Missouri

Check your state: Which laws are the most lenient for child brides?

More from the series


Missouri’s child brides

This state has the most lenient law in the nation for 15-year-old brides. Some may have even married their rapists.

Expand All

“Child marriage” is defined as anyone under age 18, and the laws for such marriages vary widely state by state.

Missouri is the only state that requires only the signature of one parent, even if the other parent objects, for ages 15, 16 and 17. Like half of all states, Missouri has no minimum age to marry, but it requires anyone 14 and under to get a judge’s approval.

In Kansas, marrying at age 16 or 17 requires approval from both parents, or one parent and a judge. Marrying at 15, the minimum age, requires a judge.

In eight states, children 15 or younger can marry only if the bride is pregnant or already a mother.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown:

Alabama: Marrying under 16 not allowed; age 16 requires consent from parents and judge.

Alaska: Under 16 allowed only with a court order. Age 16 and 17 requires form signed by both parents. If one parent is sole custodian, a divorce decree or death certificate must be presented.

Arizona: Under 18 allowed only with a parent’s approval. Under 16 requires approval from a parent and judge.

Arkansas: Males and females under 18 need parents’ consent. Females under 16 may marry only if they are pregnant and have a judge’s consent.

California: Must be 18. Under 18, requires at least one parent’s consent and a court order.

Colorado: 16 allowed with both parents’ consent; younger than 16 requires approval from parents and judge.

Connecticut: As of 2017, minimum age is 16. Ages 16 and 17 require approval from a parent and judge.

Delaware: Those under 18 require permission from a judge in the county where they live.

Florida: 16 allowed with parents’ consent; under 16 must be pregnant or have given birth and must have judge’s approval.

Georgia: Ages 16 and 17 must have consent of both parents, who must appear before a judge or provide sworn affidavit giving permission.

Hawaii: Ages 16 and 17 require written consent of both parents, guardian or family court. Age 15 requires both parents and a judge.

Idaho: Ages 16 and 17 need permission from one parent; under 16 needs judge and a parent.

Illinois: Ages 16 and 17 need permission from both parents or, if no parental consent, a judge’s approval.

Indiana: Ages 17 and younger need permission from both parents. Ages 15 and 16: Bride and groom must be expecting a child together or have children together and obtain judge’s approval.

Iowa: Ages 16 or 17 need written consent from both parents (or living parent or guardian) and judicial approval.

Kansas: Ages 16 and 17 require approval of both parents, or one parent and a judge. Minimum age — 15 — requires judge’s approval.

Kentucky: Ages 16 and 17 must have a parent’s consent and live in county where license is issued. Under 16 must be pregnant and have judge’s approval.

Louisiana: Ages 16 and 17 require consent of both parents or judicial approval. Girls under 16 require written order from juvenile court judge.

Maine: Under 18 requires parents’ written consent; under 16 requires judicial approval as well.

Maryland: No one can marry under 15. 15-year-old bride must be pregnant or have given birth and must have a parent’s consent. Ages 16 and 17 must either be pregnant or have a parent’s consent.

Massachusetts: Under 18 needs consent of a parent and judge.

Michigan: Ages 16 and 17 need one parent’s consent. Under 16 requires approval from parents and judge.

Minnesota: Minimum age is 16. 16- and 17-year-olds need a parent’s consent and approval from judge in county where they live.

Mississippi: Under 21 must have approval from both parents. Boys under 17 and girls under 15 also need judicial approval.

Missouri: Ages 15 to 17 need approval from one parent. Under 15 requires judicial approval

Montana: Must be at least 16. Under 18 requires consent from a parent and judge, plus two counseling sessions.

Nebraska: Must be at least 17. Ages 17 and 18 need permission of one parent or guardian.

Nevada: Under 18 requires consent of one parent or guardian. Under 16 also needs judicial approval.

New Hampshire: Females must be at least 13, males must be at least 14; under 18 needs a parent’s consent and permission from a judge in the county where they live.

New Jersey: Under 16 needs consent from both parents and a judge. Ages 16 and 17 need parents’ consent.

New Mexico: Under 16 needs consent from both parents and a judge. Ages 16 and 17 need both parents’ consent.

New York: As of June 2017, all marriages under age 17 prohibited; age 17 allowed with a judge’s order.

North Carolina: Minimum age is 14. Ages 14-15 need judge’s consent and female must be pregnant or given birth. Ages 16-17 need a parent’s consent.

North Dakota: Minimum age is 16. Ages 16-17 need parent’s consent.

Ohio: Males must be 18, and females must be 16. Exception allowed if female under 16 is pregnant or has given birth; consent from parents and judge required.

Oklahoma: Ages 16-17 need one parent’s consent. Under 16 allowed only if female is pregnant or has given birth and a judge approves.

Oregon: Minimum age is 17; at that age, parent’s consent required.

Pennsylvania: Under 18 requires parent’s consent; under 16 requires judicial consent too.

Rhode Island: Ages 16-17 need parents’ permission. Under 16 needs court approval.

South Carolina: Minimum age is 16. Ages 16-17 need parent’s consent.

South Dakota: Minimum age is 16. Ages 16-17 need parent’s consent.

Tennessee: Age 16 requires both parents’ consent; under 16 requires judicial approval.

Texas: As of 2017, 18 is the minimum age. Exception: 16- and 17-year-olds emancipated by a court order.

Utah: Minimum age is 15. Under 18 needs parent’s consent. 15-year-olds also need approval from juvenile court.

Vermont: Minimum age is 16. Ages 16 and 17 need parent’s consent.

Virginia: As of 2016, 18 is the minimum age, unless a minor has been emancipated by a court order.

Wisconsin: Minimum age is 16. Ages 16-17 need parents’ consent.

Washington: Under 17 requires waiver by a judge where the person lives.

West Virginia: Ages 16-17 need parents’ permission. Under 16 also needs court approval.

Wyoming: Under 16 requires judge’s consent. All minors need parent’s consent.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the law in Texas.

  Comments