Age Allowed to Get Married Without Parental Consent

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Teenagers will find it difficult to get married without parental consent.  This is because the law defines an “age of majority,” which allows a person to enter into a legally binding contract.  Marriage is a contract.  Before this age, the law considers a person too immature to be able to keep their promises. 

Most states require fiancées and fiancés to be 18 years old to get married without parental consent.  Nebraska sets the age at 19, and Mississippi at 21. 

States generally prohibit marriage of partners under the age of 16 (15-17), with or without parental consent.  However, many states let the judge allow a marriage between parties under the age of 16 if the woman is pregnant or already gave birth to a baby. 

It is important to note, however, that parental consent must generally comes first before courts grant permission to marry.  The law gives parents and legal guardians the ultimate responsibility to protect and raise a child until the age of majority.  Therefore, if parents do not wish the child to marry under 18, even if pregnant, there is not much a judge can do about it. 

It is important to distinguish between the age of majority for purposes of signing a marriage contract with the age of consent needed to engage in sexual relations.  Generally, the age of consent for sex is lower, around 16, than the age of majority, which is usually 18.  Conflictingly, even in those states where the age of consent for sex is 18, marriage under 18 will generally be allowed with parental consent. 

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Last Modified: 06-28-2013 02:52 PM PDT

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