Marriage Laws in the USA - by Age

In the United States, all but two states require a couple be age 18 in order to marry without parental consent. Nebraska sets the age at 19 and Mississippi at 21 at the time of this writing (May 2003). A few states will waive this requirement if there is a pregnancy involved, but the couple may still have to have court approval.

* This is not intended to encourage teenage marriages; just to serve as a guide of the current state laws.

Alabama: If either of you are under 18, you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. Both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification. If one or both parents are deceased, proper evidence of such must be provided. Individuals under the age of 14 may not marry.

Alaska: If either of you are under 18, you will need certified copy of birth certificate, both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification.

Arizona: If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must 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: Under 18 requires consent of both sets of parents.

Bahamas: If you are under 18, you will need parental consent.

California: If either the bride or groom is under 18, at least one of the minor's parents, or legal guardian, 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.

Colorado: If you are 16 or 17, you will need consent of both parents (or parent having legal custody), or guardian, or seek judicial approval. If you are under 16, a Judicial Court Order along with parental consent is necessary.

Connecticut: If under sixteen years of age, the written consent of the judge of probate for the district where the minor resides must be obtained. Written parental consent is needed if under 18 years of age.

Delaware: You will need signed parental consent forms provided by the Clerk of the Peace office if you are under 18 years of age.

District of Columbia: You will need signed parental or guardian consent forms if you are under 18 years of age. If you are under 16 years of age, you cannot marry in the District of Columbia.

Florida: If an individual is under 18 years of age, but older than 16 years of age, a marriage license can be obtained with parental consent. If a minor's parents are both deceased and there is not an appointed guardian, he/she may apply for a marriage license. A minor who has been previously married may also apply for a license. A minor who swears that they have a child or are expecting a baby, can apply for a license if the pregnancy has been verified by a written statement from a licensed physician.

Georgia: If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may apply if accompanied by both parents who have given written consent. If the bride is  pregnancy , no parental consent is required if you submit a statement from a licensed physician certifying that the bride is pregnant.

Hawaii: If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you must have the written consent of both of your parents, legal guardian, or the family court. If you are 15 years old, you will not only need the written consent of both of your parents or legal guardian, but also the written approval of a judge of the family court. You can obtain the necessary consent forms from a marriage license agent.

Idaho: If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you will need to have a certified copy or your original birth certificate, or a passport, or a driver's license or state ID card. 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: Any applicant who is under age 18 must have either: - Notarized, written consent of all then living parents and legal guardians, 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 you are 16 or 17 years old, you must have the consent of your parents or legal guardian.

Louisiana: If either party to the marriage is between the ages of 16 and 18, the presence and signatures of both parents are required. If a parent has legal custody in a divorce, a certified copy of the judgment must be presented. 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. A license shall not be issued to anyone under the age of 16 without written parental consent and the written consent of a judge.

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. ¾If 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. ¾Applicants younger than 15 needs the written consent of a parent of guardian and the consent of a juvenile court judge.

Mississippi: Parental consent is needed if under 21 years of age. If parents or guardians do not give consent at time of application, they will be notified via certified mail. The marriage application will be held for three (3) days. Marriage licenses cannot be issued to males under 17, or females under 15 years of age. If the clerk receives a signed authorization from the parents, this minimum age requirement can be waived.

Missouri: A person under age 18 cannot marry without the consent of the custodial parent or guardian. «¾A 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 if 16 or 17 years of age. Court order if 15 years of age. (There is no waiting period as in most states and marriage licenses are issued and valid immediately and do not 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. ¾A 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.

Washington DC: Both applicants must be at least 18 years old to obtain a marriage license. With parental consent, the male must be at least 16 years old and the female must be at least 16 years old. Parental consent must be provided either in person or by notarized letter.

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.

Other situations - Pregnant Teens: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma allow pregnant teens or teens who have already had a child to get married without parental consent. In Florida, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, the young couple must have authorization from a court. Maryland requires that the minor be at least 16. Even with parental approval, many states will require court approval when a person is 16 years of age or less.

The laws in Canada, the UK, Puerto Rico and Mexico are similar, but will vary by province. Call your local town hall or court house for answers to questions you might have.