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Louisiana Senate reviews family law concerns regarding the age to marry

The laws surrounding marriage and divorce are frequently discussed by lawmakers. Louisiana is now broaching a family law issue regarding the age in which people can lawfully enter into a marriage. Currently, the state grants minors licenses to marry under the age of 18 provided they meet legal conditions.

Between the years 2000 and 2010, 4,532 people under the age of 18 were married in Louisiana. The family law question facing the State Senate is whether this should be permitted any longer. The debate arose in part after research uncovered that girls married as minors are more likely to face difficulties in life. The research shows that married minor females are more likely to drop out of high school, end up in poverty or face domestic violence issues.

Those who marry younger are also more likely to end up divorced, with about 70 percent of underage marriages ending in a breakup. These divorces can be particularly difficult as guardians often sponsor the marriage and are therefore unsupportive of a child trying to leave it. The Senate is now reviewing a bill changing the minimum marital age to 18 years, regardless of parental approval. 

Currently, Louisiana family law states that parental consent is required if one or both partners are 16 or 17. If the minors applying to wed are under 16 years of age, a judge must consent to the union. Although this is rare, minors as young as 12 years old have been married in Louisiana since 2000. Those facing family law issues after marrying young should contact a lawyer in the state for counsel.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Should 18 be the minimum age to wed? State legislators to battle over Louisiana marriage laws", Mark Ballard, April 14. 2018

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