How Old Do You Have to Be to Get Married?

How old do you have to be to get married?

When I was growing up in the 80s, there was a defined legal minimum age required before a couple could be legally married. I remember this because my uncle was in a long relationship with a woman and I remember him talking about wanting to be married and that since they were both over the age of 16. That seemed very old to me then — I was around 8– but come to find out that old law has changed dramatically.

Depending on where you live, the legal age of consent (the age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity) and the minimum age required for marriage are different. In almost every state, the legal age of consent is actually lower than the legal age required to be married. For example, in New Mexico the legal age of consent is 16 but the minimum age for marriage is 18. Another extreme example of a great difference between age of consent and marriage age is Mississippi, where the age of consent is 16 but both members of a couple must be 21 years old to marry.

Married

Pregnancy and Marriage

In every state in America, a pregnancy can be grounds for marriage as long as the couple gets court approval–this is handy because court approval requires a medical test to prove a woman is pregnant. This little clause seems antiquated–I know plenty of unwed couples doing a good job of raising a baby together, but for some reason we here in America want to see all people who have babies together become married.

State-by-State Marriage Laws

Alabama

The age is 18 unless the following applies — if either person is under 18, they will need a certified copy of both party’s birth certificates. Both parents must be present and carrying identification. If one or both parents are deceased, proper evidence of such must be provided. Individuals under the age of 14 may not marry under any circumstance.

Alaska

The age is 18 unless the following applies — if either person is under 18, they will need a certified copy of both party’s birth certificates. Both parents must be present and carrying identification.

Arizona

The age is 18, however you can marry at age 16 is you have the notarized consent of your parents or legal guardian. If you are under 16, you must have the notarized consent of your parents or legal guardian as well as a court order.

Arkansas

The age is 18, however those under 18 can be married if both sets of paretns consent.

California

The age is 18, but if either the bride or groom is under 18, at least one of the minor’s parents must appear with the couple. Certified copies of birth certificates are required. The couple must also schedule an appointment with a counselor and then appear before a superior court judge for approval

Colorado

You can be married at 16, but you will need the written consent of both parents or simply seek judicial approval, usually granted for pregnancy.

Connecticut

The legal age is 16 with written parental consent, but if either member of the couple is under the age of sixteen, they can still be married if they have the written consent of the judge for the district where the minor resides. Written parental consent is needed if under 18 years of age.

Delaware

The age of marriage is 18, but signed parental consent forms will allow you to marry between the age of 16 and 18.

Florida

The age of marriage with no restriction is 18, however If a person is between the age of 16 and 18, a marriage license can be obtained with parental consent. Interestingly enough, all you have to do to get a marriage license when pregnant (at any age) is to swear that they are pregnant before a judge and produce a written statement from a doctor.

Georgia

If you are between the ages of 16 and 18, you can apply for a marriage license if you go to the court with both parents who have provided written consent. If the bride is pregnant, no parental consent is required if you submit a statement from a licensed physician certifying the pregnancy.

Hawaii

The age is 18 unless the following applies — if either person is under 18, they will need a certified copy of both party’s birth certificates. Both parents must be present and carrying identification.

Idaho

The age is 18 unless the following applies — if either person is under 18, they will need a certified copy of both party’s birth certificates. Both parents must be present and carrying identification. You must be accompanied by one of your parents or your legal guardian and have written parental consent on the Affidavit of Consent to Marriage of Minor. If you are under 16 years of age, you will also need a court order.

Illinois

If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you will have to provide a copy of your birth certificate along with some other sort of identification showing your date of birth. You will also need to have the sworn consent from each parent, each legal guardian or a judge – in person – before the county clerk at the time of application. If your parent is deceased, you will need to show a death certificate or proof of guardianship, or a court order waiving consent. A legal guardian will also need to show a certified copy of the guardianship papers. If you are under 16 years of age, you cannot get married.

Indiana

A certified copy of your birth certificate is required. If you are 17 years old you must apply for the license with both parents (or the person with legal custody). They will need to sign the consent portion of the application. If you are 16 or 15 years old, you must petition the Circuit Court via a “Permission to Marry” form.

Iowa

Under 18 applicants (16 or 17 years of age) need to have parental consent.

Kansas

The age of marriage is 18, but any applicant for a marriage license who is under the age of 18 must have either notarized written consent of all living parents or notarized written consent of one parent or legal guardian and consent of a district court judge.

