Family Law News Florida Bill 140 – Underage Marriage in Florida
Marriage can be difficult at best for adults to keep intact, yet, in Florida 16- and 17-year-olds can get married to someone of any age with the signature of a parent. If a girl is pregnant, rather than remaining single and establishing paternity she is allowed to get married at any age. Society seems to be forgiving and accepting when a child is marrying at age 17. The problem is that even 10 and 11- years olds have been allowed to marry in Florida. Senate Bill 140 attempts to change this law in Florida.
You may agree that the current Florida Family Law Statutes on marriage need revamping. You also are likely stunned and might be wondering if under age marriage really happens. The answer is yes. Florida is one of three States in the U.S. that have the highest child marriage rates. Nearly a quarter-million children or more have been married in the United States again, with some being as young as ten years old.
Senate Bill 140 would prevent any child from getting married before he or she turns 18, even if there is parental consent. Many of these marriages are forced marriages or are marriages that have occurred because of a pregnancy. Keeping in mind that when a couple divorces in Florida, children up to at least the age of 18 are considered children who are considered to be financially dependent on both parents. When a couple divorces, one or the other will usually pay child support for a child who might be 17 years old or 13 years old. However, the State considers them adults with consent with regards to marriage.
A recent study has shown that two-thirds of marriages to underage girls don’t work out but that number may not be representative of the actual number of uncessful child marriage. Under aged girls cannot enter into a binding agreement with a divorce attorney and finding an advocate can be problematic. Many girls marry adult men after they have gotten pregnant which raises questions of domestic violence and the possible criminal aspects of the relationship between a child and adult man.
Senate Bill 140 seeks to prevent any child from getting married in Florida before he or she turns 18, even if there is parental consent. This Bill and the accompanying Senate Bill 335 and are still moving through legislature. We will keep you updated on the progress.
About Family Law Attorney Wendy Doyle-Palumbo
Wendy Doyle-Palumbo is a Florida Family Law Attorney representing clients in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Pinellas County, FL. Attorney Doyle-Palumbo is experienced in handling high conflict and complicated family law matters. If you or a loved one is seeking to hire a family law attorney please call 727-824-5727 for a free consultation or fill out the form below.
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