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Key Legal Issues Surrounding Child Marriage, Divorce in America

The issue of child marriage in the United States has been increasingly prevalent recently. In the past two years alone, 12 state legislatures have at least considered bills that would determine the legality of child marriage. All these states decided that underage children may get married, with some conditions.

However, not all these states raise the equally important question of whether minors who are married can also get divorced.

Challenges to minors seeking divorce

In some circumstances, minors cannot file for divorce because they are not legally old enough to do so. The primary reason for this is that marriage is a legal contract, and most laws indicate that only adults may enter into contracts. Therefore, if a minor wishes to break or change that contract, he or she must have an adult to assist.

There were 207,468 child marriages in 44 states between 2000 and 2015. Many advocates are pushing for easier access to child divorce, as data shows child marriage comes with a much higher risk of domestic violence. Minors subjected to domestic abuse during marriage should not have unnecessary hurdles blocking their path to a divorce, these advocates say, as such hurdles would only prolong the abusive relationship.

An additional challenge is that many states where these challenges exist are no-fault divorce states, and thus domestic violence is not recognized as automatic grounds for divorce.

This issue will continue to be scrutinized heavily nationwide. For more information regarding the legal rights of minors who have been married, meet with a knowledgeable Minnesota divorce attorney.

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