There is no age limit to marry in the state of California. However, there are new restrictions that have been put in place to help reduce the number of unwanted underage marriages that have been forced upon the minors by their parents or others. These restrictions, which will begin January 1st, 2019, include the following:

  • Parents of the minor will have to meet with court officials separate from their children;
  • The minor, or minors, will have to meet with court officials, separate from their parents; and
  • Minors must wait at least 30 days before getting married unless they are 17 years old and have graduated high school or one of the spouses is pregnant.

These separate meetings are used to ensure that the parents or others are not forcing or coercing the minor to get married. If you have questions about underage marriage as a parent or a minor, call a San Jose family law attorney.

Reasons For and Against Underage Marriage

There are a number of valid reasons why two minors would marry one another, or why a minor would want to marry an adult 18 years of age or older. While underage marriage is somewhat rare in the U.S. (in Los Angeles County there were only 44 petitions for underage marriages in the last five years), it is common in third world countries.

In fact, 700 million women across the globe were married as children. Some advocates argue that underage marriage, driven by poverty, religion, and cultural values, in the third world is wrong because it is simply legalizing statutory rape, enables forced labor or slavery, forces girls to forgo education and potential careers of their own, and ruins the lives of young girls and women. In fact, 70,000 girls die each year during labor because their bodies are not ready for childbirth, according to Plan International. Many of these negative characteristics exist here in U.S. underage marriages.

Others argue that, at least here in the U.S., underage marriage serves a purpose for allowing minors:

  • To escape the foster care system;
  • To escape abusive parental situations;
  • To marry who have enlisted in the military;
  • To marry who have a child together;
  • Who are emancipated from their parents, and are in love, to marry; and
  • Other reasons.

Some minors (usually the parents of the minor) may wish to marry for religious or cultural reasons.

Call a San Jose Family Law Attorney Today

Underage marriage is a complicated matter and is an important decision that should involve an experienced family law attorney for guidance and to protect the rights of everyone involved. For help today, contact skilled San Jose family law attorney Gemma V. Reyes by calling 408-292-6289.