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The Act also states the minimum age for marriage is 18, though a judge may allow one partner to be 16 or older due to "exceptional circumstances".

Ms Schahinger said it was not unusual for removed cousins to learn of their common genetic link during the marriage process.

Although it may not be palatable for some, did you know it is legal to marry your first cousin in many states in Australia?

"According to the Marriage Act of 1961 [cousins] can marry," Genealogy SA's Beryl Schahinger told ABC Radio Adelaide's Afternoons program.

Most people just aren’t able to track their extended family that far out.I can't count the times when I have been asked to explain how two people are related, with the only information to go on is something akin to "my great-grandmother's uncle's grandson".Clearly, in this scenario, the great grandmother is not the common ancestor!Although common in centuries gone by, inter-family marriage creates enormous genetic stress, Professor David Thorburn of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute said."There is an increased risk of having what is called recessive diseases," Professor Thorburn said."First cousins share about one-eighth of that variable part of the genetic material."Professor Thorburn said this meant married relatives had a slightly lifted risk of having a child with a congenital or inherited disorder.Around one-quarter of the variable material is shared between uncles, aunties, nieces and nephews."All of us are at around a 3 per cent risk of having a child with congenital anomaly; the risk is roughly double for children of first cousins," the professor said.

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