So you are young — very young — and in love. And you want to get married. Depending on your family situation, this could either be music to your parent’s ears or the sort of news that prompts the famous mom and dad line, “Over my dead body!”
From a legal advice perspective, I urge you to make sure this is the right step. Ask yourself the following:
- Where do I see myself in five years, or 10 years, with my significant other?
- Do we care about each other like good friends do? Do I trust this person?
- Do we have a plan to provide for one another?
- Will I have any regrets about this decision?
- What would my parents do if they were in my shoes?
These aren’t easy questions. Marriage is a sacred institution, so treat it like one — for better or worse.
With that said, the laws of Texas do provide minors with the “opportunity” to apply for a marriage license. A person who is under 18 (a “minor”) can get a marriage license only by obtaining parental consent, petitioning for a court order or showing that an earlier marriage has been dissolved.
Now to make sense of all that in bite-size pieces.
Parental consent — Getting your parents’ blessing
This is the clearest, most direct path for a minor to apply for a marriage license. As long as mom and dad — or a person with court-ordered authority — say it’s OK, and you are at least 16, you can apply for a license.
Consent must be given in writing on a form supplied by the county clerk — and witnessed by the same clerk — either at the time of application or no more than 30 days prior.
If parental consent is not in the cards, a minor can petition the court in his or her own name. And it can get a bit complicated. For starters, they must state in the petition the following:
- The reasons why they want to marry.
- Whether each parent is living or deceased.
- The name and address of each living parent.
- Whether a court has awarded a person other than the minor’s parents the right to consent to marriage.
From there, the petition must be “served” on each living parent. The court will appoint an attorney for a non-jury hearing and all fees must be paid for by the minor. The court can then decide if the marriage is in the minor’s best interest.
Unlike parental permission, there is no age requirement for judicial approval to marry.
Dissolved earlier marriage
This is also fairly straight forward. The minor, if he/she was previously married, must show proof that the earlier marriage was dissolved by divorce.
When a minor’s marriage ends in divorce, the minor will be treated as an adult going forward and does not need permission to enter into a second marriage. If a minor’s marriage ends in annulment, the minor must seek permission to re-marry.
Note: There are nuances to the above information that we didn’t delve into with this blog, including who has the right to give consent, the legal ramifications for those who try to cheat the system and what factors the court looks for in determining if marriage is in the best interest of a minor. For more detailed information, you can give me a call and you can discuss your questions with a member of our team.
Stay tuned for the next blog from Nelson Law Group. Thanks for visiting.