The requirements in relation to marriage for persons under the age of 18 vary according to each state. If you are a minor who is thinking of getting married you should check to find out what you need to do beforehand, the paperwork you need to bring with you and who needs to be with you at the ceremony. This is because consent is required - whether it’s from a parent, guardian or court order – but you should check the specific laws of your state and county in any event.
One requirement which is almost universal is that in order to be married without parental consent you have to be 18 years old or more. The one exception is in Nebraska, where you need to be 19 years old. Lastly, if you apply for a marriage license in Mississippi under the age of 21 your parents will be notified of this if they are not with you.
If you are under 18 years old, you will generally need either a court order or the consent of your parent or guardian. The means by which consent must be proven varies: some require one or more parents to be present at the marriage with identification unless the parent is deceased, overseas or otherwise unavailable, in which case proof of this is required. Some states may waive the need for parental consent if the girl is pregnant.
However, in Florida minors under 18 but over 16 can apply for a marriage license without their parents’ consent, but if under 16 the license can only be issued by a county judge – whether or not the parents consent. (Remember that applying for a marriage license is not the same as getting married.)
A considerable number of states do not allow persons under sixteen to get married, period. Examples are Montana, Vermont, Illinois, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas amongst others. However in New Hampshire, girls must be at least 13 and boys 14, in Alabama, North Carolina and New York the minimum age is 14, in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas it is 15, and in Mississippi it is 15 for girls and 17 for boys. In Nebraska and Oregon the minimum age for marriage is 17 years old. Until recently under the common law, girls as young as 12 years old were capable of marriage in Colorado but this has been overturned by statute.
Some states also require the parents of a minor to be residents of the state, e.g. Kentucky. If you are a minor who is planning to get married is always advisable to check whether you are allowed to marry at your age, and also whether the person you want to marry meets any minimum age requirement. If you are pregnant or have a child already, there may be waiver to parental consent.
Marriage is a very big step in a person’s life, no matter what age they are. If you are a minor intending to get married it is wise to speak to a trusted adult and discuss the reasons why you want to marry. If you are unsure about anything at all, speak to an attorney.