Prohibited Marriages

What is a prohibited marriage in Illinois?

The laws on marriage in Illinois are simple and straightforward. Individuals 18 and over can marry without the consent of his or her parents. Those aged 16 to 18 must have both parents’ consent (unless a parent has died, or cannot be located). To marry, both individuals must appear before the county clerk in person, pay a fee, and complete and sign the application. The clerk will then issue a marriage certificate and license. The official who performs the marriage ceremony will return the completed certificate to the county clerk.

There are some prohibited marriages:

  1. If one or both parties were married, a marriage cannot be entered into before any earlier marriages have legally ended.
  2. Marriages between descendants and ancestors or sisters and brothers are prohibited, no matter if the relationship is by adoption, whole blood, or half blood.
  3. Marriages are prohibited between nieces and uncles or nephews and aunts whether the relationship is by whole or half blood.
  4. Marriage between first cousins is prohibited unless both parties are 50 or older; or if one of the individuals presents a licensed physician’s signed certificate stating that the person is sterile, irreversibly and permanently.
  5. Bigamy (married to two people) and polygamy (married to several people) are illegal in Illinois. People who are married to more than one person can be jailed in this state.
  6. Same sex marriages are prohibited by Illinois law.
  7. Marriage by proxy is prohibited. Historically, members of the armed forces could have a friend stand in for him or her during the ceremony and the marriage was considered valid. However, such marriages are no longer recognized by Illinois law.
  8. Some states recognize Common Law Marriages, when couples have lived together a specified number of years; the courts will considered it a valid marriage. However, this type of marriage has not been valid in Illinois since 1905. If a common law marriage was established in a state that recognizes them, Illinois courts might recognize it if the parties move to Illinois.

Children remain the lawful children of both individuals even if they were born or adopted into a prohibited marriage.