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Can You Get Married At 16? Part 1

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Can you get married with parental consent if you’re 16?


Shayna Answers:

Dear Ready for Marriage,

Each state has its own laws that govern the specifics about marriage. In your case, you need more than parental consent. In fact, you need quite a lot more if you’re under the age of 18. In addition to needing an ID, verification of your address, a birth certificate, a premarital exam from your physician, and a consent form signed by both parents, your state requires that you petition a circuit court with a “Petition to Marry” form. 1. The fee for this alone is $120, and the Indiana state government makes it clear that a judge may refuse your request— and you still have to pay either way.

2. If you’re thinking that’s a lot of red tape, you’re right. The reason that states make it so compli-cated for minors (and in Indiana, for anyone under the age of 30!) to marry is that marriage is a serious commitment—often, more so than we can even imagine.

I know that you love your boyfriend, and you probably can’t fathom your life without him. As I’ve written in this column many times before, though, life doesn’t even begin to get fun until after your teens!

There are so many opportunities that you have available to you right now. You can go to a college halfway across the country if you want, study abroad, or even go on an overseas mission trip. It’s not that these things aren’t feasible once you’re married, but your late teens and early 20s are a great time to be single. If you rob yourself of the opportunities you have for your own emotional and spiritual growth right now, you’ll probably look back with some degree of regret.

Growing up brings a multitude of financial difficulties and responsibilities along with it, too. In fact, finances often tear many young couples apart. You probably already have a part-time job and make your own money.

Once you become a bona fide adult, however, get ready for the real bills! You’ll not only have to worry about renting an apartment (and if you live in the city, renting a parking space for your car, too!), you’ll need to think about how you’re going to pay for electricity, water, heat in the winter, your cell phone, an Internet connection, your car, gas, food, clothes—and the list goes on. Lemme tell ya, it’s not cheap, and it’s not easy—especially if you don’t even have a high school diploma under your belt!

If you’re secretly hoping that the incomes of both your boyfriend and yourself will cut it, think again. Even if you have enough to pay your bills, you’re locking yourself out of the multitude of opportunities that you have for a better future for yourselves and your children. In fact, an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal last May showed that college graduates have an average income three times higher than that of a high school graduate. 3. I think you already know that I’m discouraging you from marrying your boyfriend, yet yours is an important question, and I’m glad you asked it. Next week we’ll tackle your next question—what it means to have a lifelong spiritual commitment.

1www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_ states/indiana/index.shtml 2www.marriage.about.com/cs/marriagelicenes/p/indiana.htm; www.weddingvendors.com/ marriage-license-laws/united-states/indiana/ 3Alan Reynolds, “Class Struggle?” The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2005.

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