Is it Child Abuse For a Young Teen to Get Married in Michigan?

January 29, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Young bride getting ready for wedding
With parental permission, a child as young as 14 can tie the knot, but lawmakers are saying this leads to child abuse.

Wait, what? A young teen to get married in Michigan? Since when can young teenagers get married in Michigan? Actually, many people don’t realize it (including most people who live here in the Great Lakes State). But Michigan’s marriage age – with parental consent, of course – is the unbelievably young age of 14! Yes, you read that right. With permission from their parents, a 14-year-old can get married here in Michigan. When you stop to consider it, the implications are a little scary

The age of consent for sex is 16!

Yup, that’s also true. A person can be as young as 14-years-old when they walk down the aisle in Michigan, but the legal age for sexual consent is 16, which changes things for certain newlyweds. If a parent gives their permission for their 14-year-old child to marry, that minor may be someone’s spouse, but they’re not legally allowed to have sex for at least another two years. And we say “at least” because while 16 may be the age of sexual consent in Michigan, there are certain circumstances where the age of consent rises to 18.

Does this open the door to child abuse?

Admittedly, it does seem a little odd, that at 14 a teen is considered too young to drive a car, smoke a cigarette, join the army, or have a glass of wine with dinner, but they’re considered old enough to choose a spouse. Unless of course, they’re not the ones doing the choosing. Which is exactly what Michigan lawmakers are saying is the most common situation when the 14-year-old age of consent for marriage gets used in Michigan.

Lawmakers are hoping to raise the marriage age in Michigan

The fact that Michigan has such a young marriage age, despite the fact that it requires parental consent, has recently come under fire. According to State Representative Sarah E. Anthony, who along with Reps. Graham Filler and Kara Hope, they’ve introduced a bill to change the marriage age to 18. Why? Because, as Anthony says, it’s about protecting the kids. In addition to concerns about the sex trafficking of minors, there are issues like child brides and child sexual assault to consider.

Child brides and child abuse often go hand-in-hand

“We see that many of these instances are connected to sexual abuse, sometimes physical abuse. Many young women are pregnant so it really impacts their development in many ways we do not know,” Anthony explained. “That doesn’t seem right for a young person who can’t enter into many legal contracts until they’re 18. But they’re still entering into something that we presume would be a lifetime contract like marriage.”

Sexual abuse of a child is a very serious allegation!

While marriage at a young age is usually a cultural one, we know that it doesn’t automatically mean a teen is a victim, or that they’re being subjected to abuse. Call 866 766 5245 if you’ve been accused of abusing a child in any way, sexual or otherwise. Those are very serious allegations, and should be handled by a skilled and experienced child abuse defense attorney. Don’t wait and hope the prosecutor will “understand” – because they won’t!