This is not an episode of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” This is not a list of countries in the Middle East. This is a list of places where a child can legally marry in the United States. And yes, this is 2018.
Incredibly enough, the list includes all 50 states, but some states have tougher laws when it comes to child marriage, like requiring the person to be at least 17 years old or have parental consent. Some of them, though, don’t even have a minimum age.
States With No Minimum Age
A child of any age can legally marry anyone the wish –or are forced– to in Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
Thankfully, common law protects girls under 12 and boys under 14 from the situation –a good thing, considering kids that age are barely capable of deciding on an elective at school, let alone to whom they want to be married.
Legal loopholes, though, made it possible for three 10-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy to get married in Tennessee in 2001. You weren’t expecting that, huh? I know I was expecting that year to be back in the 1950s at least. But nope! Tennessee allowed 10-year-old girls to marry IN THIS CENTURY.
States With No Minimum Age That Require Parental And/or Judicial Consent
States including Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia require either parental consent or judicial consent —mostly depending on the age of the child.
Some states include other restrictions. For example, in New Jersey, a 16-year-old can legally get married if she’s pregnant and has parental consent. The change came after in 2017 a proposed bill was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie, who argued that “an exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vigorously defends child marriage, vetos ban citing "religious customs." https://t.co/Omzzuqm6HM
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) May 11, 2017
And that’s how New Jersey refused to become the first state to ban child marriage in the United States.
States That Allow The Marriage Of Children 16 And Younger
Some states do have a minimum age:
- As young as 13 for girls and 14 for boys in New Hampshire with parental and judicial consent;
- 14 for Alaska and North Carolina with no parental/judicial consent;
- 14 for North Dakota, as long as they have parental consent;
- 15 for Kansas and Maryland with no parental/judicial consent;
- 15 for Hawaii, Indiana (as long as the girl is pregnant), and Utah with parental and/or judicial consent;
- 16 for Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin;
- 16 for Texas, as long as the minor is emancipated; and
- 16 for Connecticut and Virgina, with parental and/or judicial consent.
States That Allow The Marriage Of 17 Year Olds
Only Nebraska allows the marriage of 17 year olds without the need of parental or judicial consent. Florida, Kentucky, New York, and Oregon require parental and/or judicial consent.