Concerns about an inability to get divorced and other problems led the government in Delaware to start to change old laws about underage marriage. Many states around the country still have laws which allow people to wed before they turn 18, but this has led to serious concerns.
The first state to totally ban the practice
At the time of the news report, Delaware was in the process of becoming the first state in the country to totally outlaw marriages between individuals under the age of 18. The new law would ensure that all married couples had reached the age of 18, even if their parents approved and consented to the marriage. A state representative commented that she believes the new laws will change children’s lives in a positive way.
Some of the concerns about young people getting married were tied to religious customs and people being too young to afford legal services and file for a divorce if necessary. Other nearby states, like New Jersey, had avoided the total ban on underage marriage due to potential conflicts with religious freedom and the First Amendment. Some states around the country may make similar changes in the coming years.
A non-profit organization called Unchained at Last was helping several states redo their legislation to prevent situations where young people could be unwittingly forced into a marriage or trapped in a bad situation. This process is slightly different in each state depending on what laws are already on the books related to marriage and divorce. A spokesperson from the Unchained organization said that Delaware should provide guidelines and a working model for other states.
Legislators in Delaware believe that many marriages involving the young are forced for a number of different reasons. Some common issues that cause forced marriages are attempts to get green cards or citizenship, converting a gay or lesbian child, and pregnancy. These marriages are more likely to have issues with poverty, divorce after a few years, and neither spouse may get a high school diploma or a college education if they married before they turned 18. Marriage could also be used as a way to bypass statutory rape laws
Divorce laws in each state
Delaware has its own unique set of laws and regulations for marriage and divorce. Because an attorney has to be licensed to practice in the state, they should be familiar with how your marriage needs to end under Delaware law. Divorce attorneys can give advice about how to make the process tolerable, quick, and protect your personal assets.
Learn more about the process to formally end a marriage