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Maine lawmakers enact bill to ban child marriage, raise legal age to marry to 18  

Published Wednesday, May. 31st, 2023

Photo: Grant Fowler / Pixabay

Lawmakers in Maine have passed legislation to prohibit the marriage of minors and raise the legal age to marry to 18 years old, without exception. The measure now heads to Governor Mills' desk to be signed into law. 


The bill (LD 443) would amend the current law by removing provisions that allow 16 and 17 year olds to marry if they have permission from their parents or guardians (§19-A:652). Under the revised law, children under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to marry under any circumstances. 


The decision to raise the legal age to marry in Maine is part of a growing effort by child advocates to eliminate the child marriage across the U.S. Similar legislation was introduced in Maine in 2021. And just this year, measures to raise the legal age to marry have been introduced in nearly a dozen other states. 


Related: Proposed Changes to Marriage Laws in Your State: January 2023 Legislation Roundup


Currently, only seven states and two U.S. territories fully ban the marriage of minors under the age of 18, including Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. (In Puerto Rico, you must be at least 21 years old to marry without parental permission, or 18 years old with permission.)


Related: How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Married In Each State?






What do AMM Ministers need to know about this changing law? 


This change will not impact AMM Ministers who officiate weddings in Maine, or how they officiate weddings there. 


Once signed, the amended law will raise age requirements to apply for a marriage license in Maine. It is a couple's responsibility to apply for their marriage license. Maine marriage licenses are issued by a town or city clerk; this clerk will ask each applicant for proof of their age and any other necessary documents.


Officiants should always check in with a couple to ensure they’ve applied for, or will apply for, a marriage license before the wedding date. The day of the wedding, Officiants should ask the couple to present their marriage license before they perform the marriage ceremony. Learn more by clicking the link below. 


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Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Maine


Conviértete en un Oficiante de Bodas en Maine

Friends and family members can perform legal weddings in Maine if they've been ordained online. Ordination with American Marriage Ministries is inclusive, free, easy, and fast. Click the link below to get started and learn how to officiate weddings today. 







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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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