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Teen Marriage Laws

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What Is Teen Marriage?

Teen marriage refers to situations where a teenage couple seeks to get married. In most cases, the issue is whether or not one or both partners are of legal age, which in most states is 18 years old (also called the “age of majority”). There are various concerns and arguments regarding when a couple is considered old or mature enough for marriage, especially without parental consent, because the marriage allows for the emancipation of the minors who are getting married without them needing to meet any additional requirements.

A main concern is that a couple that is too young might have the legal capacity to form an agreement, since they might not be of legal age yet. For instance, most states do not allow minors to enter into legal contracts. This can cause various other issues for the married couple (for instance, purchasing property, etc.).

What Are Some General Guidelines Regarding Teen Marriage?

Every state has very different variations on teen marriage laws. However, there are a few guiding principles that apply to most states when it comes to teen marriage laws. These include:

  • Nearly all states require the couple to be 18 years old in order to get married without their parent’s permission; this might vary slightly by state.
  • Some states may waive the 18 year old requirement if pregnancy is a factor; also, waivers may apply if the couple already has a child together.
  • Many states also require court or judicial approval for marriage if one of the parties is 16 years old or younger.

However, as mentioned each state can vary their laws according to many factors, including: whether or not the consent of one or both sets of parents is required, or whether only parental or judicial consent is required. You may need to check with a lawyer if you have any questions about your specific state marriage laws.

Legal Issues to Consider

Fraudulent marriage or fraud in connection with marriage is a serious offense and can lead to serious legal consequences. For instance, if one party misrepresents their age at the time of marriage in order to deceive the other partner into marrying them, it could be sufficient grounds for an annulment of the marriage.

A common example of this is where one spouse later discovers that the other party lied about their age and was actually underage at the time of marriage. If this is the case, the court may allow for an annulment to occur (cancellation of the marriage as if it never existed).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Teen Marriage Laws?

Teen marriage laws can differ greatly depending on which state you live in. You may need to hire a family law attorney if you need help understanding how the marriage laws in your region work. Your attorney can help research the law and can also assist you if you need to file for a marriage license or certificate. Also, if you need to file a lawsuit or legal claim regarding a previous or existing marriage, your attorney can assist with those issues as well.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-08-2015 10:23 AM PST

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