ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Does Illinois allow first cousins to legally marry? We know it may be a burning question for some readers, but the answer may surprise you.

According to Inside Edition, President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, were fifth cousins once removed, and Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin also married their first cousins.

The heart may want what it wants, as Emily Dickinson once said, but what if what the heart wants is marrying your cousin?

According to Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 5/212, marriage between first cousins is illegal, unless both parties are over 50 years old.

If the participants in the marriage are younger than 50 years of age, then at least one of the pair must present a certificate signed by a licensed physician that they are permanently and irreversibly sterile and cannot have children.

Marriages that are also illegal in Illinois include:

  • Marriages entered into prior to the dissolution of a previous marriage;
  • Marriage between an ancestor and a descendant or between siblings, even if the relationship is by adoption;
  • Marriage between an uncle and a niece, uncle and nephew, aunt and niece, or aunt and nephew.