Are arranged marriages legal?

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Are arranged marriages legal?

A friend of mine is being forced to enter an arranged marriage. Are arranged marriages legal in CO or the U.S.? Can you be forced to enter an arranged marriage? She is 25. Her family is threatening to throw her out on to the street if she does not marry a guy they chose for her. They gave her 5 days to respond.

Asked on November 3, 2010 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, arranged marriages are most assuredly not legal in the U.S., in the sense that your family cannot legally force you to marry. That is not to say that they can't put substantial emotional and economic pressure on someone--e..g threaten to throw someone out, cut off monetary support, shun them, disinherit, etc. If they do this and an adult buckles under the pressure and agrees to the marriage, that's not an "arranged" marriage in a legal sense--it's an adult choosing to do something voluntarily because she does not like the consequences. Your friend is free to ignore the family pressure; as a 25 year old, she could move out, for example, and tell her family what to do with their proposed marriage and prospective groom. While her family could then withhold support, that's all they can do. If she chooses to marry, that is her choice and the marriage will be valid.


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