Court says teens can marry under common law


SAC Class of 05
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Jan 5, 2005
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I don't think that this is good public policy. It doesn't make sense to me. How many of these marriages will last more than a year or two? How many of these teen wives will have 2-3 kids to take care of by the time they are 21?

Court: Teens can marry under common law
By JON SARCHE, Associated Press Writer
Thursday June 15, 6:56 PM ET

A 15-year-old girl can enter into a common-law marriage in Colorado, and younger girls and boys possibly can, too, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

While the three-judge panel stopped short of setting a specific minimum age for such marriages, it said they could be legal for girls at 12 and boys at 14 under English common law, which Colorado recognizes.

Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald said she was appalled by the ruling and said lawmakers need to look at the issue next year when the Legislature reconvenes.

"That's a child. You're taking advantage of an undeveloped person, putting them in a situation that's for life. That's something we need to take a look at," the Democrat said.

The ruling overturned a lower-court judge's decision that a girl, now older than 18, was too young to marry at 15.

The panel said there was no clear legislative or statutory guidance on common-law marriages, and that Colorado courts have not determined an age of consent.

For traditional ceremonial marriage, Colorado law sets the minimum age at 18, or 16 with parental or judicial approval.

Colorado is one of 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, that recognize common-law marriage, which is based on English law dating back hundreds of years.

"It appears that Colorado has adopted the common-law age of consent for marriage as 14 for a male and 12 for a female, which existed under English common law," the ruling said. "Nevertheless, we need only hold here that a 15-year-old female may enter into a valid common-law marriage."

The appeal was filed by Willis Rouse, 38, who is serving time for escape and a parole violation. He argued that he and the girl began living together in April 2002 and applied for a marriage license a year later.

The girl had become legally independent by then, but her mother also consented to the marriage and accompanied the girl and Rouse to obtain a license, the ruling said.

A judge invalidated the marriage, saying anybody under age 16 needed judicial approval for either common-law or ceremonial marriage.

While Thursday's ruling found that the girl was old enough to marry, it did not conclude whether she and Rouse have a valid marriage. The court sent the case back to the trial judge to make that determination.

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That sucks.. I don't want my kids to be like that. They need to have education and go to college and enjoy life before they have a committed relationship or marriage and have kids. If they don't want kids that's fine but still committed relationship and marriage isnt easy.. but you have to make it work.
I believe that under 18 yrs old, should have parents approve on their child to get marry.
Somebody isn't thinking too clearly here. The precedent is based on old laws during a time when life was simplier and brutish to say the least. The average lifespan was maybe 40's way back when. So, getting married earlier was the norm and expected. Often you had to have a bunch of children just to have somebody take care of you too when you got old. Lots of children didn't make it to adulthood.

Nowadays, people typically live to 70's and more plus life is so complicated that no one under 18 (well I say under 25... ;) really has a clue as to what it is all about. The last thing one needs to be raising kids when they are still kids themselves.

As ITPJohn stated, it isn't good public policy... I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this...
Their choice parental's permission grant their child can marry.. Depend reasons..

who have a child.. yes may have good reason..

There have no child.. (no way.. Not reasonable allow marriage)
Too Young!

Least Not my business..

As for my business yes.. Prefer 20 of age over...
Well, My Great Grandmother got married when she was 12. and got pregnant when she was 13. They had good marraige.

I know it sounds like too young, but think about it old days they always work there wasnt much activities like now days. Also now days more kids is just being a kid they dont really learn responsiblies like old days. Most girls started period around 10 through 14 so which means they have became a woman that is why they consider 12 is old enough in old days until now they rather wait until their kids are older for some reason.

Myself what I believe. I would say it depends how much responsiblies that kid have and can handle it fine with me. If no responsiblies and like to be a kid then No I wont allow it until I know she really can handle it. But for boys well you know they always say boys will be boys lol.
GalaxyAngel said:
Their choice parental's permission grant their child can marry.. Depend reasons..

who have a child.. yes may have good reason..

There have no child.. (no way.. Not reasonable allow marriage)
Too Young!

Least Not my business..

As for my business yes.. Prefer 20 of age over...
I know a Judge who married too young, had 5 kids, was a housewife,
and her husband work... and she went to night classes at College
and got degree, and then went to law school and pass bar exam,
and now became Judge.

So marriage won't ruining your children's future career.

If my children want to marry young, then I will support them. :)