assume that their marriage is legal and valid. Unless you have evidence otherwise, just forget about it. And even if you do, it is not your duty to investigate the validity of each marriage that comes your way. Just be happy their marriage has lasted for as long as it has. That’s something to be glad for.

Maybe when you do a family tree for your future kids school you can say that your DH is adopted. :o

My brother is shacking up with this girl :rolleyes: and they have a child together. She has an older son by a guy and her sister has a son by the guys brother. So its like 2 brothers got together with 2 sisters and had kids. None of them ever married. I just think its wierd for those two boys. I guess they are called Double Cousins.

Edit - I should say rare instead of wierd. It is sort of cool. It would be cooler if there had been a double wedding before hand!

I don’t think you need to do anything. Concentrate more on learning to love your new in-laws and appreciate their 40 years of marriage and the son they raised who is now your husband.

There are many worse skeletons in family closets so be grateful!

Yep, you’re being nosey.:slight_smile:
It’s very likely it is perfectly legal (secular and canon) and none of your business.

You children will probably be fine and even if they aren’t, I wouldn’t be too quick to blame it on the grandparents.

**As for those stupid school family trees - I think they should be illegal. Okay, not illegal, but simply not done. It’s in bad taste to force a child to air their family history/lineage and none of the schools business. I hated them as a child and I wasn’t the only one who did either. I remember the adopted kids, the foster kids, the kids from messed up families who didn’t even know who a dad was, and the kids from estranged families who didn’t know what granddad’s name was or the sibling who was dead. I think it’s cruel of a teacher in today’s world to do this fully aware of how diverse and often twisted many children’s families are.:frowning: **

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