Marriageable age

Marriageable age

Marriageable age (or marriage age) is the age at which a person is allowed to marry, either as of right or subject to parental or other forms of consent. The age and other requirements vary between countries.

The marriage age should not be confused with the age of majority or the age of consent. The marriage age in a country may be below the age of majority and the age of consent that applies in that country.

The following is an incomplete list of marriageable ages in various countries. The list is current, and does not treat the topic in history.

Africa

  • Algeria: 21 for males and 18 for females, lower with judicial permission if necessity or benefit is established.
  • Egypt: 18 for males and females (per the new child protection law).
  • Ethiopia: Legally 18 for both males and females. In practice, however, children in rural areas are married young. It is not uncommon to see girls as young as 6 years of age being married. It is also unusual for a girl to be 16 and yet unmarried.
  • Kenya: 16 for statutory marriages under the Marriage Act.
  • Libya: 20, lower with judicial permission on grounds of benefit or necessity and with wali's agreement.
  • Madagascar: 17 for males, 14 for females.
  • Morocco: 18 (since the legal reform of 2004).
  • Senegal: 20.
  • Somalia: 18, 16 for females with guardian's consent; Court may grant exemption from minimum age requirements in case of necessity.
  • South Africa: 18, or 16 with parental consent. There are provisions made for respecting the marriage laws of traditional marriages, whereby a person might be married as young as 12 for females and 14 for males.
  • Sudan: Puberty, with requirement for willing consent of both parties.
  • Tanzania: 18 for males and 15 for females, 14 with court permission if specific circumstances make marriage appear desirable. Penal Code provides that persons of "African or Asiatic descent" may marry or permit marriage of a girl under 12 in accordance with their custom or religion if marriage is not intended to be consummated before she is 12.
  • Tunisia: 20 for males and 17 for females, lower with judicial special permission for pressing reasons and on the basis of a clear interest for both spouses.

Americas

  • Argentina: 21, 16 for females and 18 for males with parental consent, lower with judicial consent only in exceptional cases.
  • Brazil: 18, 16 with parental consent; unlimited in case of pregnancy. Since 2003 marital status is granted by law to adolescents (legally defined as individuals from 12 to 17) living together to someone else, with family approval (article 1513 of the 2003 Civil Code).
  • Canada: 18, 16 with parental consent, 14 with judicial consent, no lower age limits for widows, widowers or divorcees.
  • Chile: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Mexico: 18, 16 with parental or legal consent, 14 for pregnant females with legal consent.
  • Paraguay: 14 for females and 16 for males. Article 39, clause "b", of the Paraguayan Civil Code reads: “The legal incapacity of minors will cease: ...(b) for gentlemen of 16 and for women of 14 years completed, through marriage, with the limitations established in this Code”.
  • Peru: 18.
  • United States: Usually 18. Most states, however, allow marriage at a younger age with parental and/or judicial consent. Some states allow marriage at a still younger age if the female is pregnant. There are a few states that have a higher age.
    • Alabama: 18, 16 with parental consent. (statute)
    • Alaska: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Arizona: no statutory minimum, under 18 with parental consent, under 16 with approval of a superior court judge and parental consent. (statute)
    • Arkansas: 18, 16 for females and 17 for males with parental consent.
    • California: no statutory minimum, those under 18 must receive approval of a superior court judge, or parental consent.
    • Colorado: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Connecticut: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • District of Columbia: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Delaware: 18, 16 for females with parental consent.
    • Florida: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Georgia: 18, 15 with parental consent, 16 without parental consent if pregnant.
    • Hawaii: 18, 15 with parental consent.
    • Idaho: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Illinois: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Indiana: 18, 17 with parental consent, 15 in the case of pregnancy with both parental and judicial consent.
    • Iowa: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Kansas: 18, no minimum with parental consent.
    • Kentucky: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Louisiana: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Maine: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Massachusetts: 18 for first marriage, 16 with parental and judicial consent .
    • Maryland: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Michigan: 18, 16 with parental consent, 15 and under with parental consent and probate judge approval.
    • Minnesota: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Mississippi: 21, 17 for males, 15 for females, with parental consent.
    • Missouri: 18, 15 with parental consent.
    • Montana: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Nebraska: 19, 17 with parental consent.
    • Nevada: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • New Hampshire: 18, 14 for males and 13 for females, in cases of "special cause" with parental consent and court permission.
    • New Jersey: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • New Mexico: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • New York: 18, 16 with parental consent, 14 with parental and judicial consent.
    • North Carolina: 18, 16 with parental consent, unlimited in case of pregnancy or birth of child with parental consent.
    • North Dakota: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Ohio: 18 for males, 16 for females, less with parental consent.
    • Oklahoma: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Oregon: 18, 17 with parental consent. The consenting parent or guardian must accompany the applicant when applying for the marriage license.
    • Pennsylvania: 18, 16 with Birth Certificate and written consent of parent or guardian, under 16 with parental consent and the approval of a Judge of the Orphans Court. (statute)
    • Puerto Rico: 21, 18 with parental consent.
    • Rhode Island: 18, 16 for females with parental consent.
    • South Carolina: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • South Dakota: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Tennessee: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Texas: 18, 16 with parental consent. 14 with judicial consent or if person under 18 had previously married and divorced.
    • Utah: 18 for first marriage, 16 with parental consent, 15 with court approval.
    • Vermont: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Virginia: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Washington: 18, 17 with parental consent. May be waived by superior court judge. (statute)
    • West Virginia: 18, 16 with parental consent, under 16 (unspecified limit) with parental and judicial consent
    • Wisconsin: 18, 16 with parental consent.
    • Wyoming: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Venezuela: 18, 14 for females and 16 for males with parental consent.

