Is it Legal to Marry a Minor in Nevada?

You cannot go very far in Nevada, particularly Las Vegas, without running into a wedding chapel. Marriages are happening practically around the clock. Even the late-night chapel weddings have to follow certain rules in order to form a valid and legally-binding union. With all of the buzz that surrounds weddings and marriage ceremonies, from the centerpieces to the dresses to the venues, it is easy to forget marriage is a legally binding contract between the couple. Even the simplest of wedding ceremonies at a small chapel often can overshadow the serious legal implications of getting married.

Marriage Defined

Across the nation, anyone who is a legal adult is free to marry. People often do not think of marriage as a contract. In fact, in addition to being an expression of a couple’s love, it is a civil contract between a husband and wife. That being said, because marriage is a legal contract, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for the union to be valid. In fact, before a couple can marry in the state of Nevada they must be of legal age and have a marriage license. Marriage has both legal and financial implications that should not be taken lightly. Because divorce can have detrimental results for one or both parties, each state has age requirements.

Legal Age to Marry in Nevada

Nevada requires both parties wishing to wed to be at least 16 years of age, if they each have their parents’ consent. If the minors do not have their parents’ consent, then each party must be at least 18 years old to marry in Nevada. If extraordinary circumstances exist, minors under the age of 16 may obtain a license by court order. A court will allow the marriage of the minors if the person has obtained proper consent and the marriage is in the best interest of the parties. Beyond this, both parties must legally consent to the union. Finally, Nevada law mandates a solemnization ceremony to make the marriage valid. Nevada law allows for two consenting adults—unless an exception applies—who are no more closely related than second cousins or cousins of half blood to marry. Neither party can already have a living spouse.

Getting a Nevada Marriage License

The first step a couple must take to be able to marry in Nevada is to obtain a marriage license from the local county clerk. The clerk will require proof of each applicant's name and age before issuing a license. Valid forms of identification include a driver’s license, driver’s permit, or state-issued ID, passport, birth certificate, and any secondary document containing the name and photo of the person. If an applicant appears well over the age of 25, no proof of age is required in Nevada.

After proof of age and identity is provided, the clerk will require each applicant to answer identifying questions under oath as well as provide his or her social security number. Any minister or other authorized person to conduct the solemnization ceremony may conduct the ceremony. A Nevada marriage license is good for one year after the date of issue.

Nevada Attorneys

Thus, unless the couple falls into the exceptions, it is illegal to marry a minor in Nevada. If you have any questions about marriage law in Nevada, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Parry & Pfau today.

(image courtesy of Orio Nguyen)