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Can I Marry Without My Parents' Consent?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on November 09, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You may be able to marry without your parents' permission but that depends on: 1) how old you are, and 2) where you live. State marriage laws vary.

Sixteen is commonly an age that marriage is allowed without parental consent. But you really will have to look up the laws in your state to answer the question yourself. In addition to age, there are other factors that may influence your ability to marry very young and without parental permission in some states, such as pregnancy.

Exception to Sixteen as the Sweet Spot

The following are states that require married couples to be older than 16 if they are to tie the knot without parental permission. Seventeen-year-olds may marry in the following states:

  • Wyoming
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Nebraska
  • Illinois
  • Colorado

You must be 18 to consent to marriage in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Florida
  • Wisconsin
  • California
  • Utah
  • Tennessee
  • North Dakota
  • Virginia

Exceptional Circumstances

Many states make allowances for very young pregnant couples to marry with parental or judicial permission. Some may require proof from a doctor. Some will require both parents on both sides of the union to approve the early marriage.

All states regulate marriage age because people are generally not ready for forever when they are very young ... and sometimes not even once they have grown up. You may well be in love and that love may be true. But are you ready for a lifetime together?

Never Too Young for a Mistake

Entering into a marriage is serious. It is a legal contract to be bound to another person for life. That can sound sweet at sixteen and go sour pretty quick when it turns out you didn't quite understand the gravity of the commitment.

More than half of all American marriages end in divorce. Most of those marriages are between two adults who think they know what they want. But there is a gap between wanting and doing, theory and reality.

Parental consent laws do not just exist to annoy teenagers. They also help ensure you do not grow up too fast for your own good.

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