Incest is defined as a sexual relationship between two closely related family members. The relationship between the two people is so close that they are unable to legally get married. In the United States, incest laws prohibited intimate relationships between children and parents, siblings, and grandchildren and grandparents. Almost all states criminalize incest between adults. Some states also prohibit intimate relations between aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Additionally, state laws vary regarding half- and step-relatives and adopted relatives. States also have minimum age laws for marriage to help prevent child marriage, which could help prevent incestual relationships.
In the majority of states in the United States, incest is illegal. The punishments associated with engaging in an incestuous relationship vary by state. In many cases, incest is not revealed to outside parties, so the parties involved are not prosecuted. Except for those states mentioned below in this article, incest is illegal in all states.
In the states of New Jersey and Rhode Island, incest between adults is legal. However, neither state permits marriage. In New Jersey, each person involved in the relationship must be at least 18 years old. In Rhode Island, the age of consent is 16 years old. In Georgia, incest laws are limited to heterosexual intimate relationships. Intercourse between fathers and daughters and mothers and sons is illegal. This includes any half- and step-children and siblings, and extended family. In North Dakota, incest includes marriage and cohabitation between first cousins or anyone closer than first cousins, even if half-related. Second and third cousins are generally free to marry in most states, and first cousins are generally allowed to have relationships. In Ohio, incest is legally allowed provided that one party is not a parental figure to the other party.