Kentucky

The age is 18 or above. If a person is between the ages of 16 and 18, he or she must have the consent of parents or legal guardians.

Louisiana

The age of marriage is 18, but if either member of the marraige is between the ages of 16 and 18, the presence and signatures of both parents are required. If either party is under the age of 16, a court order is required in order to obtain a license.

Maine

Applicants must be over 18 years old. Maine has rather strict laws — there is no case in which a marriage license can be handed out under the age of 16.

Maryland

Parental consent is needed if under 18 years of age. If you are between 16-18 years of age, one of your parents or guardian must be with you and provide written consent. If you are under 16 years of age, you will need both the written consent of your custodial parent or guardian and the written approval of a judge of the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas. If you are under 18, pregnant or have a child, and show a certificate from a licensed physician stating you are pregnant or have had a child, the parental consent requirement may be waived.

Massachusetts

Age 18 years or older. A birth certificate may be required to show proof of age.  If either party is under 18, a court order from a probate or district court where the minor resides must be obtained before the marriage intentions can be filed.

Michigan

Applicants 16 years of age may marry with parental or legal guardian written consent. Applicants under the age of 15 with parental consent and probate court permission. ‘Marriage of a Minor': The legal marriage of a minor “shall release such minor from parental control.”

Minnesota

Applicants between the ages of 15 and 18 must have the consent of a parent, guardian or the judge of juvenile court. Applicants younger than 15 need the written consent of a parent of guardian and the consent of a juvenile court judge.

Mississippi

Mississippi has the highest legal marriage age in the country — parental consent is needed if either member of the pair is under the age of 21. If parents or guardians do not give consent at time of application, they will be notified via certified mail for their later consent. The marriage application will be held for only three days to allow the parents to decide. Marriage licenses cannot be issued under any circumstance to males under the age of 17, or to females under the age of 15. If the clerk receives a signed authorization from either parent, the minimum age requirement can be completely waived.

Missouri

A person under age 18 cannot marry without the consent of the custodial parent or guardian. DzA person under age 15 cannot marry without approval of a judge in the county where the marriage license is sought. The statute states that the judge should grant approval only upon a showing of “good cause” and that unusual conditions make the marriage “advisable.” Persons lacking mental capacity to consent to marriage cannot marry without court approval.

Montana

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must have the consent of both parents unless only one parent has legal custody of you. Both of you, as a couple, will also have to attend at least two counseling sessions that are at least 10 days apart. This has to be done with a designated counselor who will then have to provide a letter that states the names of the couple, their ages, the dates of the counseling sessions, and what the counselor thinks about their possible marriage.

Nebraska

Under 19 — A notarized consent form must be signed by the person’s legal guardian giving consent to the marriage of the minor. Nebraska will not issue a marriage license if either applicant is under 17 years of age.

Nevada

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must have one parent or legal guardian present. A notarized written permission is also acceptable. It must be written in English and needs to state the name, birth date, age of the minor child, along with the relationship of the person giving consent. The notary must note that the parent or guardian personally appeared before or was subscribed and sworn to. If you are under 16, marriage can be authorized only by court order when the request has been filed by either parent or legal guardian.

New Hampshire

A female between the age of 13 and 17 years and a male between the age of 14 and 17 years can be married only with the permission of their parent (guardian) and a waiver. A female below the age of 13 and a male below the age of 14 are not allowed to marry under any conditions. If both parties are nonresidents of NH and are below the age of 18 they cannot be married in NH under any conditions.

New Jersey

Applicants under 18 can marry if both parents consent to the marriage. The consent must be given under oath in front of two witnesses. Males: 16 or younger parties may marry with parental consent and/or permission of judge. Younger parties may obtain license in case of pregnancy or birth of child. Females: 16 or younger parties may marry with parental consent and/or permission of judge. Younger parties may obtain license in case of pregnancy or birth of child.

New Mexico

Parental consent is required if either party is between 16 and 18 years of age. If either member of the couple is 15 years of age, a court order is required. New Mexico has an odd system whereby there’s no waiting period for marriage, and licenses are issued and declared valid immediately and never expire.

