If a 15 year old is emancipated, is there an age restriction on who she can get married to?

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If a 15 year old is emancipated, is there an age restriction on who she can get married to?

For example, can she marry a 31 year old man?

Asked on January 9, 2013 under Family Law, North Carolina

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

North Carolina has some specific provisions for marriage and minors.  They are found in N.C. General Statutes 51-2 and 51-2.1.   You can find copies of each of these statutes on your state's website under the section for laws.  Here is a link to that site: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/statutes/Statutes.asp   .  Just type in the number in the box that says "lookup." 

A minor who is 15 can only marry under limited circumstances per 51-2.1.  This is when the 15 year old is pregnant and the male is roughly the same age.  So under 51-2.1, the fifteen year old female could not marry a 31 year old man.

A minor who is 16 can get married much easier if they have been emancipated-- but they still must get consent from their guardian or the court as set out in 51-2.

The bigger concern for applying for a marriage license is that it could raise questions about the relationship between the 15 year old and the 31 year old man.  If the two have interacted sexually (kissing and touching) or have had sexual intercourse, he could be found guilty of a sexual offense in North Carolina.  The exact offense would depend on the nature of the activities up to this point. 

Marriage is a big decision, especially at the age of 15.  Before marriage, any teenager should find someone to talk to-- a relative, a counselor, or even just walking into a church to talk to a preacher.  Even when the law permits the marriage, getting a little bit more input from another source couldn't hurt-- especially considering the importance of this decision on the rest of your life.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Good question. Assuming a fifteen (15) year old receives an order of emancipation from a county court then the emancipated minor is deemed an adult under the law for many purposes and can legally marry an adult such as a thirty-one year old man.


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