Asia

  • Afghanistan: 18 for males and 14 for females, more than half of marriages involve females under 16.
  • Armenia: 18 for males and 17 for females.
  • Azerbaijan: 18 for males, 17 for females. 17 or 16 correspondingly in special cases.
  • Bangladesh: 21 for males and 18 for females, lunar calendar; penal sanctions for contracting under-age marriages, though such unions are not considered invalid.
  • Brunei: No minimum marriage age specified.
  • China, People's Republic of: 22 for males, 20 for females.
  • China, Republic of (on Taiwan): 20 generally. 18 for males, 16 for females with parental consent.
  • Hong Kong: 21, 16 with parental consent.
  • India: 21 for males and 18 for females. If any partner(s) engages in marriage at a younger age, (s)he can ask for the marriage to be declared void / annulled. A recent recommendation by the Law Commission aims to equalize the marriage age for males and females to 18, automatically declares marriages under 16 as "null and void", while marriages at the age of 16 or 17 are "voidable"
  • Indonesia: 21, 19 for males and 16 for females with parental consent. (Indonesia's Civil Law)
  • Iran: 18 for males and 16 for females.
  • Iraq: 18, 15 with judicial permission if fitness, physical capacity and guardian's consent (or unreasonable objection on part of guardian) are established. (May or may not have been revised after Saddam Hussein's fall.)
  • Israel: 18 for males and 17 for females.
  • Palestine: 18, 18 with court consent
  • Japan: 20, 18 for males and 16 for females with parental consent.
  • Jordan: 16 for males and 15 for females, lunar calendar; court permission required for females under 18 to marry men older by 20 years or more.
  • Kazakhstan: 18, in special cases 16 years with parental consent.
  • Kuwait: No minimum marriage age identified; capacity to marry requires parties to be of age (puberty) and of sound mind, however, no notarisation or registration of marriage permitted where female has not reached 15 years or male 17 years.
  • Kyrgyzstan: 18
  • Lebanon: 18 for males and 17 for females; scope for judicial discretion on basis of physical maturity and wali's permission from 17 for males and 9 for females; real puberty or 15/9 with judicial permission for Shi'a; 18/17 or 16/15 with judicial permission for Druze.
  • Malaysia: 21, 18 with parental consent, 16 for females with special marriage license.
  • Maldives: According to custom, the minimum age for marriage is 15; the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child discourages marriage before the age of 16
  • Pakistan: 18 for males, 16 for females.
  • Philippines: 21 for males, 18 for females, 16-21 with parental consent, 22-25 with Parental Advice (parents aware of couple's intent).
  • Singapore: 21, 18 with parental consent, below 18 with special marriage license.
  • South Korea: 20, 18 for males and 16 for females with parental consent.
  • Sri Lanka: In general, the minimum marriage age is 18; for Muslims, the rule is that a girl must be 12 years of age or have a Quazi's permission to marry before contracting into marriage.
  • Syria: 18 for males and 17 for females; judicial discretion for males of 15 and females of 13; judge may withhold permission for marriage if court finds incompatibility in age between betrothed parties.
  • Thailand: 20, 15 with parental consent.
  • Turkey: 18, 17 with parental consent, 16 in special circumstances with court approval.
  • Uzbekistan 18 for males, 17 for females. 17 and 16 correspondingly in special conditions.
  • Vietnam: 20 for males, 18 for females.
  • Yemen: 15 for females, although the 1999 abolition of the law meant that some adopted a new standard of "onset of puberty" as being the acceptable age, interpreted as young as 9. Half of females are married before the age of 18.

Europe

  • Austria: 18, 16 with court consent (partner must be 18 or older).
  • Belgium: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Bulgaria: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Croatia: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Cyprus: 16.
  • Czech republic: 18, 16 for females in case of pregnacy (parental consent required).
  • Denmark: 18, 16 with special letter of approval from the Queen and parental consent.
  • Estonia: 18, 15 with parental or court consent.
  • Finland: 18, under 18 with the consent of the ministry of justice in extraordinary circumstances, in which case parents or other guardian must be heard, but actual parental consent is not required.
  • France: 18. (The 2005 law intends to protect minors from arranged childhood marriages).
  • Germany: 18, 16 with court consent (partner must be 18 or older).
  • Hungary: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Iceland: 18, the Ministry of Justice may permit the marriage of younger persons.
  • Republic of Ireland: 18, 16 with parental consent, below 16 with both parental and High Court consent.
  • Italy: 18, 16 with court consent.
  • Lithuania: 18, 16 with court permission.
  • Netherlands: 18, 16 with parental consent, below 16 with parental consent.
  • Norway: 18, 16 with consent from parents (guardian) and permission from the County Governor. The County Governor may only give permission when there are 'special reasons for contracting a marriage'.
  • Poland: 18, 16 with court permission.
  • Portugal: 18, 16 with parental consent (if not possible, the court can provide the consent).
  • Romania: 18 for males, 16 for females, 15 with permission from the district's administrative board.
  • Russia: 18, 16 for males or 14 for females with consent of a parent or guardian (depends on region), unlimited in special circumstances.
  • Slovakia: 18, 16 with court consent.
  • Slovenia: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Spain: 18, 16 with parental consent.
  • Sweden: 18, younger with permission from the county administrative board. The county administrative board may only give permission when there are 'special reasons' but although the custodians of the underage should be heard if possible, the consent of the custodians is not required. The Swedish Matrimonial Code (SFS 1987:230), 2006-05-13
  • Switzerland: 18
  • Ukraine: 18 for males, 17 for females, 16 with parental consent.
  • United Kingdom

Oceania

  • Australia: 18, 16 with permission from a court and both parents (only granted in exceptional circumstances) - Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 s.10-21.
  • New Zealand: 18, 16 with parental consent.

References

See also

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