New York

If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you will need to have a completed parental consent form filled out by both parents. If you are either 14 or 15 years of age, you will need to show the written consent of both parents and a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge of the local Family Court. Applicants under 14 years of age cannot marry. Only one parent’s consent will be accepted if one parent is deceased or has been missing for over a year, or if one parent has full custody from a divorce proceeding. Your parents or guardians must give their consent in person before the town or city clerk or some other authorized official. If they are out of state, a notarized affidavit is acceptable but has to be accompanied by a certificate of authentication when the consent is filed in New York State.

North Carolina

Applicants 18 to 20 must present a certified copy of their birth certificate. Applicants 16 and 17 must present a consent form signed by the parent, individual, agency or institution having legal custody or serving as the legal guardian of the underage party. (birth certificate is also required). The consent form must be notarized. Applicants 14 and 15 must provide a certified copy of the court order authorizing the marriage. A certified copy of the birth certificate is also required. A marriage license may not be issued to applicants under 14 years of age.

North Dakota

If a person is between sixteen and eighteen years of age, a marriage license may not be issued without the consent of the parents or guardian. This requires a notarized statement.

Ohio

If you are 18 to 21 years of age, you will need to show your birth certificate. Persons aged 16-17 must have consent to marry from parents or legal guardians and may have to contact the Probate Court. Additionally, the Judge may require the minors to state that they have received marriage counseling that is satisfactory to the court. Section 3101.05 also mentions how the court will deal with a pregnant minor.

Oklahoma

If you are under 18, your parents must appear at the courthouse with you to sign a consent form. Minors must wait three days before the marriage license is valid.

Oregon

Under 18: Anyone not yet 17 years of age cannot be legally married in the State of Oregon. A seventeen year old can be married if they have the parent’s or guardian’s consent (State Consent form needed).

Pennsylvania

If under 18 years of age applicants may marry with consent of a parent or guardian. Applicants must present Birth Certificate plus an additional $5.00. Okay, if under 16 years of age with the approval of a Judge of the Orphans Court, as well as parent or guardian.

Rhode Island

Under 18: A Minor’s Permit to marry must be completed if a female applicant is 16 or 17 years of age. The permit must be signed and notarized in the presence of the City or Town Clerk or any clerk employed in that office. ²A female under age 16 and a male under age 18 cannot secure a marriage license in the State of Rhode Island without the approval of the Family Court.

South Carolina

If you are under 18, you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate and a notarized statement of parental consent. The minimum age for a female is 14 and it is 16 for a male.

South Dakota

Applicants 16 and 17 must have parental consent. South Dakota law does not permit marriage of those under 16.

Texas

The age is 18 without from a parent or your legal guardian. If under the age of 16, the law requires that the couple receives a court order before being allowed to marry.

Tennessee

If either party is under the age of 18, they must be accompanied by parents. If under the age of 16, Tennessee law requires that the couple receives a court order before being allowed to marry.

Utah

The law states that marriage at the age of 18 years and above does not require parental consent. For those aged 16-17, parental consent is necessary. For those 15 years old, the following requirements must be met: Parental consent must be obtained. Approval from Juvenile Court is necessary. The court must conclude that the marriage is voluntary and in the best interests of the minor.

Vermont

If you are at least 16, but under 18, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian.

Virginia

If either of you are under 18 years of age, you must have written, notarized consent from a parent or your legal guardian.

Washington

If under the age of 18, proof of age is required (birth certificate or driver’s license). Additionally, the parent or guardian must be present to sign the application form. If under 17, written permission from the family court must be obtained.

West Virginia

If either of you are under 18 years of age, you must have the consent (in person or written) of a parent or guardian. If written, the consent must be notarized. There may be special provisions for an underage bride who is pregnant.

Wisconsin

If either the bride or groom is under 18, you must have written, notarized consent from his or her parents or guardian. There is a Consent form available to be signed by parents or guardian before a County Clerk.

Wyoming

Applicants must be at least 18 years old or with written parental consent. Applicants under 16 years of age only with court order.

A final note — most of these restrictions apply to people being married within the boundaries of that specific state. In almost all cases, it doesn’t matter what state you come from as long as you meet the requirements for the state in which you’re being married.

This post is part of a series of posts answering questions about how old you have to be to do certain things. Other posts in this series include:

You might also be interested in this site which is about how old do you have to be in general.

2 thoughts on “How Old Do You Have to Be to Get Married?

  1. HeatherVarner

    how come you can move out at the age of 17 without parents permission but you cannot get married at 17 without parents permission?

  2. Jazmine

    in what counties are you allowed to get married in georgia if you are a minor with a child?

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