PUBLISHERS NOTE: We have blogged about this situation twice before. First, on May 12, 2018, in Teen Marriages and the Push for Reform in Ohio and then on January 12, 2019, shortly after Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the new law abolishing underage marriage in most all cases. Click here to read that post. That new law just became effective on April 8, 2019. We have kept our readers up-to-date on this because underage marriage and human trafficking are important issues in society. So, here is the latest update…
Minimum Age To Marry In Ohio Is Now 18. Underage Marriage Permitted Only With Juvenile Court Consent
Children under age 17 will no longer be permitted to marry in Ohio as a new child marriage law took effect on April 8, 2019. This issue was investigated by the Dayton Daily News in 2017 when it found that 4,443 girls age 17 or younger were married in Ohio between 2000 and 2015, including 59 who were 15 and younger. State records show three girls age 14 were married. This included a Montgomery County case in which a Juvenile Judge approved a marriage between a 14 year old pregnant girl and a 48 year old man. The man successfully avoided a statutory rape case by obtaining the consent required by the Court. That marriage ended quickly. The girl moved out and the man died of cancer in 2014.
The new Ohio law raises the minimum marriage age to 18 for both parties but has an exception and allows for 17 year olds to marry if they have juvenile court consent. But before granting consent a Guardian Ad Litem must be appointed to look at the best interests of the minor, there is a 14-day waiting period and the age differential between them can’t be more than four years. I expect a lot more Court scrutiny on these underage marriage requests in the future.
Before Passage Of New Ohio Law, No Legal Minimum Age For Underage Marriage In Ohio Existed
Previous state law set the marriage age at 16 for females and 18 for males but allowed younger Ohioans to marry if they had judicial and parental consent. So the reality was that there really was no legal minimum age for how young someone could marry in Ohio.
Advocates against underage marriage continue to press for still stricter marriage laws. They argue that girls are being exploited and that it also perpetuates more human trafficking.
Click here to go to a map on Wikipedia showing the minimum age to marry in each of our 50 states. Click on the “list” option. It is pretty interesting to look at some of the other state laws! Ohio now has joined 6 other states that have set 17 as the minimum age.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog. Mr. Mues has also been a dog owner for 55+ years, and just recently, he and his wife are the owners of "Ralph", a rescued mixed Wire Hair and Jack Russell Terrier.