Did you know that in the State of Tennessee, if a county judge signs off on a marriage, a child below the age of 18 is legally permitted to wed? Not only that, but they can marry someone who is much older in age as well. While it might not sound like such a big deal, here are some other facts that might sway your view on the matter.
- Between 2000 and 2014, 7,670 minors in TN wed and 91% of those marriages involved minors marrying legal adults.
- 89% of those marriages were between girls and adult men.
- Dozens of 17-year-old teens married men who were 10 years or older than they were.
Now, picture this: A 30-year-old man requests to be married to a 15-year-old girl. She hasn’t even finished high school yet and likely hasn’t even made up her mind on which career she would like to pursue. The judge signs off on it and they proceed with a wedding ceremony with a honeymoon to follow. Now, consider this: Had this man not been wed to this girl, he would be charged with statutory rape. But, because he is legally married, he has the right to have sexual intercourse without breaking the law. Do you see something wrong here?
While you may have your own opinion on this particular matter, so does Tennessee Senator, Jeff Yarbo which is why he has been pushing a bill that would raise the age to marry to 18. Yarbo, and many others, have been concerned with the fact that minors are able to marry, and to men who might be twice their age, yet they aren’t able to vote, drink, or even hire a Tennessee divorce attorney in the event they want out of their marriage. The fact is, statistics have shown that 80% of marriages where one party is under the age of 18 ends with divorce, which might be an indicator that the teen wasn’t prepared, or ready, to marry that young.
While many states have willingly adopted a similar bill and already raised their age to marry to 18, David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee has shot the bill down. Instead, it is putting it off until the summer where it can be looked over thoroughly before a decision can be made. Fowler convinced House Majority Leader Glen Casada to push it for further review as it could “interfere with Fowler’s quixotic lawsuit challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage.”
After the decision was made, Yarbo stated, “It’s vile that the Family Action Council, supposedly acting in the name of God and family values, would allow a 14-year-old to marry a 37-year-old” [Source: Nashville Post]. Needless to say, Yarbo was disgusted with the outcome and is adamant about getting this bill passed. The truth is, teens under the age of 18 are in a confusing stage in their life and often aren’t equipped to make such a life-changing decision such as getting married. In fact, adults even find themselves questioning whether they made the right decision regarding their own marriage which is why so many couples are divorcing today.
And if you happen to be one of those people who lives in Chattanooga and is considering divorce but hasn’t yet consulted with a TN divorce attorney, then now would be a good time to do so. USAttorneys.com works closely with top Chattanooga divorce lawyers and would happy to place you in contact with one.