What should the minimum age be for someone to marry legally in Massachusetts? The recent enactment of a state law settled that debate once and for all.

Until recently, a person under 18 could be married, provided they obtained parental consent. Massachusetts law (MGL c.207, s. 25) did not specify the minimum age at which a person could marry with a parent's blessing. Such a union required a judge's approval. Whether or not to allow a minor to marry was up to the judge's discretion.

All that changed in 2022 when the Massachusetts Legislature amended the law to prohibit marriage for individuals under 18, regardless of parental consent. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of the Trial Court, "People must now be 18 or older to marry in Massachusetts."

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Mass.gov says if you search the web, several sites suggest either that the minimum age to marry in the state with parental consent was 14 for boys and 12 for girls, or that it was 16 for both." The site cites cases from 1854 and 1977, neither of which clarifies things all that much.

The Legal Age To Marry In Massachusetts Was Recently Changed
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The New England states have begun updating minimum age marriage requirements. Most of the changes have occurred since 2022.

Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont now require an individual to be 18 to marry. Maine says people under 18 can marry with parental consent. In New Hampshire, an individual can marry as young as 16 with parental approval.

Two states -- Hawaii and Kansas -- have a minimum marriage age of 15. Five states -- California, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Washington -- have no minimum age but require parental or court approval for unions involving individuals under 18.

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