Tue | Feb 7, 2023

O to be young and married!

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry."

- Tom Mullen (author and musician)

With words like those, you might be tempted to get married. And why not? If your parents so agree, you can get married at age 16 in Jamaica.

If they don't agree, you have to wait until you're 18. Then you won't need their consent. But at that age it might be wise to still listen to your parents.

It is also advisable to seek counselling before marriage. Usually, the marriage officer tries to ensure the couple is adequately counselled. A marriage officer or your local church minister could assist you. The registrar of births and deaths also offers marriage services.

In the United Kingdom, the situation is similar to Jamaica's. The legal age of marriage there is 16 with parental consent and 18 without. There is an exception in Scotland, where you can marry at age 16 without parental approval.

Our Caribbean neighbours, Barbados, has a similar age stipulation, where persons can marry at age 16 with consent and 18 without.

Us laws

In the United States, where states craft their own laws, the stipulation is more relaxed. All but two states require a couple to be 18 in order to marry without parental consent. But the age to marry, with consent, is lower than Jamaica's in several instances.

In Hawaii, for example, at 15 a couple may marry with written parental consent and approval of a family court judge.

In the state of Utah, 15-year-olds are allowed to marry but the following requirements must be met: There must be parental consent, along with approval from a Juvenile Court, wherein the court must conclude that the marriage is in the best interest of the children and is voluntary.

It gets lower in South Carolina, where the minimum age for a female is 14, and 16 for a male, with consent. But New Hampshire takes the cake! A female, at age 13, and male, at 14, may marry with parental consent.