In North Dakota, 16 is Legally Old Enough for Marriage but Not for Sex
KX News shared the alarming information that child marriage is still legal in almost every state in the nation. The report has a link to the website, Unchained at Last, which has pages of data on the reality of child marriage in the United States. The information gathered spans 18 years, from 2000-2018 - a time when nearly 300,000 children became legally married in the United States.
North Dakota is one of 46 states that allows minors to get married.
North Dakota is one of the 46 states that allow minors to get married. Cass County's website specifically states, "If applicants are under the age of 18, ages 16 and 17 only, under North Dakota Century Code you must have the written consent of either parent or legal guardian." So, a teenager's parents could sign their child's life away to anyone.
In North Dakota, minors can't consent to sex, but they can consent to marriage.
If you think that is messed up, did you know that 16 and 17-year-olds can't legally consent to sex in North Dakota? The Department of Health and Human Services' website shows that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have sex - the law says that anyone younger can't consent.
Just so we are crystal clear, let me summarize what you just read:
- In 46 states, children can legally get married
- In North Dakota, a person age 16 or 17 can get married with a parent's consent
- In North Dakota, a person age 16 or 17 cannot consent to sex
Unchained at Last's report found that 306 North Dakota children got married between 2000 and 2018. It is not the biggest number, but that is 306 too many child spouses. To go more in-depth about how disturbing this information is, I would have to write at least one more story. Meanwhile, you can think about how disturbing it this that this happens right here at home.
How do you feel about 16 and 17-year-olds getting married?