Mindi Scott (mindiscott) wrote in little_details,
Mindi Scott

Marriage under the age of 18 in the U.S.

Setting:  Contemporary set in Washington state, U.S.A.

Search terms used:  "legal marriage age by state"  and similar.

I want to write a story where a pregnant 17-year-old resident of Washington state marries her 19-year-old boyfriend without parental consent. 

From what I'm reading, this doesn't look like an easy feat.  I see that in some states, minors can get a judge's permission to marry if they are pregnant or emancipated.  What I'm not sure of is whether these would be complex processes and/or if out-of-state minors would be allowed to partake.  Emancipation seems to take between 16 and 60 days in WA, but I don't know how successful the girl would be in petitioning for it.  Her boyfriend has a job and money, but she doesn't.  Would the pregnancy make the judge more likely to grant permission despite her lack of evidence that she can live independently?  (Also, her parents aren't abusive jerks or anything.  They just don't want her to marry this guy.)

Basically, I'm looking for a scenario where their marriage could be quick and as simple as possible while still being completely legal and legitimate.  Are there any states (or other countries even?) out there with reputations for being lenient in situations like this?  These characters have enough money to make a trip somewhere if need be.  Or would working with the courts in their home state be best?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

Edit:  Thanks everyone!  I'm getting an idea that this plotline isn't going to be entirely plausible the way I'd planned it.  Who knew it was so hard to get married as a teenager?  :-) 
Tags: usa: washington, ~marriage

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