Marriage Requirements_ Consent, Age, and Capacity
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Marriage Requirements: Consent, Age, and Capacity

You might think the legal requirements for marriage are puzzling and mind-blowing. There is so much going into planning a wedding nowadays: finding the perfect dress, carefully choosing a harmonized menu of traditional dishes concluding with a stunning wedding cake, and locating just the right location – finding your way through the legal requirements might be a little lower on your we-need-to-do list.

Particular kinds of marriages are usually forbidden, like marriages between blood relatives. In a lot of states, they cannot be closer than 3rd cousins. Nevertheless, some states allow first cousins to get married when they’re of an older age and can no longer conceive.

The fact remains that once you know what your state requires, the steps are straight forward, giving you more time to focus on the happier parts of getting married. Although laws vary state to state, this post contains conventional marriage requirements.

Marriage Requirements: Consent

Prior to a marital union being recognized by a state, there needs to be an agreement between those involved in the union to be married. For consent to be present, each party needs to agree to the marriage and there needs to be no mistake as to the nature of the union; no coercion is to be used upon either of the parties to enter the union.

After consent is established to exist, the laws of the individual state determines the standing of the couple as spouses (provided that they’ve met their state’s marriage license requirements).

Marriage Requirements: Age

Additionally, age is a factor of consenting to marry. Every state sets the age in which must be met by both parties to the marriage prior to them being able to legally be in agreement to become spouses without parental consent. Save for two states, this “age of consent” is eighteen (in Mississippi the age is seventeen for females and fifteen for males, whereas in Nebraska the age is seventeen).

The states differ in establishing the minimum age to which a couple can get married having parental consent. For most states the age is sixteen, although in a very few states (including Kansas) the age is as low as fourteen.

Marriage Requirements: Competence

Competence typically refers to the mental capacity of each of the parties wanting to get married to agree to become spouses. Both parties are required be of “sound” mind and able of agreeing to getting married. Not all types of mental disorder and lunacy serve to render someone unable of entering a marriage.

A general test of competence is the capability of individuals to comprehend the nature of marriage and what their obligations are to their partners following them entering into the union, like financial responsibilities. Physical competence — and in particular the physical inability of having sexual intercourse — does not by and through itself render one unfit of marrying and does not at first glance void a marriage that has already taken place.

Questions Regarding Marriage Requirements? Get Answers from a Family Attorney

When you and your partner are thinking about getting married, it might help to speak with an knowledgeable family law attorney. The attorney is going to ensure that all of the legal requirements of marriage are fulfilled prior to you walking down the aisle and can also address other legal questions and matters you may face in the future. Find a knowledgeable family law attorney near you today.


  1. Marriage requirements basics: Consent, age, and capacity. Findlaw. (2018, November 14). Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

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