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Florida Bans Marriages Before Age 17

By: Beth T. Vogelsang, Esquire

Every state has its own laws governing marriages, including age requirements. Florida has recently toughened restrictions on minors getting married, and now sets the minimum marriage age at 17. For a 17-year old to marry in Florida, the minor must have written consent of his or her parents, and the older party to the marriage may not be more than 2 years older than the younger party.

Prior to the change, children could marry as young as 16 years old with the written consent of their parents, and the child could marry a person of any age. The previous law also had no minimum age requirement to marry in the event of pregnancy.

The new law banning child marriages was inspired by Sherry Johnson, a woman was 11 years old when she was forced to marry the man who raped and impregnated her. According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1,828 marriages licenses were issued in Florida within the last 5 years to a couple in which at least one party was a minor, of which 132 licenses were issued to a couple in which both parties were minors. One marriage license was issued to a 13 year old, seven licenses were issued to 14 year olds, 29 licenses were issued in which one party was 15 years old, and 1,807 licenses were issued in which one party was 16 or 17 years old.

The new law went into effect on July 1, 2018. To read more, visit http://laws.flrules.org/2018/81.