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Published: Friday, Jul. 2nd, 2021

Rhode Island raised the minimum age to marry -- Which states are next?

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In early June, Rhode Island raised the ‘age of consent’ to marry in the state, banning marriage for children under 18 years old. This makes them one of several states to reconsider minimum marriage ages over the last few years, including similar measures introduced in 2021 in North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia, among others. 

 

Before the new legislation was signed (HB 5387), children as young as 16 could legally marry in Rhode Island with written permission from a parent or guardian. 

 

Now, RI law explicitly reads that:

 

§ 15-2-14. Minimum age for marriage license.

 

A marriage license shall only be granted to a person of full age, attaining the age of eighteen (18) years shall be deemed full legal age pursuant to § 15-12-1.

 

 

 

 

Which states are next? 

 

On June 23, legislation In North Carolina that originally sought to raise the legal marriage age to 18, passed a House committee after undergoing several modifications. 

 

Under the revisions, NC SB 35 would raise the minimum age to marry from 14 years old to 16 years old. It would also introduce an age-gap limit for marriages involving minors -- so that minors over the age of 16 but under the age of 18 would be limited to marrying someone no more than 4 years older. 

 

According to a recent AP news article out of Raleigh, an estimated 8,800 minors were listed on North Carolina marriage license applications from 2000 to 2015. They reported that supporters of SB 35 say that “North Carolina has become a destination for out-of-state couples involving an underage partner because of its rules.”

 

Discussions over the marriage of minors, and the minimum age of consent to marry, have become increasingly common over the past few years. AMM first wrote about this trend earlier in the year, when more than six states had active legislation on the topic. 

 

Since March, additional measures have been introduced in Massachusetts and New York, and legislation is ongoing in Hawaii, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon, and North Carolina. 

 


To find out the age of consent to marry in your state, visit our Marriage Laws page.

 

AMM takes an active interest in the evolving laws, conversations, philosophies, and attitudes surrounding marriage. Check back for more information on this topic and others relating to marriage law, wedding industry news, and other timely events impacting wedding officiants and engaged couples by visiting :  

 

 

AMM’s News Page 

 


Here at AMM, we believe that marriage and its solemnization are sacred acts with lasting implications. As such, a legal union should only occur when there is a clear understanding of the (very serious) personal and legal obligations, and mutual consent. Since minors generally lack the maturity and life experience to objectively consider and consent to the legally binding contract of marriage, we strongly support any legislation that protects the wellbeing of children. 

 


 

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