Legal Review: Maryland Legislators Cannot Agree on Minimum Age to Marry

By Family Law Attorney Tammy Begun of The Capital Family Law Group

When you are young and in love, it may be fun to think about running off with your sweetheart and getting married.

For many parents, it is a worst-case scenario. In Maryland, parents will continue to worry as legislators cannot come to a decision on what the minimum age should be to marry in the state.

Currently in Maryland, any minor aged 16 or 17 that wishes to marry can do so with parental consent. If a girl is younger than this and wants to marry, she can do so provided that a physician has stated, in writing, that she is pregnant or has given birth.

Legislators tend to agree that being able to marry at age 15 is too young. What they cannot agree on is an age to make it law. The Senate wants to set that age at 16, while the House thinks it should be 17. Neither side was willing to move on the ages they were asking for.

“What lawmakers are trying to do is protect our kids,” says Tammy Begun of The Capital Family Law Group. “It is unfortunate that they could not come to an agreement to do that. What parents, minors and anyone looking to get married have to understand is that they must still protect themselves. Discussions surrounding premarital and postnuptial agreements are conversations that need to be had, regardless of the age of those getting married.”

Although Maryland’s minimum age for marriage is low, many people still cannot conceive of someone aged 16 or 17 getting married. It happens more than one might think, though.

According to the Maryland health department, in 2016 there were 85 individuals under the age of 17 that were married. Five of those marriages included a spouse that was in their 30s. In 31 of those marriages, one spouse was under the age of 17 while the other was in their 20s.

Whether or not the legislature will consider another measure on the minimum age for marriage is unknown. Legislators faced this same situation last year when a similar bill was on the table but died on the final day of session.

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