Marriage laws date back centuries. Most of our laws against marrying certain degrees of relatives, requiring a legal age for marriage, requiring consent of the parties, and setting out the rights and duties of spouses have origins in religious law and practice. Centuries ago responsibility for maintaining these laws passed to governments, and when the first Europeans settled North America those responsibilities passed to colonial governments.
It’s because of this history that state marriage age requirements and family law falls are governed by the states. For residents of our nation’s capital, D.C.’s own laws govern this area. Here’s a summary of the District’s marriage age requirements laws
D.C.’s Marriageable Age
Any adult can marry in D.C. so long as they meet the requirements set forth in the District of Columbia Code. These requirements focus on consent – an important requirement in marriage generally. D.C. law sets the age of legal consent for marriage at sixteen years of age, making that the minimum marriageable age in the district. Any minor under the age of eighteen requires the consent of a parent or guardian to marry, unless he or she has been previously married.
Marriages that are unlawful under the laws of the District of Columbia can be voided. This runs from the decree nullifying the marriage, not from the beginning of the marriage as is common in other states. Besides an underage party, illegal marriages occur when a party is unable to consent due to mental incapacity or when consent is obtained by force or fraud. These are both low standards and exist to protect against uncommon, but real, dangers.
The following table provides a summary of the District of Columbia’s marriage age requirements laws. You can find similar tables in the articles for each state.
||§ 46-403, 411
|Minimum Legal Age With Parental Consent
||Male: 16; Female: 16
|Minimum Legal Age Without Parental Consent
||Male 18: Female: 18
||Parental consent is not required for a previously married minor. Illegal marriages are void from the date of decree nullifying the marriage.
Related Resources for Marriage Age Requirements
Marriage is a major legal topic. From marriage laws and money and property considerations to prenuptial agreements and other family law issues, additional resources can be found on these pages. For specific questions, we recommend contacting a local family law attorney.